Carmen Lopez-Ramirez at Ohio Stadium

Ask Carmen Lopez-Ramirez about home, and you’re likely to get a few answers. There’s Guatemala, the homeland from which she immigrated when she was a year old. There’s Miami, Florida, her childhood home; and now, it’s Ohio State.

Call it adaptability or flexibility, but Lopez-Ramirez is comfortable with change. Because change can mean new growth; it can open up new possibilities, and it can lead to a better life. 

It’s what ultimately sparked the Lopez-Ramirez family to immigrate to the U.S., and it’s what paved Carmen’s path to Fisher’s Full-Time MBA program.

Driven to do better  

Carmen as a young girl with her family
A young Carmen and her family at a theme park.

To some degree, Carmen has always been a self-starter. Fueled by her parents’ belief in the power of education, she became the first in her family to attend a U.S. university when she enrolled at the University of Florida as a Spanish linguistics student. But family encouragement only carried her so far. She remembers all the extra work that went into chasing admissions deadlines and scholarship applications.

“Coming here, my parents didn't know the system,” she said. “They didn't know where money for college was going to come from; they didn't know how to get scholarships for their kids.”

Carmen ultimately landed scholarship support, graduated with an undergraduate degree and went to work at a Miami-area nonprofit working with at-risk teenagers. 

“At that point, I realized that I really wanted more responsibility,” she said. “I hit a ceiling and wanted to grow in terms of my leadership.”

Returning to the University of Florida, she immersed herself in entrepreneurship research, particularly Black entrepreneurship. Her goal was to learn and scale those lessons to help other disadvantaged communities.

“I loved that work, and it really pained me to have to leave them so soon,” she said. “But I wanted to get my MBA and saw that there was an opportunity for me to leverage all of my experiences.”

Looking for a partner

Convinced she was ready for a career change, she sought out MBA programs that she felt would be a “partner” in her educational journey.

“I wanted to go somewhere that saw my plans and said, ‘We can do something here; you have something. Here are the resources, go spread your wings and fly,’” she said.

After meeting with Fisher’s Graduate Programs Office and MBA faculty, Carmen found a home.

Carmen Lopez-Ramirez
Carmen Lopez-Ramirez

“I was so pleasantly surprised to find a school that actually cared about me and wanted to get to know me,” she said. “This was the first space where I felt really comfortable to be myself in. I knew I could still be that leader, leverage all my skills and continue to build.”

Although she arrived at Fisher shortly after the turmoil sparked by COVID-19, Carmen wasted little time creating her own educational experience at Fisher. Working with various MBA faculty and staff, including Stephanie Wapner, senior lecturer in management and human resources, and Allison Jones, Director of Career Management, Carmen quickly discovered a passion for human resources. That interest, along with the broad base of other business skills provided by her MBA, fits her leadership philosophy.

“I have to be very holistic in how I think about a lot of things my role and the way I come up with solutions for different problems,” says Carmen, who spent the summer as an HR intern at Microsoft. “I have to understand all the different aspects that go into business decisions. I’m going to get more out of the MBA because I'm going to have the context I need to champion ideas that impact everyone involved.”

Staying connected to causes

Carmen behind a desk
Carmen begins the first day of her (virtual) internship with Microsoft. 

Outside the classroom, her lived experiences are helping Carmen pursue opportunities to better herself and the Fisher community which she now calls home. She is president of Fisher Board Fellows, an organization in which MBA candidates serve as non-voting members of Columbus-area boards. She is the secondary leader of the Fisher Graduate Latino Association, and she co-created the Fisher Human Capital Club, an organization dedicated to fostering growth opportunities for students interested in human resources, human resource management and human capital.

Those experiences, she says, will not only help throughout her journey as an HR professional, but they will also enable her to stay connected with her love for nonprofits and helping others.

“I went into the nonprofit sector to help children and families, but I quickly learned that to make sustainable change, those at the top need to look like those they are helping,” she said. “This is why I went back to get my graduate degree and to learn from local board leaders. My truest intention is to continue to take a seat at the leadership table, listen to those whom I can help and form the best solutions.”