Rev. Rhina Ramos ’95 has had a career that has taken her in many unexpected directions. After graduating law school, Rhina worked as a labor and employment lawyer until she decided to attend divinity school, and eventual founded her own ministry. While her job title has changed throughout the years, her passion for community organizing and social justice work has remained constant. Today, Rhina is helping her community deal with the immense challenges of COVID-19.
Rhina’s journey began as a young girl living in El Salvador. Due to the country’s violent civil war, she eventually fled with her brother, making two harrowing attempts before they made it through the U.S. border. They were ultimately reunited with their mother on Long Island.
Starting Hofstra Law in the early 90s, Rhina was drawn to work that would help other immigrants and marginalized groups. As a student, she developed a special interest in labor and employment law, and started working at The Workplace Project, focusing on issues involving immigrant workers in landscaping, construction, and domestic work industries. She continued to work with them for seven years after graduation until she started to burn out and felt a calling to pursue a different kind of work.
As a labor and employment lawyer, Rhina found great satisfaction in the elements of her job that positioned her as a community organizer and activist. With the encouragement of friends and mentors, as well as her personal desire to find “a place where I would feel welcome and could welcome others of all identities to worship in Spanish,” she was ordained, and founded Ministerio Latino, a Spanish-speaking LGBTQ-inclusive ministry based in California.
As a pastor, she still focuses on many of the same social justice issues as when she was a lawyer, only now through the lens of faith. Due to the current health crisis, her ministry is reaching more people than ever through technology, and she continues to advocate for those who are Spanish speaking, marginalized, seeking asylum, or otherwise on the fringe. Through Rhina’s efforts, Ministerio Latino is able to offer community grants to help those facing food insecurity and other economic related challenges in light of COVID-19.