By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Homeless teen studying to become nurse
AndreaDSC 0242
Soroptimist Club of Manteca members Sharon Cunial and Arlene Sevor present Andrea Ramirez, 17, a $1,000 voucher toward her upcoming college registration at San Jose State University. Manteca Boys and Girls Club director Charlie Halford credited Ramirez for her work with children at the youth club. - photo by GLENN KAHL
Sierra High grad Andrea Ramirez – homeless for several years – is going to San Jose State University to become a nurse. Her desire is to be a pediatric nurse so she can hopefully touch the lives of children as she has already done in Manteca and Lathrop.

She pointed out that many of the children at the Manteca Boys and Girls Club come from foster families.  When those kids heard about Andrea’s story they went to her for informal counseling, telling her of their anxieties and wanting to know how they can get through their stress.  She listens and tells them to “just wait it out – things will get better.”

She said she also tells them to choose their friends wisely, and hang out with the good kids.  Stay away from the ones who are getting into trouble.

Her adventure, her trek in life has been a long one for the 17-year-old, but her tenacity and her caring for others has brought the love and respect from the many who have come to know her at the Manteca site of the Boys and Girls Club.

Thursday morning two members of the Soroptimist Club of Manteca found another $1,000 in their scholarship fund and presented Andrea with a voucher while she was at work.  She had already been awarded $1,000 from the Charlie Giles Memorial Scholarship Foundation through Mountain Valley Express in addition to another $1,500 from Boys and Girls Club board members Chuck Crutchfield and Jay Holmes.

The Giles’ scholarship was presented at a morning breakfast recently in the Country Kitchen in Lathrop.  Andrea then spoke to the representatives of the Mountain Valley organization after receiving the award.  She also spoke before the Soroptimist Club at their noon luncheon.

Crutchfield and Holmes matched each other giving $750 each toward her education.

She leaves for college today, Friday, after working 40-hour weeks during the summer at the Alameda Street club site.  Andrea has lived with friends for most her high school life at Sierra High School where she belonged to several school clubs.

The AVID Club, Wolf Pack, Link Crew, The College Club and The Environmental Club were all part of her involvement in high school.

Andrea said the Boys and Girls Club has pretty much been her home during her high school years – the staff members her family.   Three men at the club have served as her mentors:  Charlie Giles, John Cardoza and Mark McCool.

She praised all the staff members saying she doesn’t know what she would have done without their support.  And for the children she has served both in Manteca and Lathrop, she said she is going to miss them knowing they don’t get the attention they need at home.

With school just around the corner the Boys and Girls club still had 136 members participating in their programs Thursday morning.  Their peak for the summer has been at about 160.

Mark McCool and Andrea were a team working at the Lathrop club location.  Whenever McCool was unavailable, she would take over the leadership role.

Andrea will be living with a sister in San Jose while she attends college and only a five-minute drive away from a maternal grandmother.

She said she expects to be spending more time with her grandmother because she needs her to be near. The woman, in her late 70s, has gone through several surgeries recently and needs someone around to help.

Expecting to work and go to college, she is all set to go to work for the Boys and Girls Club near school.  John Cardoza has already made the call to let them know their spirited veteran is on her way.

She said she has her college classes scheduled in the morning so she can be available to work in the afternoon hours.

An exciting part of her life dates back to her first grade and a “Miss Arlin” at Wagner Heights Elementary School, in Stockton.  She remembers that teacher used xylophone tones – “bing, bong, bing” – to get the attention of her class.

“She was always happy, always smiling,” she said.  Admittedly that teacher has much to do with the forming of her character.

Andrea remembers well that Miss Arlin would always bring items back from her trips that she knew would be of interest to the members of her class.