Carolyn Bogott: A breath of fresh air for Austin

Published 5:33 pm Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Karem Salas Ramirez is a breath of fresh air in our community.  She loves Austin, values what this place has given her and her family and has chosen to live and work here.

Karem came to Austin with her parents and sisters from Morelos, Mexico, when she was eight years old. Hers is a classic immigrant story. She admires the strength and bravery of her parents to leave their home and culture to find a new life away from crime and violence. They were willing to sacrifice in order to give their daughters a better life with more opportunities. She says they came here to work and that was their focus when Karem was growing up. 

Karem Salas Ramirez

Karem saw that her response to their sacrifice was to do her best in school and be a good person. She graduated from Austin High School and then went to Riverland Community College for her AA degree. During her school days, Karem said she felt a little isolated as one of the few students of color.  At Riverland she met a wide variety of people and tried lots of new things. Those two years gave her a chance to build confidence and “spread her wings.” 

It was there that she developed a passion to impact the community.  She continued her education  at the University Minnesota, majoring in International Relations. At that point, she chose to come back to Austin to repay in some way for the opportunities her family has received.

For two years, Karem was a success coach at Sumner Elementary School. She loved that role, supporting families of immigrant families and helping the communication between school and homes. She could remember in her elementary school days that she had to translate for her own parent- teacher conferences as no translators were provided by the school. In her success coach role, she liked being able to help the teachers understand what would help the students bridge the cultural differences between this culture and the culture of their parents.

When a job opened for Community Impact Coordinator opened at the United Way of Mower County, Karem saw the job as a place where she could have greater impact in helping the community. It was painful to leave the students at Sumner; however, she is very pleased with her United Way job where she feels she has the opportunity for personal growth as well as greater impact.

“Karem is deeply committed to United Way’s mission and acts with understanding and appreciation for her role in positively impacting the lives of others,” said Executive Director Molly Lanke. “She doesn’t just identify problems, she solves them, and I wholeheartedly believe that our community shines brighter because of Karem’s leadership. To watch Karem grow as a leader through her time at United Way has been a true joy, and to grow alongside her as a leader, myself, a great honor.”

Other community contributions that Karem is making include membership on the Austin City Planning Commission, Austin Area Foundation, Impact Austin, Riverland Foundation’s Community Outreach Committee and mentoring a high school student as part of the Mower County CEO program.

Karem is pleased with the welcome that Austin leadership gives to the growing diversity of our community and sees a strong future for this town.        

We appreciate your hopeful spirit and your contributions to Austin, Karem, and look forward to your future leadership.

For more information about the Austin Branch of AAUW, contact Sue Grove  or Carolyn Bogott The American Association of University Women, now AAUW, is open to anyone who has completed a two-year degree or beyond.  AAUW welcomes men who support our objectives and there are student memberships available. AAUW has been empowering women since 1881.  We support equity and education for women.  Scholarships are offered, as well as help in litigation in cases dealing with sex discrimination.  We are the most important and highly respected research and lobbying organization dealing with women’s issues such as equal opportunity and job equality.