'She takes tremendous pride': Mayvorly Ramirez gets some deserved recognition

Ramirez is a custodian for facilities services at Brandeis and the winner of the 2018 Louis and Helen Zirkel Staff Award

Mayvorly RamirezPhoto/Jarret Bencks

Mayvorly Ramirez.

Mayvorly Ramirez was thinking she would pick up an extra shift and work at Brandeis Commencement this past May, but instead found herself on the podium wearing a cap and gown, and being celebrated.

Ramirez is a custodian for facilities services at Brandeis and the winner of the 2018 Louis and Helen Zirkel Staff Award. Along with a cash prize and a plaque, the award also meant being part of Commencement exercises.

As she walked through the crowd to the stage during the processional, students who knew her shouted to her. Once she was on stage, her name was announced and she stood to be recognized by the thousands gathered in Gosman Convocation Center. It was quite different from a usual day on campus for Ramirez.

She typically gets to campus at about 5 a.m. and heads to Bernstein-Marcus. Her goal is to get everything clean and ready for the day before meetings start and before most people arrive, then she goes to Slosberg Music Center to get spaces ready for classes.

"I really put myself to work in the morning, I don't want to interrupt the offices when everybody is there," she said.

Ramirez has worked at Brandeis since 2005 and has been primarily stationed at Bernstein-Marcus and Slosberg for the last few years, where she has formed bonds with the staff, faculty and students in the buildings she maintains. They chat about their families and what’s happening in their lives. They celebrated with her when she gained US citizenship, and they helped her find support when one of her daughters suffered from kidney failure. Ramirez was nominated by a group of staff members in the Institutional Advancement Division.

“Mayvorly is there for so much of everything we do. She takes tremendous pride in her work, always going above and beyond. Many of us in Bernstein-Marcus have come to know a wonderful, thoughtful and caring person in ways that go far beyond meticulously waxed floors," said Barbara McCarthy, one of Ramirez’s nominators.

Stacey Winkler '98, assistant director of Corporate and Foundation Relations and also one of Ramirez's nominators, noted that over the years staff members have come back from vacations to find that the plants in their offices are still thriving due to Mayvorly looking after them.

"This is yet another example of Mayvorly's kindness," said Winkler.

Ramirez immigrated to the United States from Guatemala in 1988. Her husband Luis, who previously also worked in facilities services at Brandeis, came to the US two years earlier. When she came to the US, Ramirez left behind her two daughters (she had a third after immigrating) in the care of their grandparents for eight years, until they were able to immigrate, too. She also had to leave behind a different career. Ramirez was a grade school teacher in Guatemala.

"I miss it a lot, but when we came here we said it was about doing what is best for our family," she said. "So, I said, ‘I will work and make money so we can provide for our girls.'"

When Ramirez learned she won the Zirkel award via an email from the Office of Human Resources she did a double take.

"I was so excited that I couldn't believe it," Ramirez recalled. "I showed it to my daughter and I asked if I was reading it right, and she said, 'Yeah, ma, you won an award!'"

Ramirez’s nominators submitted a three-page letter to the Zirkel Award selection committee that described how she has remained dedicated to her work and also built so many close relationships. “It is said that what goes around comes around, and in Mayvorly’s case, the love she puts into Brandeis comes back tenfold,” the letter said.

"We thought the award would be a great opportunity to showcase everything Mayvorly does for Brandeis," said Sharon Rosenberg '00, director of alumni relations and one of Ramirez's nominators. "We were ecstatic to learn that she received the award."

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