This is part five of an eight part series that profiles all students who are recipients of the 2020 McGowan Courage Award, presented by the Mansfield Rotary Club. One story will be released each day for the next eight days.
Kylie Ramsey didn’t have a normal childhood.
Rather than spending time outside playing with friends or getting up in the morning on the weekend to watch cartoons, she spent most of her days wondering how her family would acquire their meals for the day.
Ramsey’s parents had her while they were still in high school, and unfortunately they were unable to provide her—along with her younger siblings who were born later on—with a healthy, structured lifestyle.
“She (Ramsey) took on a lot more responsibilities that most young kids would even in the third and fourth grade,” said Brenda Fields, grandmother of Ramsey.
Even though she did not reach a semblance of true normalcy until high school, Ramsey’s grateful to have gotten a chance to experience it at all.
For her hard work and dedication, Mansfield Senior High presented her with the 2020 McGowan Courage Award.
“I’ve always felt like I’ve had to excel in everything that I’ve done and I had to be the best,” Ramsey said. “I still feel that way sometimes, but I think I’m getting better at not expecting so much out of myself.”
With the stress of having three children to look after, Ramsey’s parents turned to drugs as a source of comfort. Eventually they became addicted and spent all of their money on drugs.
Ramsey and her siblings grew up not understanding what a typical kids life should be like. They missed school often, and the times Ramsey did manage to make it to school was of her own volition.
“I think it made me a better student because I would wake up and get myself ready in the morning, and I would take it upon myself to make sure I had my homework done and make sure that I was ready for school and prepared for whatever they (teachers) would throw at me,” Ramsey said.
Ramsey also took on the responsibility of taking care of her siblings, getting them food and comforting them when they worried their mom and dad would never come home.
After her family got evicted from their house, Ramsey and her siblings went to live with their grandparents, who were granted sole custody. At first, it was an adjustment for them all, having to unlearn the “normalcy” of living with their parents and begin to understand what life should really be like for a kid.
“There (were) a lot of things that they didn’t think there was anything wrong with until they came here, and then they realized that the way they were living was not the way most people live,” Fields said.
Ramsey recalled holding some resentment toward her grandparents at first for “taking” her and her siblings away from her parents and blaming herself for not doing enough for her them. She carried that weight on her shoulders for her freshman and sophomore years of high school at Mansfield Senior High.
Despite being forced to grow up so quickly, Ramsey holds no ill-will toward her parents and looks at the good that’s come out of her family’s situation, such as forming an impenetrable bond she and her younger siblings now share, the unconditional love she receives from her grandparents and learning to care for herself and others.
“It was a surprise to me when Kylie told me about her experience,” wrote Kayla Loughry, school counselor at Mansfield Senior High. “Her courage shows through her positive attitude, respectful behavior, attendance at school, excellent grades and her kind, warm presence.”
Today, Ramsey’s proud of her many accomplishments such as remaining at the top of her senior class (ranking number six overall), being president of Life Club and participating in Gamers Club and Astronomy Club. She also played the saxophone in the high school band.
As for where her parents are now, Ramsey said with pride that they are living much better lives compared to before, though they are now separated. Ramsey’s mother recently came out of rehab, got a job and actively communicates with her. As for her father, Ramsey does not speak to him often, but she’s aware of his well-being and still loves him.
Ramsey will further her education by attending Ashland University in the fall and major in education.
“All of the support from everyone in my life has given me courage to know that I can do what I set my mind to,” Ramsey said.
The 2020 McGowan Courage Awards are sponsored by: OhioHealth (premier sponsor), Mechanics Bank (gold sponsor), OSU Mansfield (silver sponsor), Richland Bank, North Central State College, The Mansfield Art Center and The Renaissance Theatre.