“How I Do It” introduces you to a local mom and how she juggles life. This week: Athena Ramos, a program coordinator for the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s College of Public Health in the Center for Reducing Health Disparities. She’s a 32-year-old mother to three children – Jonathan, 9, Nicholas, 8, and Italia, who turns 1 on Feb. 10. She and her husband, Jose Sanchez, are raising their children in Bellevue.
Athena has been recognized numerous times for her commitment and dedication to making Omaha and Nebraska a better place to live, work, and play.
She was recently named one of the Ten Outstanding Young Omahans, the American Heart Association’s Advocacy Volunteer of the Year Award, Latina of the Year, and was recognized as one of Sarpy County’s 40 Women Under 40.
Athena has been with UNMC for five years now and thoroughly loves her job.
“I get to develop and oversee community-based health education and research projects, manage our center’s budget, collaborate with various community groups, and be engaged in a dialogue about what’s good and what could be better in our community,” she said.
She currently serves on one board of directors for a local non-profit organization that provides immigration legal services, Justice for Our Neighbors.
TIP: I don’t have a do-to list. Instead, what I do is schedule everything into my Outlook calendar, both professional and personal. So say I need to work on some materials for a fundraiser, I actually schedule the time I think I will need to accomplish it into my calendar and block the time so I can actually get it done.
TIP: We don’t have TV in our living room. We actually have space for us to sit, lay, and play without the distraction of the TV.
TIP: Take away the video games from your kids. Work with them to play and be active using their bodies and their minds.
BALANCING WORK AND FAMILY TIME
Working in the College of Public Health allows for some flexibility, and UNMC offers great benefits. Being active in your family is encouraged. For example, I am able to schedule my lunchtime during my day to go breastfeed the baby.
I’m also an adjunct instructor at Metro Community College where I teach Human Relations Skills. This is a great class! It’s fun and for the students the material is useful. I love teaching. My students come from diverse backgrounds, life experiences, and help me to grow as a person.
SOMETHING NO ONE ELSE KNOWS
I’ve had to make many sacrifices in order to juggle everything and keep all the balls in the air. I had to resign from some boards of directors and really narrow down my priorities.
I would love to do a PhD but right now with three young kids, it’s really challenging to find time to be able to apply and complete a program without interfering in the family time that I really value. I would love to live abroad for a few months at a time or open up a coffee shop, but reality is I need to work.
My husband usually works on the weekends so a lot of the time I spend them alone with the kids. I need to get out of the house everyday so we usually go out even if that means going to a store. Many times we try to be tourists in our city/state and go explore new places that we haven’t been. In my house, they call me a “gypsy” because I don’t like to stay home. I like to be moving and seeing new things, trying new things, and experiencing life.
MORE ABOUT MY FAMILY
Jonathan is a good artist and writer. Nicholas is a clown, and he makes a ton of silly faces. He talks with big words that he doesn’t know the meaning of and creates new ones that we don’t know the meaning of like “cheche” which according to him means “a crazy loca that farts a lot.” Italia is what made me fall in love with being a mom all over again. Jose – wow – I knew from the day I met him that this was the man for me.
I WISH I COULD…
I wish I could figure out a way to get Nick to be quiet sometimes. He’s usually so excited when he talks that he talks like he’s screaming half the time. It’s great that he’s such a happy kid, but I wish I could get him to tone it down just a little at least in the house.
MOST INFLUENTIAL PERSON IN YOUR LIFE
My Daddy has been the most influential person in my life. He died in 2009, but we were extremely close. I spent most of my childhood growing up with him because my Mom had to work since they were divorced. I learned to play cars and he learned how to play Barbies. He always gave me a lot of advice (sometimes more than I wanted, but how much I miss those conversations now).
He taught me to have a strong work ethic and that if you work hard you can be anything that you wanted to be. He encouraged me to be independent and never to have to depend on a man for anything … that I should be able to make it on my own. He taught me to tell the truth, that honesty is the best policy, and that it’s OK to feel sad sometimes. It’s OK to cry. I learned discipline, love, and passion. I was his passion. His love for me was evident in everything that he did.
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ALSO READ: “A real-life haute mommy,” “Former Husker talks about pro career, being a dad”, “Teacher Gabrielle Gaines-Liwaru,” among others in our “How I Do It” series.
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