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Graduate praises college as a place of “fertile ground”

Agatha Ramos Maher

Agatha Ramos Maher

Unlike generations before her, Agatha Ramos Maher had the privilege of completing high school almost effortlessly.

Her grandmother was prohibited from pursuing education, but secretly took occasional classes and eventually completed up to the fourth grade. Her mom dropped out of high school and returned a decade later to get a certificate and a bachelor’s degree. Her father prioritized helping siblings, yet managed to earn a high school diploma and a professional degree later in life.

Agatha enrolled in a four-year university, but lost momentum. She moved from her native Brazil to the United States and discovered Napa Valley College. “Few other places provide as much fertile ground for self-discovery and personal growth as community colleges,” she told graduates as a valedictory speaker at commencement in May.

“I understood how personal growth and education are not confined to scholarship, but incorporated into all life experiences,” she told graduates. “Anything that you do, if you are dedicated to a vision greater than yourself, will create a positive impact in the world.”

 Agatha sees herself as thoughtful, motivated and ambitious.

“I dedicate a lot of time to thinking about how I can create a positive impact in my surroundings,” she said. “I actively seek out roles that allow me to connect with others while assisting their goals in some capacity. I take the time to reflect on how to make myself of service throughout the journey toward my academic and professional objectives.”

She has shown her thoughtfulness and motivation through many activities on campus while graduating with a 4.0 and an Associate of Sciences degree in Natural Sciences. She advocated for educational opportunities for STEM students. She was Co-Chair of the districtwide Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, where she helped identify equity best practices and recommend strategies to enhance access for students and staff.

Agatha mentored four freshmen students to navigate the campus, access resources and gain insight into college life. She also conducted weekly study sessions to help peers comprehend complex concepts of human biology.

She also was a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and graduated with a place in the President's Honor Roll.

“Higher education is important – when aligned with authentic, mindful goals,” she said at commencement. “Use it to create a better life not only for yourself but those around you, because more rewarding than seeing yourself grow, is sharing that feeling among a crowd.”