Taking a summer tour of Monmouth University, I immediately felt the warmth and comforts of my home, while being inspired to grow intellectually, physically, and spiritually. Walking around the beautiful campus, meeting future faculty and students … I knew it would be a great fit for me. Growing up a jersey girl and near the beach, MU gave me a natural, positive, welcoming feel. My undergrad experience was incredibly enjoyable and rewarding, as I created dozens of lifelong friendships and participated in crucial networking. Between the S.O.S and Delta Phi Epsilon, I was extremely happy and fulfilled throughout my undergrad. I would spend “all-nighters” in Howard Hall with one of my friends, Jackie Dutch (Kollinger) studying for Organic Chemistry, BioChem & Genetics. In retrospect, I learned this did NOT help my test scores, but it created very fond memories. My overall experiences at MU provided me with the education, life skills, and tools that I used to adapt and advance into the better working habits that I now use in my professional career.
Studying Biology at MU put me in the right place at the right time! During my Senior year at MU, I took an internship at a local raw material supplier in the cosmetic industry, learned how to formulate beauty care products on the job and started traveling both domestically and internationally. What was there not to love? I was exposed to every aspect of the beauty care world in my first few years post MU, which opened a ton of doors … even the door that had me relocate to sunny California! Moving was scary, difficult, and uncomfortable. Yet, deep in my subconscious, I knew I had to seize this incredible opportunity. Uniquely, this opportunity changed my life on numerous levels. As it turns out, my move to California SAVED my life! Living and working only five months in my new surroundings, on April 20th, 2019, I survived a near fatal brain aneurysm from a hemorrhagic stroke (AVM rupture). At 31 years old, after being in the hospital for 100 days (where half of my skull was placed in a high-tech freezer for a couple months), I had to learn how to walk and move my left arm and hand again. With the support of my neurosurgeons, neurologists, nurses, physical trainers, family, friends, tremendous positive thinking, willpower, and a lot of luck, I’m extremely fortunate to have the ability to make a full recovery.
This life altering situation allowed me to have a new perspective on life. I am currently working in Product Development for beauty care products.
Life never turns out exactly how you plan or image it to be. However, preparing and continuing to prepare yourself with a great education, healthy work ethic and life skills, maintaining a positive attitude and continuing to surround yourself with inspirational people, will help you grow throughout all the challenges life will throw at you. Planning is great, but how you respond to life’s adversities and move forward is the most important. MU (specifically a degree in the SOS), has taught me that the journey is difficult, terrifying and often messy. However, if you hang on the reward is GRAND. My little sister, Stephanie Ramos, would always tell me “keep swimming … you got this”! Inspired by Ellen DeGeneres, this has become one of my biggest MO’s. Don’t give up. Life is beautiful and what you make of it.
Personal Instagram @gillianratto
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