“I have a better understanding of the world now than when I
was out in it.” – Mike Ramsey ’15
Navy veteran finds new skills—and friends in the ring
Mike Ramsey ’15 is used to drawing attention. As one of the only men in the collegiate equestrian field—and the only male on Randolph’s team—Ramsey knows he is somewhat of an anomaly.
But when he’s in the ring or at Randolph’s Riding Center, he feels at home. It’s a far cry from his time stationed aboard the Navy’s flagship, the USS Blue Ridge, in Japan. “I traded in a boat full of mostly men to a team full of women,” he laughed. “Coming from the military to live behind ‘the Red Brick Wall,’ took me out of my comfort zone,” Ramsey said. “I attribute the riding team with allowing me to become a real part of the Randolph community.”
During his first year at Randolph, Ramsey signed up for a riding class, hoping to rekindle his love of horses while also meeting a new group of people. A recent transfer student, the 28-year-old U.S. Navy veteran had limited equestrian experience beyond trail riding as a child.
Fast forward a few months and he found himself an active member of Randolph’s riding team. “I used to ride when I was younger, but not English riding and definitely not show,” said Ramsey. “I could have said, ‘This is my PE class, and now I’m done.’ But people saw potential in me and encouraged me to go on.”
His hard work recently paid off. Ramsey placed in the top 10 at the national level of the IHSA National Horse Show. He is the third Randolph student in two years to earn a coveted spot at this competition.
Riding has given him a second family at school, but he credits Randolph’s professors and alumnae for helping him figure out his life goals. “I came in here knowing I wanted to be an environmental studies major,” Ramsey said. “But I didn’t know what I wanted to do with it.”
Though he has traveled the world, Ramsey believes he has learned more about other cultures while at Randolph. “I have a better understanding of the world now than when I was out in it,” he said. Much of that broad view is because of the liberal arts curriculum. “It’s critical thinking,” Ramsey said. “It’s looking at our social structure in a different way.
“A liberal arts education is hard. It’s broad. But there is so much support here,” he added. The Randolph Plan, for instance, helped him visualize his accomplishments and the things he needed to do to reach his goals. “It changed, but whenever that happened, my advisor was there to help me adjust it.”
Ramsey’s eyes were opened after meeting several alumnae who returned to campus to talk about their careers in the field. “To see how successful these women have been has really changed my perspective,” he said. “There is something out there for me that is going to be incredible, and I just need to stay focused and connected to our alumni. It’s going to happen, and I know I’ll be ready.”