Kenneth E. Ramirez Duran
BS ’01 JD ’08 MPA ’10
January 6, 2015
The Golden Rule of (RAM) – Relationship, Accountability, and Mentorship
A healthy and spiritual life is about three key elements, relationships, accountability, and mentorship (RAM). Together these elements are almost as powerful as love. Early on, we learn about relationships, accountability, and mentorship from our parents, but, with adulthood, we are left to learn and develop these important aspects of life with mentors, friends, colleagues, professors, and our environment. Some of us are fortunate enough that we encounter someone who takes the initiative to nurture these elements further than what our parents taught us.
For me, this individual has been Dr. Aaron L. Horn. I was blessed enough to have met Dr. Horn when I was in my first year of law school at the Jesuit University of San Francisco. Although I can wholeheartedly say that Dr. Horn is my very good friend, he has been much more than that. He is certainly my “life coach[,]” but, in many other aspects, he has been a spiritual guide. A spiritual guide in the sense that as an adult Latino male I have to be cognizant of certain “road blocks” in life that are not impediments for other individuals. From the beginning of our friendship, Dr. Horn always said, “Kenny, I got cho’ back. No matter what reach out to me. You are not alone. Under any and all circumstances, you have someone who cares for your wellbeing.” My parents have always underscored this care and concern, but there are certain aspects of life that your parents are not able to understand, especially when you are the first in the family to reach certain milestones such as graduating college and reaching a doctoral level education.
With each milestone I reached, Dr. Horn has been there 110 percent. In one of my most arduous moments, when I was doing doctoral research in north Saint Louis, Missouri regarding inner city economic development and K-12 public education, Dr. Horn’s commitment to his mentees became more evident than ever before. As any researcher can comprehend and empathize, there are many aspects of qualitative research that can be emotionally taxing as individuals share life stories with you. These narratives are often a traumatic event that an individual has endured because of some event in his or her life. To cope with the indirect trauma, I often spoke with Dr. Horn. In each instance, Dr. Horn would always remind me that I was “part of the family,” and with that comes a sense of accountability to the African-American community. In other words, I was now part of a much larger commitment to social justice, and that in this position I had two maxims that guided my doctoral research: relationships and accountability.
Within two years in 2013, my research was selected by the World Education Research Association (WERA) to be presented at WERA’s annual conference in Guanajuato, Mexico. When I presented my research manuscript titled The US Urban Education System: A Model for Preventing Insurgencies, I recall the conversations I had with Dr. Horn where he emphasized that I was now part of a much larger commitment to social justice, and, unequivocally, Dr. Horn was correct. As I presented this research to an international community of academics, practitioners, and students, it became apparent to me that I was in this position because I had built solid relationships; I remained accountable for my actions; and, along the way, I mentored as many individuals as I could. A leading social science scholar, Dr. Daniel J. Monti, calls this the “Golden Rule.” Dr. Horn calls it RAM, and I would add that this is living life at its fullest. It is my sincerest hope that one day all of you reading this have the opportunity to experience the blessings that an individual like Dr. Horn can bring into an individual’s life.
January 15, 2014
Personal Development and Accountability
I met Dr. Horn during my sophomore year of college at the University of San Francisco in 2007. At the time I was working at Gleeson Library at the Access Services desk, and noticed Dr. Horn’s unique dedication to his studies and time spent in the library. After sharing my interest in developing a program to address the lack of access and understanding of the local natural environment to at-risk urban youth, Dr. Horn and I began meeting monthly to further organize and meet our individual and collective goals. While at the time I considered myself to be an academically successful person, Dr. Horn began to address my organizational, communication, and accountability shortfalls in order to help me become a more successful individual in all of my pursuits.
Dr. Horn became my most trusted mentor. During our monthly and at times bimonthly meetings, Dr. Horn would teach me the basic principles of accountability, both to oneself and to the people in your life. From our monthly meetings and the corresponding goals and expectations associated with each meeting, Dr. Horn demonstrated to me how one must be accountable to the commitments made in their personal and professional lives, what this accountability looks like, and most importantly, how a person must always remain accountable to oneself if he or she is to succeed at any chosen endeavor. My lessons in organization and accountability were structured both through observing Dr. Horn’s personal and professional accountability, his efforts in shaping my own organizational and accountability skills, and our shared accountability goals in relation to community projects we were collectively involved in. As his mentorship continued, Dr. Horn was also able to provide constant support both to my academic and personal challenges I faced in life, always providing a balanced perspective to achieving my goals in personal and professional development despite seemingly overwhelming adversity at times.
Due in large part to Dr. Horn’s persistent and unwavering support, I graduated from the University of San Francisco summa cum laude. In the Spring of 2013, I graduated from the University of San Francisco School of Law with my juris doctorate. The organizational, accountability, and inter-personal skills gained from my time with Dr. Horn have allowed me to succeed in legal clerkships, passing the California State Bar, and meeting the challenges of a young litigation attorney.
Dr. Horn’s dedication and belief in my passions allowed me develop significant contacts with the Bay Area community and greatly enhanced my professional skills, making me confident that my organizational and accountability proficiency will allow for me to succeed in any career path I chose. Dr. Horn was a terrific mentor and close friend, and I say with the upmost confidence that much of my success can be pinpointed to his unwavering dedication to my personal growth.