If you’ve participated in a webinar, volunteered for commencement or attended any one of Stanislaus State’s in-person or virtual events held during the past 22 months, chances are you’ve experienced Dawn Ramirez’s handywork.
As an events assistant for the Division of University Advancement, Ramirez is part of the team that helps organize and execute many of Stan State’s events. She’s done everything from handing out gift boxes to graduating Warriors and setting up departmental Zoom meetings to planning celebrations for scholarship winners.
“I assist and oversee department events on campus, review events in 25Live and guide clients through the approvals process,” Ramirez said. “I can point you to which departments can help you with your needs for a particular event.”
Her role calls for her to be a jack of all trades: Organizer. Communicator. Technician. Problem solver. Cheerleader. And she takes on each role with zeal, whether it’s for a small or large-scale event.
“I love working events and providing service to our campus community members and beyond,” she said. “Many times, when someone is planning an event, they are so stressed, and it becomes a big chore to them. I love that we can streamline the process for them. To see them relax and say, ‘Oh, this is great, they’ve got it handled,’ that is one of my favorite parts of the job.”
Ramirez began her current position at Stan State in November 2019, but her affiliation with the University stretches back many years. She started as a casual worker in 2015, assisting with events as a side job. She transitioned to being a temporary worker for University Advancement in April 2019 before the division hired her seven months later.
Prior to joining the University, Ramirez already had an extensive background in event planning and customer service from working in the wedding industry. In addition to helping brides, grooms and their wedding parties with their attire, she sometimes booked venues for clients, including locations at the Turlock campus.
“I love working events and providing service to our campus community members and beyond. Many times, when someone is planning an event, they are so stressed, and it becomes a big chore to them. I love that we can streamline the process for them. To see them relax and say, ‘Oh, this is great, they’ve got it handled,’ that is one of my favorite parts of the job.”
Dawn Ramirez, Events Assistant
It was through her wedding-industry work that Ramirez met Monica Doll, Stan State’s director of University Events. The three-person events team, which also includes Senior Events Analyst Michael Cunha, shares the workload of planning the campus’s gatherings. Commencement, convocation and other events with more than 200 attendees are considered large-scale affairs, and collectively, the team coordinates between 20 and 30 large events annually. Each individual team member organizes as many as 60 smaller events, such as departmental meetings, per semester.
Event planning changed dramatically last year when the pandemic forced the campus to transition to remote operations in mid-March of 2020.
“When the pandemic hit, we canceled all events for two weeks out, thinking we were coming back,” Ramirez recalled.
When it became clear remote operations would continue, “we pivoted to Zoom with the Office of Information Technology’s support,” Ramirez said. “And now we can run events and meetings online.
“We did a lot of training and practicing together. It was very important for us to practice with each other, so we weren’t learning during a live event. Sometimes there were hiccups, and we would share that information with each other so we could learn from it and move forward. We strive to make sure clients know they can count on us.”
Ramirez said she and the team faced their biggest challenge last spring when the Stan State organized nine in-person commencement ceremonies for the Class of 2020 and Class of 2021. She accepted the challenge of helping to put together and run the slide show of participating students.
“That was the scariest: knowing that so many graduates were counting on their names being called,” she said.
As the campus moves forward with its repopulation plan, Ramirez thinks that hybrid events are going to be big for a while.
“We will be pivoting again. If an event is going to be hybrid, then we want to make sure that whoever is attending virtually feels just as included and important as the guests who are present.”
When she’s not working, Ramirez — a married mother of two adult sons who are currently serving in the U.S. military — enjoys hiking, biking, being out on the water, walking and running. She’s completed one full marathon, 13 half marathons and 10 5K races.
When asked what she loves most about her job, she doesn’t hesitate: “Creating really good relationships across the campus, and the sense of community,” she said. “I feel like we all really do care for each other.”