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Alumnus Profile: Emma Eden Ramos '07

Authored By: 
James Vescovi, English Teacher

When Emma Eden Ramos walked into The Beekman School in 2003, she found a haven. “Beekman gave me the opportunity to be myself without feeling self-conscious or ashamed,” she says. Moreover, the school also allowed her to focus on her studies and her dreams.

After graduating, Emma earned a B.S. in Psychology at Marymount in 2007.  While she imagines eventually earning an M.S.W., her focus now is her writing, and in a short time she’s achieved a great deal of success. Her first fiction book was a middle-grade novella called The Realm of the Lost, published in 2012 by MuseItUp Publishing, and her short stories have appeared in Stories for Children Magazine, The Legendary, The Citron Review, BlazeVOX Journal, and other journals. She also writes poetry and her chapbook, Three Women: A Poetic Triptych and Selected Poems, was shortlisted for the 2011 Independent Literary Award in Poetry. Her latest book, published this year, is Still, At Your Door: A Fictional Memoir.

What did you take away from The Beekman School?

I attended a number of New York prep schools before finding my place at Beekman. I'd grown accustomed to feeling out of place and alienated by my teachers and peers, so I didn't have high expectations when I walked into my first Beekman class. There were two students, Danni and Gavin, discussing an article on Peter Singer. Gavin was dressed like a businessman--leather briefcase, suit and tie--while Danni looked more like your typical teen. The teacher had both students engaged in a lively debate over the “Dangerous Philosopher.” I was immediately welcomed, given a summary of the article and encouraged to participate.

What was the discussion like?

It was my introduction to Socratic learning--something I would come into contact with again in college. Beekman helped me cultivate my critical thinking skills and, even more importantly (I was, after all, only fifteen), allowed me to feel comfortable expressing myself. I could share my opinions without feeling I’d spoken out of turn. Plus, I could come to class dressed in a suit and tie without being sneered at.  

How did a psych major become a writer?

I began writing seriously in my second year of college and, after being commissioned to write a poetry chapbook, took time off to write and work. I met and fell in love with a little boy with Down’s Syndrome. Writing and working with disabled children are my two passions.

Did you take any creative writing courses?

I took an intensive fiction workshop at Columbia in 2010. Two years later, I took a screenwriting course at Brooklyn College. I feel fortunate to have experimented with two very different writing mediums.

What teachers influenced you along the way?

I decided to major in psychology after taking two semesters of the course at Beekman. My Beekman psych teacher did a great job preparing me for my major. There were also two Marymount professors: one who taught me to write, and another who encouraged me to continue writing.

You said that you wrote evenings while in college? How many hours could you squeeze in?

When I was a full-time student, I wrote for about four hours every evening.

Really?! When did you sleep?

I’d generally finish writing at 2 AM, and wake up at 6 AM to do school work. Now that I’m an old lady who needs her rest, I write early in the morning. I generally put in about five hours.

What year did you publish your first book?

Three Women: A Poetic Triptych was published in 2011. It was shortlisted for the Independent Literary Award later that year.

What appeals to you about writing books for young adults?

I like staying in touch with my young adult voice. I miss being in my late teens. Most of the people I’ve spoken with hated their adolescence because they hated high school. I found a home at Beekman. When I get to be seventeen again, I reconnect with that girl who walked into a brownstone on East 50th Street and realized she wasn’t a freak.

What are you doing now besides writing? Do you have a 9-5 or a part-time job?

I work with a young boy who has Down’s Syndrome. I am in the process of getting certified to be a Community Habilitation Leader for children with special needs.

Do you ever want to practice as a psychologist/therapist in the future?

I can imagine myself getting an MSW at some point. I don’t, however, think I want to practice individual psychotherapy.

What’s your most recent book?

It is titled Still, At Your Door: A Fictional Memoir. It just released in February.  It’s the story of a girl, Sabrina "Bri" Gibbons, and her two sisters whose mother drops them off in New York with their grandparents. They’re fleeing a past that includes the death of their father and their mother’s bizarre behavior, not to mention a very dark secret. Bri watches her sisters struggle, knowing the lack of any sense of security will make it impossible for them to carry on as “normal” children. She finally lets her guard down enough to allow someone else into her life and sees a faint glimmer that her dreams might be attainable. But disaster strikes again, this time targeting her sister. Still, Bri fights to attain her dreams despite her harsh reality.