Spotlight Class of 2020: Miguel Ruiz – To Make a Change for Others, He Made a Change in Himself
Growing up, Miguel Ruiz was not a highly motivated student. “I wasn’t a bookworm or very involved in my studies,” he admitted. But along the way, Miguel saw how the sacrifices made by his single mother and the support from other family members ensured that he was raised well.
That served as an inspiration to him and planted the seed for what would grow to be a desire to make a difference in society and in people’s lives.
“By the time I graduated high school, I realized that life was more than just doing the bare minimum,” Miguel explained. “To make a change for others, you have to make a change in yourself. That was the realization I needed to shape up, study hard, and excel at whatever I do in this world.”
His resolve paid off. Miguel graduates as a valedictorian in the Class of 2020 with a perfect 4.0 GPA. He receives his Associate in Arts Degree in Liberal Arts/Humanities with highest honors and will transfer on full scholarship to Rutgers-Newark to study public administration.
“I was ecstatic,” said Miguel when he learned he would be a valedictorian. “My family was immensely proud that I was the first in the family to achieve such an outstanding academic achievement.”
Miguel is also the 2020 recipient of The Honors Program Award. The Honors Program offers high-achieving students a more rigorous course of study. In his two years at PCCC, Miguel has taken a total of 10 demanding Honors courses, more than any other student in PCCC’s history.
In addition, he received the award for outstanding graduate in his major, Liberal Arts/Humanities and is a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.
Beyond academics, Miguel served as managing editor of Visions, the student newspaper, and joined the Men of Color initiative, a support and success group at the College.
“My PCCC experience has been nothing but positive,” said Miguel. He considers “the exceptional professors I had,” to be the most valuable part of his college experience. “I can safely say I made the right choice enrolling at PCCC.”
While attending PCCC, Miguel worked as a National Park Ranger for the Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park, an experience that further influenced his decision to study public administration and to pursue a career in the U.S. Department of the Interior.
“Working for the National Park Service has been eye-opening,” he said. “I never knew I could enjoy public service so much.” Through giving talks to visitors at the Great Falls and helping to conserve and maintain the land and cultural value of the area, Miguel realized that public service was his life’s calling.
He also contributed scholarly research to PCCC’s National Endowment for the Humanities grant — Discovering Paterson. Miguel wrote two research papers, both based on primary sources, about the early history of the Great Falls of Paterson and about national political candidates and Presidents who have visited Paterson.
“My career goal is to work in the federal government at an administrative level, serving the people of this country not as a politician but as a dutiful public servant,” Miguel declared.
Alongside that altruistic professional goal is an equally selfless personal one. “The entire purpose of my success and my continuing journey to claim my future career,” said Miguel, “is to one day repay the countless sacrifices that my mother and the rest of my family made for me.”
Written by Linda Telesco