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Founder | Senior Business Development Manager
Underdog Coaching | Duolingo

Heritage: Mexican

By: Frank Morris Lopez

Awards & Recognitions

  • Dean’s Scholar - MIT Sloan (2019-2021)

  • Underdog Coaching accepted to MIT delta v accelerator (2021)

What matters most to José Ramos? “For me it’s not wasting the sacrifices my parents made so my brother and I could have a lot more access,” he said.

Born in Mexico, Ramos was raised in Southern California after his parents immigrated to the United States. “They did a really good job of raising a really Mexican household. I don’t remember the last time I spoke to my parents in English,” Ramos said.

His family has always been very close so when he decided to move all the way across the country to Massachusetts, it was one of the hardest decisions he’s ever had to make.

But Ramos felt he had to. After getting his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of California Irvine he felt the pressure to make good on the opportunity given to him. “It was kind of a feeling that since my parents had sacrificed so much by coming here, I needed to spread my wings as much as possible and not take that for granted,” he said.

Ramos said he felt the pressure to become the founder of a major multimillion-dollar company by age 25. In that pursuit he worked for three different startups in the Boston tech ecosystem from 2016 to 2019. He then attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, pursuing a master’s in business administration.

At MIT, he looked for ways to open doors for others from underrepresented backgrounds. In his first few months on campus, he was named co-president of the Hispanic Business Club, and later launched the More Than Ready Scholarship to help Latino students cover costs of applying to MBA programs. He also mentored students through Hack.Diversity, a career development program for Black and Latino tech talent looking to launch or advance their careers. In addition, he co-founded Mindfulness & Leadership, an MIT Sloan club enabling future business leaders with a mindfulness toolkit. 

On top of all this, Ramos volunteered as a Big Brother through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Massachusetts. “For me, the biggest moment was when I gave [my little brother] an MIT hat. I told him, ‘hey, it’s not about going to MIT, but that if you put your mind to it, you can do anything.’”

In making sure he never lets a moment go to waste, Ramos works as both a senior business development manager for Duolingo, as well as the founder of Underdog Coaching, a network of informal mentors who provide one-to-one guidance for young people applying to college or other degree programs with the goal of democratizing social capital and access to top degree programs across the country.

“I think the best thing we can do for one another is just encourage each other,” Ramos said, “so long as it’s tied to being a good person and service to the community.”

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