By Madison Molner
Student. Veteran. Woman. Minority. Advocate. In recovery. Leader. These are the parts of MSW student Sazha Ramos' identity that she sees as assets in connecting with and providing resources for others.
For Ramos, who grew up in a Filipino Asian-American household and culture, service to others has been a connecting thread throughout her life experience. She served in the United States Navy and later opened recovery houses for people with substance use disorders in Louisiana but wanted to further her education by earning her MSW degree.
"Through therapy or advocacy, social work allows me to help people in a variety of ways," says Ramos. "It just made sense given that service has been an important theme throughout my life."
As a full-time MSW student, Ramos balances her work as a national advocate and founder of Recovery Organization Resources providing education and resource assistance on substance use disorder to veterans and teens as well as Black, Indigenous and people of color. Meanwhile, she stays busy with her field placement supporting undergraduate students enrolled in Rutgers Honors College.
"There is always a time when someone needs to be helped-- it doesn't matter if they're a veteran or high-performing student," Ramos explains. "Through sharing support and resources I have the opportunity to be a beacon for people who are struggling and can share my own challenges as means to connect."
Current events have also furthered Ramos' work as relapse and suicide rates are rising due to the pressures and challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in veteran populations that are already struggling.
Ramos is open and proud to share her own recovery story over the last six years. She sees it as an opportunity to provide authenticity to her work. Upon graduation this spring, Ramos looks to continue her work advocating for veterans and BIPOC and to share that there are organizations and people looking to help.
"I can be a student, a leader, a minority woman, and in recovery to help share how we all relate to one another. We are all more than one identity and they all intersect. It makes us whole when we can be seen that way,” she says.
Ramos' organization is also on a mission to raise $1,000,000 for recovery housing for Black, Indigenous, people of color and veteran populations. Follow this link to learn more about this initiative.