Younger in Age but Big in Accomplishments: Samantha Ramos-Gonzalez, 19, to Graduate with Class of 2024

Samantha Ramos-Gonzalez '24

At age 19, Samantha Ramos-Gonzalez is the youngest graduate in William Paterson University’s Class of 2024. A biology/pre-medical major with a psychology minor, Ramos-Gonzalez is also the first in her family to earn a college degree.

A resident of Passaic, New Jersey, Ramos-Gonzalez got a strong head start on her college career while she was still in high school at Passaic Academy for Science and Engineering. She took Advanced Placement courses, which can result in college credit, and she also took dual enrollment courses at her high school through Bergen Community College— earning her credits from both schools at the same time.

Then, she took her foray into college a step further.

In her junior year of high school, due to her advanced academic standing, Ramos-Gonzalez was permitted to take additional courses directly through Bergen Community College on top of her full high school course load. She subsequently earned her associate’s degree in May 2022, one month before she graduated high school.

With such a distinguished academic performance, Ramos-Gonzalez carefully considered her options for a bachelor’s degree.

“It was one of the most diverse campuses that I had visited on my tours,” Ramos-Gonzalez says definitively, of WP. “I feel so comfortable here.” 

“I definitely felt younger than everyone else at first,” she continues, explaining that some of her professors questioned how a freshman got into an upper-level course. “It was hilarious to me with the professors in the beginning,” she says. “But making friends at William Paterson, I really didn’t find it any different.”

One of her best friends on campus? A student who is graduating a year ahead of schedule. “She thought she was the youngest in the Class of 2024,” Ramos-Gonzalez says, noting the irony of their friendship.

Though her longtime plans have included medical school and dreams of becoming a gynecologist, a microbiology course at WP has Ramos-Gonzalez thinking twice about her post-Commencement path. “I really liked microbiology, so if I’m working somewhere in the lab, that’s totally fine with me, too. I’m undecided. The master’s program in biotechnology here at William Paterson is really interesting to me; I looked into it and I really like it.”

She subsequently plans to pursue certification as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) or Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) first, to both boost her resumé and get experience working directly with patients. By this time next year, Ramos-Gonzalez hopes to have decided on her next move.

Whichever direction she goes, Ramos-Gonzalez is blazing a path for her family. Her four younger siblings look up to her, often waiting for her to get home from campus—she takes the bus back and forth as a commuter student—to ask for homework help. Her cousin is a high school senior, and WP is on her list of college prospects.

Her mother, she says, doesn’t know what “the regular” is for college performance and experiences, so she’s happily going along with her daughter’s unconventional journey. She attended her daughter’s community college graduation ceremony, high school awards ceremony, and high school graduation ceremony all within days of each other, Ramos-Gonzalez adds, laughing.

In a couple of weeks, her mom will proudly attend one more ceremony for her eldest daughter, which is surely not going to be the last.