Many liberal arts alumni speak fondly of formative professors and classes that helped shape their career path, and Alyssa Ramirez, who received her B.A. in English from The University of Texas at Austin in 2010, is no exception.
During her time at the university, Ramirez worked as an undergraduate research apprentice for her favorite professor, Robert Abzug, with whom she also took three courses. Together, they edited William James’s lengthy “Varieties of Religious Experience” down to a manageable size for undergraduate coursework.
“Alyssa and I produced a version of the book that has received wide praise from folks who know the original text backwards and forwards,” says Abzug, who directs the Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies and is a professor in the Departments of History and American Studies.
From her work on the book project, Ramirez says she gained some valuable real-world skills for life after college.
“The most useful thing I learned was how to stand my ground when we had a difference of opinion and negotiate well and respectfully,” says Ramirez. “I think that’s a skill that does not come naturally to a lot of young people — especially young women — right out of college, and it’s one that’s been invaluable to me both at my day job and in my volunteer work.”
Ramirez received funding from the College of Liberal Arts for her work with Abzug. Today, she is assisting Abzug in the Schusterman Center, in addition to serving as first-editor for his current research projects.
“We forged such a good working relationship and trust that when I needed a new staff person at the Schusterman Center – and also one who could aid in moving along another book project – Alyssa was my very first choice,” Abzug says. “She has been a superlative editor, designer, course scheduler, and I would say by now, a friend for life.”
In addition to her work at the Schusterman Center, Ramirez also volunteers as the managing editor for an independent, nonprofit Austin-based literary annual called Unstuck, which publishes literary fiction that has a surreal, fantastic or sci-fi element. As managing editor, she does everything from administrative tasks, like organizing events and booking studio time for our upcoming podcast, to more substantive editorial work, like helping authors revise stories.
“Working for Unstuck is the most favorite thing in my life, and besides my job, the most important,” Ramirez says. “In an indirect, winding way, I feel like my work as Dr. Abzug’s undergraduate research apprentice helped me achieve this position. Thanks to that grant, I graduated with experience editing material substantively, which gave me the confidence to pursue my passion for writing and editing.”
For more information on becoming involved with undergraduate research visit this website.