Photography by Danny Fulgencio.
Araceli Ramirez applied to Skyline High School, but she didn’t get in, probably because of low STAAR scores, she says.
So she enrolled in her neighborhood high school, Sunset. By the time she was accepted to Skyline, in her sophomore year, there was no way she was leaving Sunset.
This is her home, she says.
Ramirez enrolled in the finance academy at Sunset because she’d tested well for it in middle school.
“I was like, ‘I don’t know about business,’ ” she says. “But I really found a love and a passion for business.”
Teachers say she’s become a leader in the academy, often helping other students grasp concepts.
That comes naturally to Ramirez, who was diagnosed in middle school with a learning disability that makes her slower in learning and on taking tests.
“You’d never know it with her 3.6 GPA,” academy of finance lead teacher Lena Marietti says.
She takes AP classes and will graduate with 12 hours of college credit.
In 10th grade, she joined a club called B3 Ambassadors, where older students mentor incoming freshmen.
“You check in on them daily and ask about their grades, how are they making friends, how are their teachers,” she says. “It really helped me grow as a person because these kids go through so much. It’s really sad because you look at their grades and then you hear their stories, and you realize why they’re struggling.”
Ramirez had her own struggles. Her dad died of alcoholism when she was 7, and her mom had to raise two kids on her own.
She says she was sad for a long time after her dad’s death, and it took years before she could visit his grave.
“It was hard growing up without a dad, but I learned that life goes on, and I have to move on,” she says.
Ramirez became involved in theater as a freshman, and this year she is student director of the spring play, “Sara Crewe.”
She was accepted to the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, and they gave her a $16,000 scholarship. She plans to major in business administration with a minor in film.
She’s currently working on a documentary about a day in the life of one of her friends, which she plans to enter into competitions. Once that’s finished, she has plans for a high-school lip dub.
She’s part of the volunteer green team that collects recycling from classrooms and takes it to the dumpster. She has over 500 community service hours and is quick to help teachers after school.
She’ll be the first in her family to leave Texas for college.
Her mom, Virginia Ramirez, didn’t get to go to college. And neither did her brother, Ignacio, who graduated from Sunset in 2018.
But they’re very supportive of her and all of her plans.
“I wanted to adventure, and I wanted new things,” she says. “I love Texas, and I love Dallas, but I just wanted to be out of state and meet new people.”
Ramirez was getting ready to take her driving test in April. And she’ll be heading to New Mexico this summer.
She credits Sunset High School for some of her success.
“The teachers are so amazing, and the administration is the best,” she says. “They gave me a home here at Sunset, and I can’t thank them enough.”