On November 17, the College of Health and Human Services will host the 2022 Health and Human Services Hero Awards to recognize individuals who are making a bold difference right here in the Central Valley. We will highlight the ten honorees in our Heroes Blog Series.

hero22_kramirez_smName: Kris Ramirez

Occupation: Pediatric Physical Therapist, Exceptional Parents Unlimited Children’s Center

Nominated by: Department of Physical Therapy

For Kris Ramirez, being a pediatric physical therapist at Exceptional Parents Unlimited (EPU) Children’s Center is a job that fills her with gratitude and pride. 

“I love working with the kids and sharing the joy of firsts with the family. Sometimes it is the joy of first steps or rolling over for the first time,” Ramirez said. “For other families it is sharing an accomplishment they were told their child would never do like a first smile for the parent. Any first, big or small, is celebrated and I love being a part of that with the family.”

Ramirez makes it her goal to share that same joy with physical therapy students from Fresno State’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program. Through EPU, Ramirez provides hands-on pediatric clinical experiences for up to 34 students each year for up to four to six weeks at a time. As their clinical instructor, Ramirez helps students put into practice what they have learned in the classroom, thereby greatly enhancing their learning experience. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she even converted the clinical experience into telehealth, ensuring both students and clients’ families were never without services or clinical opportunities. 

“When the opportunity came for the pediatric lab to get hands-on experience at EPU, I was excited for the opportunity,” Ramirez said. “The first year was a success! The parents of the children were happy have extra therapy and they enjoyed the enthusiasm of the DPT students, who were happy to have real life clinical opportunities.”

This is just one example of Ramirez’s staunch commitment to the department and Fresno State. Aside from serving as a clinical instructor for the past five years and volunteering with the pediatrics course on campus, she also offers her time to help prepare hands-on lab practical exams. A 1988 alumna of the physical therapy program, Ramirez says her desire to give back is rooted in her own experiences as a bulldog. 

“I loved my time at Fresno State, especially during my time in the physical therapy program,” Ramirez said. “I also remember my lack of confidence and how much I struggled with my initial pediatric experience. By providing opportunities for the students I hope to give them confidence with any pediatric experiences they may have in their future and maybe someone who never considered pediatric physical therapy may find an interest they never knew they had.”

A native of northern California, Ramirez says she is thankful for all the support the Central Valley community gave her when she was a student nearly 40 years ago. In fact, it is the catalyst for why she strives to stay connected to the program today.

“I always knew I wanted to give back in some way,” she said. 

The 2022 Health and Human Services Hero Awards, which celebrates heroes from each of the seven departments, as well as centers and institutes within our college, will be held virtually this year. For more information on the event, contact Beth Wilkinson at bwilkinson@csufresno.edu.