By Elisabeth Schnebele
Sarah Ramirez is used to being on stage. As a dancer with Bailadores de Bronce, a Mexican traditional dance team, she has been a performer for years.
Ramirez is also now in the spotlight as a 2019-20 participant in the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program. She is only the second student in UW Bothell’s 30-year history to receive this honor.
Ramirez attributes Bailadores de Bronce with helping her find her rhythm both on and off stage. When she was 13 years old, the group provided her with insight into her culture that she hadn’t seen before. It not only instilled a sense of pride in her heritage, it also imbued her with much-needed confidence and positive self-esteem at an impressionable age.
Now, it is inspiring her research as a college student.
Applying past to present
A senior, Ramirez is double majoring in American & Ethnic Studies and in Law, Economics & Public Policy. After becoming interested in activism and learning about social justice movements in her School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences courses, she gained new insights into the power of folklorico, a Mexican traditional dance.
Her dance team had already introduced her to the concept of dance as a form of political resistance. “Bailadores de Bronce taught me that dance is an art, and historically art has been used as a vehicle to activism,” she said.
Her knowledge of performance and activism is evident in her research through the McNair program, which prepares students for graduate school. It is named after Ronald E. McNair, the second African American to fly in space and a mission specialist on the ill-fated Challenger space shuttle. The program is funded at 151 institutions across the United States and Puerto Rico by the U.S. Department of Education.
McNair scholars are students who have demonstrated strong academic potential and are either first-generation college students with financial need or are members of a group that is traditionally underrepresented in graduate education. At the UW, the program in managed within the Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity on the Seattle campus.
Ramirez follows in McNair’s footsteps perhaps not in space but certainly across the globe. Her research is titled, “Caught on Camera: Discourses of Globalization and Global Citizenship in Latino Film.”
“I break down how the use of fictional foreign films made by Latino filmmakers can help decolonize discourses of globalization and global citizenship,” she said, “providing insight into how globalization and citizenship are addressed from a non-Western perspective.”
Her interest in globalization flourished as a first-year participant in UW Bothell’s Global Scholars Program, a one-year program that creates access for underrepresented students in global education. Currently, she is working as a research and program assistant for GSP, helping to recruit the next cohort of students.
Ramirez is also double minoring in Human Rights and in Diversity Studies. Eventually, she wants to become a professor of Chicano studies or performance studies and bring all her experiences as a dancer and as a McNair scholar into her future research and teaching.
She also dreams one day of leading students in study abroad trips to Mexico where she can share her love and knowledge of the Indigenous and African roots of folklorico.
“This would create connections between my interests in globalization, colonization and dance,” she said.