The Gift of Hope

Anthony Ramos ’16, 2021 Distinguished Young Alumnus of the Year

Is there any hope? Again and again, this harrowing question echoed in Anthony’s young mind. By age 16, growing up in the barrios of North Philadelphia, his level of expectation for the future became clouded by despair. Already bearing the weight of addiction to drugs and alcohol, dropping out of high school, and feeling devalued by the downward pull of negative influences, he had to make a decision.

When Anthony surrendered his life to Jesus, everything around him looked different. The dark cloud that seemed to hover over his life and cloak his dreams with depression began to recede. Words from Scripture started to sound like the voice of God. He actually began believing the promise, “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you...” (Jer. 29:11).

The force of this new joy propelled him to share his hope with whoever would listen. In a moment, he went from not seeing a way forward for himself to showing others the enlightening gift of the gospel. “I unashamedly shared with youth in my neighborhood who knew me pre-conversion and witnessed the change in my life. I invited them to a youth service, and I can still vividly remember more than 30 youth walking with me over two miles to get there,” Anthony recounts. 

Helping others to dream again and see the possibility of a better future has been the focus of his life ever since. After graduating from Esperanza College with his associate degree and then Eastern University with a bachelor’s in Social Work, Anthony Ramos '16 serves as the Project Director at Esperanza (“New Hope”). In his work, he helps youth ministry leaders and pastors across Eastern Pennsylvania avoid burn-out by building a supportive community around them. 

After hours, Anthony invests his time teaching as an adjunct professor at Esperanza College. He also enjoys mentoring young men aged 13-18 in the Timoteo Flag Football league. In 2018, a young man with uncontrollable anger joined the team. “At first, I thought, it was going to be nearly impossible for his outlook to turn around. It was difficult to lead him; and his background of violence created avenues of at-risk behavior,” Anthony confesses. “Today, I can say he is a completely different person, and a young man who I consider to be family. I can see how love really invaded his life and situation and shifted his outlook.”

Whatever the conversation, you can find Anthony actively listening to the stories of others (a skill he attributes to his time at Eastern) and looking for ways to help others see beyond their “dead-ends'' into the expansive horizons that await them. A hopeful perspective is contagious, and Anthony’s commitment to spreading that gift with his neighbors is causing them to flourish.

This article was originally featured in the Spring 2021 Edition of Eastern Magazine. View the full magazine here.