Ramuel Figueroa and Dinu Skariah

When U.S. military veteran Ramuel Figueroa decided to enroll at Roosevelt University in 2014, his math and writing skills were rusty and his confidence was lacking. “I needed some help in brushing up,” the 24-year-old honors student said, who today is thriving on many fronts thanks to support and guidance he received at Roosevelt University.

A cavalry scout for reconnaissance missions with the U.S. Army, Figueroa hadn’t been in a classroom since graduating from high school in Milwaukee in 2010 and he didn’t do well initially on college placement tests.

That all changed, however, when a Roosevelt admissions advisor recommended he visit Veterans Upward Bound (VUB) at Roosevelt University for help.

“It was the first structured classroom I’d been in since high school,” said Figueroa, who took college preparation courses at VUB, a federal program which annually helps approximately 125 veterans from Illinois, northwest Indiana and southern Wisconsin brush up on their college skills.

“Helping a Veteran succeed is worth the investment."
Dinu SkariahVUB Assistant Director of Counseling

“VUB did a good job of preparing me for all that’s happened since,” said Figueroa, who passed his college placement tests the second time around with flying colors, enrolling as a political science major at Roosevelt in Fall 2014.

Since then, Figueroa has been accepted into the Roosevelt Scholars Program for high-achieving undergraduates. He’s also been a valuable researcher since April 2015 at Roosevelt’s Policy Research Collaborative, which collaborates with community partners to carry out research that can address societal inequalities by impacting policymaking and programming. “Ramuel has developed his toolkit as a researcher, with skills from building statistic databases and online surveys to recruiting research participants and conducting surveys,” said Julie Hilvers, assistant director of the PRC.

Figueroa has been surveying Chicagoland’s day laborers for the project, applying the research skills he’s developed, as well as his knowledge and passions related to issues of labor, immigration and social justice. In April 2017, Figueroa got the rare opportunity to discuss his civic engagement experience with President Barack Obama on a panel hosted by the University of Chicago.

Figueroa is planning to go on to law school after graduating from Roosevelt in Spring 2017 — and no one could be prouder of the student’s accomplishments than the staff at VUB.

“Helping a veteran succeed is worth the investment,” said Dinu Skariah, assistant director of counseling at VUB. “We will be continuing to help Ramuel with his resume, law school applications, scholarship opportunities and more. Our mission won’t be complete until Ramuel’s mission is finished.”

“When I got out of the Army, I was looking for a school that was hands-on with veterans,” Figueroa said. “Roosevelt has stood out in this regard, and I can’t recommend the University and the VUB program highly enough.”

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