When Miranda Ramirez ’20 arrived on the Syracuse University campus in the fall of 2016 to begin her college career, she had little experience with traditional education. She had been homeschooled by her parents in order to devote time to tennis, an all-consuming passion that took her all over the world. “At first I only cared about tennis, but Syracuse opened a door for me,” says Ramirez, an accounting major in the Martin J. Whitman School of Management. “I discovered another passion, for business. I think writing and analyzing financial statements is a fun task, and I have thoroughly enjoyed every class I’ve taken.”
I became fully convinced that Syracuse was a match for me.
In 2015, Ramirez was playing in a tournament in Switzerland when Shelley George, Syracuse University’s associate head women’s tennis coach, introduced herself and told her about the life of a student-athlete at Syracuse. “She shared so many great things about the campus environment and the opportunities I’d have,” Ramirez recalls, so she decided to investigate. One visit to campus was all she needed. “I became fully convinced that Syracuse was a match for me. The beautiful campus, the highly respected academic programs at Whitman, and the instant connection to the girls who are now my teammates made me want to “Be Orange.”
Raising a Champion
Ramirez discovered tennis at age five, and by the time she was seven, she was dominating the court in under-10 tournaments. She practiced four to five hours a day, and her schooling was scheduled around training and tennis matches. Her parents moved frequently to enhance their daughter’s athletic opportunities. By the time she was eight, they had lived in five states, and at age 15, she was competing in international tournaments.
This immersion presented some challenges for her. “Growing up, I struggled with letting small things like losing a tennis match define my worth,” she remembers. “Now that I’m older, I have a different outlook on setbacks. I see them as a chance to prove I’m capable of overcoming them.”
Striking a Balance
College has added a new dimension to Ramirez’s life and she enjoys the balance between athletics and academics. “My schedule requires self-discipline, time management, and sacrifices of sleep and social time. But Syracuse has an amazing student environment where athletes can thrive,” Ramirez says. “The classes are interactive and the content is intriguing. Highly respected professors teach well-rounded academic programs that can be specialized to individual interests. My career goal of being a successful business leader in the fitness industry will show the strength of a Syracuse University degree.”
Ramirez always dreamed of visiting Australia, but time away from campus was a consideration. Syracuse Abroad offered the perfect alternative to a semester-long program—a 14-day summer class. She studied sports sociology and learned about how sports shaped Australian culture. “Those were the two most fascinating weeks I’ve ever had,” she says. “My favorite day was touring the Melbourne Park grounds, where the Australian Open takes place.”
The camaraderie she has found with her teammates transcends the thrill of earning All-American honors or being one of just two Orange players to post 40 or more victories in a season. “Every time we step on the court, my teammates and I compete not just for ourselves, but for our team and our University,” Ramirez says. “The passion I have for my sport and the support of our Syracuse fans drives me to give my best every day.”
In January, the Orange women’s tennis team defeated Purdue in a victory that qualified them for the ITA National Team Indoor Championship for the first time in Orange history. “Words can’t describe how ecstatic I was,” Ramirez says. “I was so proud to compete in Seattle at the Indoor Nationals, even though we lost to Pepperdine and OSU in tight matches. We put up a great fight and I’m confident that this breakthrough is just a start for our team. The future has wonderful things in store for the Orange.”