Meet Alejandro Ramirez Gonzalez from Racine Youthful Offender Correctional Facility
Alejandro Ramirez Gonzalez March 19, 2019
I am incarcerated in Racine Youthful Offender Correctional facility serving an 11 year sentence.
First I would like to tell you where I am coming from, my name is Alejandro Ramirez Gonzalez. I am 23 years old. I come from a humble and hard-working family. I strongly believe we stand on the old saying of the 3 Musketeer's: "All for one and one for all." I am not saying we are perfect, we have misunderstandings and problems like any other family but we always try to solve them and stay together. I was raised in a small ranch in Jalisco, Mexico. I worked since I was a kid. I worked in the com fields, fed cows, pigs and chickens, in construction and any other extra duties we had on the farm. I also used to go to school and I was in the top 3 students of my class. I used to be a good, hardworking kid.
When I was 13 years old my family and I moved to Milwaukee, WI trying to follow the American dream. But everything was so different from the place I came from. They have different ways of living here. It is a different culture. I knew United States had people from all over the world, but the hardest thing for me was speaking a different language. Imagine going to a school where they don't speak your own language, and I was in a bilingual program. I still had to go to some classes where nobody spoke Spanish. That is when my grade started to go down.
Then I started to hang around with the wrong crew of guys. When I was 18 I started working in construction, then I decided to finish High School, so I found a job on second shift. I was doing this for a year when I was 19. I was already a senior in high school, still working 10 hours a day but I was still on the wrong path. One day I got in a really bad car accident and that's how I ended up in here.
I know I hurt a lot of people including my own family. I wish I could go back in time and change my poor decisions but I know that is not possible and the only thing I can do is learn from my mistakes and live with them. That is when I decided to change my life and help others. I set myself a couple of short term goals like getting my HSED, getting a vocational, completing all of my programs while in prison and to improve my English.
I have used my time very well. I completed my HSED, a Conflict Resolution Module, and a Diversity Circles workshop I completed three vocational courses: Customer Service through Computer Applications, Masonry and Bricklaying and Green Clean Custodial. I completed seventy-five hours of community service and I also improved my English. Even though I have a strong accent my English is much better and I still keep pushing myself to improve it.
When I arrived at RYOCF my TABE scores were 7.4 in Reading and 9.9 in Math on the Medium level. Ms. George, the Librarian told me about the tutor program. I signed up and worked with a tutor. It was not easy but I took the TABE test again and finally improved my scores to 12.4 in Reading and 12.9 on Math on the Advanced level. I then applied for and completed Tutor Training.
For most of my incarceration I have been an institution worker. My first job was in the grounds crew taking care and maintaining the yard then I also received a job in the kitchen on the weekends serving food for the inmates. I am currently working half time in the garden crew - my duties during the summer are watering, harvesting, weeding and taking care of the flowers. Other work responsibilities are taking bread and milk to the unit every morning. In the winter I also shoveled snow. I also work halftime as a tutor in the Masonry Vocational class. I help the students to learn how to do level, plumb and range on their projects.
It makes me feel good when they get better at it because practice makes the master and anybody is able to learn. I also help them on any question they have in their projects or in their book work. If I don't know the answer I try to look for it. I like to help guys that don't speak English that well because, I know how hard it is, but in this institution we don't have a lot of guys with that disadvantage. We have a program here named "Limited English Proficiency." There are 2 guys in the program out of 450-480 inmates, and I am 1 of the 2 guys. I also try to help the other guy in anything he does not understand. I really like the opportunity to help others and the students give me the opportunity to be a part of their growth.
My long term goals are to be an Office Manager and if possible one day to have my own construction business. I have 6 years left in my sentence. During this time, I will continue to improve myself by taking the opportunity of learning as much as I can and helping anybody I can along the way.