Izhar “Izzy” Ramos isn’t letting being shot and needing a wheelchair to get around stop him from pursuing his education and dreams.
And, Dutchess BOCES’ Adult Learning Institute is helping him.
“Four years ago, I was shot in the head. I was dead,” Ramos said during a visit to the Dutchess BOCES Adult Learning Institute, 1 Civic Center Plaza. “I’m a walking miracle. I take care of my daughter and I’m starting college soon.”
Ramos’ injury came from being in the wrong place at the wrong time. He and a friend went to an apartment complex to see another friend. They were jumped when they arrived.
“They pinned me down and shot me while she watched. Then, they took her upstairs and shot her twice.”
Both survived and, after surgeries and rehabilitation, Ramos decided to turn his life around.
Through BOCES’ Test Assessing Secondary Completion preparation class and tutoring, Ramos was able to get his high school equivalency diploma in about 10 months.
“Izzy didn’t give up,” Teacher Rosalia Henry said. “His tenacity to improve overwhelmed his disabilities. I think he’s an inspiration.”
Through his BOCES team’s help, Ramos was able to get credit through an Attachment R, which New York State implemented about two years ago. If an individual passed a Regents exam in high school, it counts toward passage of that section of the TASC exam, said Elizabeth Hayter, adult education administrator.
Ramos had passed Regents exams in math, social studies and science, but needed to pass the Reading and Writing sections.
“Writing was the most challenging,” Ramos said.
But through ALI’s test preparation classes – offered at no cost to individuals -- he was able to get the customized help he needed.
His teachers, Henry, Jane Schanzenbach and Cassia Brown, were there to guide him step by step in writing his essay, he said.
“What I like about it is if I had a question, I could keep asking it and that’s how many times I got an answer,” Ramos said. “It doesn’t matter how many times I asked, it just matters that I get some part of it.”
Schanzenbach said Ramos would ask questions until he got it. “He never thought for one minute he wasn’t going to do it (get his diploma).”
On Nov. 18, 2019, Ramos received his diploma. Now he’s ready for the next step: college.
He is applying for admission to Dutchess Community College where he’d like to study either computer networking to finish what he started out doing in high school or becoming a crisis counselor.
Why the wide swing of career paths?
“Computer networking was my dream as a child. I always fixed computers,” he said.
As for the crisis counselor, it’s all because of the crisis counselor that has worked with him since he was a student at Highland Middle School.
Ramos said he battled with being bipolar, depression and ADHD and the counselor was there for him when he moved to Highland High School and then to Ulster County BOCES in Port Ewen.
“It felt like he wanted to be my crisis counselor and my father at the same time,” Ramos said.
Ramos plans to attend graduation in October and has expressed interest in speaking at graduation, Hayter said.
“Sometimes I have to lose to win,” Ramos said, adding that he’d tell anyone that is hesitant about trying to get their diploma, “Never give up. I’m here. I’m in a wheelchair. I do this every day. I’m battling for me.”
About the classes
Preparation classes are offered through the Adult Learning Institute at no cost to individuals. All students must pay $10 to take an initial assessment so that educators can see where they are at academically, Hayter said.
Day and night classes are offered at various locations throughout Dutchess County, including:
ALI, 1 Civic Center Plaza
Blodgett Memorial Library, Fishkill
Community Action Partnership, Beacon
BOCES Career and Technical Institute, 5 BOCES Road, Salt Point
Online help is also available through the GRASP Program.
For more information, visit https://www.dcboces.org/adults/literacy or call 845-483-3640, ext. 6108.