Jose Ramirez ’63 is a Cuban born and now U.S. citizen author and proud alum of Bishop Kenny High School. Jose came from humble beginnings in a small town of Cuba called Aguacate and was 15 years old when he arrived in the United States.
In 1961, at the conclusion of his first year of high school in Cuba, Jose became a part of a program that sent children out of Cuba to avoid the Communist regime. This program became known as Operation Pedro Pan. From an early age, and much to the credit of his parents who were always quick to provide opportunities for his life, Jose learned to adapt to the many changes that would soon unfold in his life.
Upon first leaving Cuba, Jose arrived in Miami and spent a short time there. He was then given the choice to move to Jacksonville or stay put. Two factors played into Jose’s decision to take the opportunity and move to Jacksonville: He wanted to learn English fast and he had no family with him. He arrived at Camp St. John, a refugee camp for Cuban boys located on the outskirts of Jacksonville on February 8, 1961 and spent the rest of his high school career at Bishop Kenny.
Bishop Kenny was not just a school for Jose, but a safe-haven. Having left parents, home, and friends in Cuba, his whole life was different. Some of Jose’s favorite memories from BK include the welcome he received from his classmates during a difficult time in his life, his time as a member of the BKHS band and the time he spent at school with his fellow campers in which they learned English from their American classmates. His favorite teachers were Mr. Charles Hoffecker and Coach Joe Parete.
Jose began working immediately following graduation in 1963 and continued his schooling as best he could. He began college at Merrimack College in Massachusetts in 1966 with the original goal of becoming a doctor. Jose did not become a doctor, but he became a husband and father and pursued a career in human resources management with a specialty in employee relations at the international level. He ultimately received a Master’s degree from Boston University. Soon after, he began his teaching career as an adjunct professor at Northeastern University and his writing career began in 2005.
Jose has written several books including Defining Moments and Cuba and the “Last” Baseball Season – the first book about his life’s journey to the United States and the second about “the forgotten” baseball players from Cuba and how the Castro regime affected baseball in Cuba. Today, Jose is still writing and travels to give lectures and presentations. He recently received the John Curtis Library Award for Lifelong Learning in Hanover, Massachusetts.
Jose has remained involved in his faith and has continued to pursue education throughout his life. His advice for students is this: “Life is about learning. No matter how difficult it appears to be at times, an education presents you with options to pursue things later in life. Learning enables you to open all the doors. It is the key to a better life in the future.”
Learn more about Jose at: Joseramirezcuba.com