Jose Ramirez Jr. grew up in Long Beach but quickly set down roots in the Bay Area while studying social welfare at Cal. His first opportunity to put his learning into practice was at Berkeley's King Middle School via Stiles Hall, where he taught summer school and worked as a tutor and resource specialist with English-language learner students. He later spent one year working with Latino families on the Peninsula to raise awareness about college and to help with the application process; one year with Cal's MESA (Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement) program; and four years with the Cal Corps Public Service Center, Berkeley's volunteer hub, where he supported student-led projects and helped to run a literacy program for kids in Berkeley and Oakland.
Ramirez has since returned to Southern California, where he is now an assistant director for community-based research and learning at Pomona College's Draper Center for Community Partnerships. As a board member of the Southern Cal Alumni Coalition, he has helped students at under-resourced schools complete their college applications, and as an active member of his Cal fraternity, Gamma Zeta Alpha, he has run a series of leadership retreats.