Parents on the Inside: Balancing Many Wildcat Hats

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Julio Ramirez and Annie Porges stand with daughter Elia

Elia ’19 with parents Annie Porges ’85 and Julio Ramirez

Alumna, employee, donor, fan, faculty spouse, parent. Sometimes my identity as a Wildcat is expressed singularly and other times my Wildcat-ness is represented by the jumble of emotions, thoughts and gratitude for all that Davidson means to me and to our family.

In 1981, this girl from Florida (then a foreign land to Davidson) who was not Presbyterian (the predominant tradition at the time) landed on 2nd Rich with a roommate who would put up with me for four years. In 1986, the man who would later become my husband, Julio Ramirez, arrived at Davidson as the first Hispanic faculty member to teach outside the Spanish department.

Davidson has changed since 1981 and 1986, and we couldn’t be more excited about the possibilities that are now in front of our daughter Elia ’19. Surrounded by great friends, mentored by remarkable faculty and exploring new or rediscovered interests (psychology, education, dance), Elia is engaged in a place that is in many ways new to us. Frankly, it is difficult to write through the mist in my eyes as I think through how we watch Elia from afar (though sometimes closer than she would like!) – learning, growing, occasionally stumbling and thriving.

Julio has mentored students for over 30 years now. Those same students once babysat for our children and now we celebrate their successes, attend their weddings, meet their children and support them as life sometimes takes its jagged turn. Now, too, we look at our former students with fresh eyes and with a newly found depth of gratitude as we acknowledge that our daughter will enjoy the same rich and abiding relationships in her future. We celebrate in knowing that she will return to Davidson again and again, enjoying that same support from those who are working side by side with her to create her future. Elia may have grown up in the neighborhoods of Davidson, but she is maturing into her future self in the halls of Chambers, the laboratories in Wall, her dorm room, Belk Arena, the dance studios, and in the quiet and sometimes hurried spaces in her rapidly expanding mind.

The world has become a complicated—and sometimes disorienting—place, and these complications have moved from the public sphere into our beloved bubble. As parents on the inside, we are rarely afforded the opportunity to see Davidson as a bubble. We watch students struggle with the realities of the real world, with each other and with external challenges well beyond their control. We also witness the consequent support of faculty, staff, coaches and townspeople. Sagging shoulders fall back into place, chins are lifted, eyes meet those of others, progress is made, opportunity is found and, for the most part, students find their way back to whole.

The world will always present its challenges, and Davidson will feel the impact. But from the inside, from the many Wildcat lenses through which we see, we know that Davidson—like our children—will continue to grow, and we couldn’t be happier that Elia will benefit from and contribute to this place we call home.

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About Author

Annie Porges

Annie graduated from Davidson in 1985 and serves as the senior major gifts officer in the college's development office. She and her husband, Davidson College Professor Julio Ramirez, have two children, Elia '19 and Julian, who will be a freshman at Washington & Lee this fall.

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