How long have you lived with eczema?
I’ve lived with eczema for as long as I can remember. I distinctly remember coping with flare-ups at different points throughout my childhood. My struggle with eczema has led me to the NEA Ambassador community, which I’m grateful to have found. Very recently, I started taking Dupixent and I’m excited to experience the improvement of my eczema that so many others have found.
What is the quality you like most in yourself?
The quality I admire most in myself is my constant drive to learn and improve. Whether it’s one of my hobbies, such as playing guitar or powerlifting, or in my professional career, I love to see progression and growth in myself. I find it satisfying and motivating to look back and see how far I’ve come, and to look forward to see how much I have left to accomplish.
Who is your favorite musician?
If I had to pick one favorite artist, it would have to be Drake. For better or worse, I’ve been a loyal Drake fan since I first discovered his music in 2009. Otherwise my musical preferences are scattered. As a guitarist, I hold Jimi Hendrix and Santana in the highest regards. For when I’m working out, I like Travis Scott and Young Thug. For when I feel especially sad, I find solace in Frank Ocean and Beach House, and for when I feel like dancing it’s Disclosure and Kaytranada.
Which living person do you most admire?
I admire my parents the most. My mother and father immigrated to the U.S. from the Philippines in their twenties, not knowing anyone, with little to no money, and speaking very little English. With hard work and faith, they raised me and my sister and put us in a position to succeed. To this day, I’m grateful for their guidance and support, and I aspire to do the same for my children in the future.
What was the last great TV show you watched?
The last great TV show I watched was “Avatar: The Last Airbender.” Having never watched it when I was younger, I wanted to see what the hype was about over a children’s show. I was worried I wouldn’t enjoy it as an adult, but I was stunned: the show is a masterpiece.
What is your favorite indulgence that makes you flare (but you do it anyway)?
Hot showers. Although hot water dries my skin out and tends to aggravate my eczema spots, I cannot say no to a piping hot shower after a long day (especially in the winter!).
Choose one: A) ability to fly; or B) powers of invisibility.
I would definitely choose the ability to fly. No more traffic!
What do you consider the most common misconception about eczema?
I think it’s difficult for people to understand how living with eczema can vary greatly from person to person. Everyone’s experience with eczema is unique and fluctuating. Eczema can simply be a mild annoyance to some; to others, it can be a debilitating condition that significantly reduces quality of life. The severity of one’s eczema can wax and wane over time. Additionally, not only are there many different types of eczema, but there are also many different ways to manage and treat this condition. What works for one person’s eczema might not work for someone else’s.
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
The greatest love of my life is my guitar. I’ve been in love since my mother bought me my first guitar in elementary school. It’s therapeutic to play for myself and for others. Although I’ve been playing for over 10 years, I still consider myself a beginner. It truly takes a lifetime to master the instrument, and I am drawn to the neverending room for improvement.
When and where are you happiest?
I’m at my happiest whenever I can spend time with friends and family. They truly are the most important part of my support system. With our busy lives and hectic schedules, it can be difficult to make the time to see each other, but when we do I’m at my happiest.
Which talent would you most like to have?
I wish I could dunk a basketball. As an NBA fan since childhood, I grew up idolizing Kobe Bryant and Vince Carter. I’ve dreamt about posterizing defenders just like them. But I think those dreams are (quite literally) out of reach.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
My greatest achievement (so far) is having graduated in 2019 from Rutgers University with a bachelor’s degree in Biology. My classes were difficult and there were times when I felt like giving up, but thankfully I was able to push through and earn that sweet, sweet degree. My goal now is to gain admission to medical school in hopes of becoming a physician.
Who are your eczema heroes?
My eczema heroes are my older sister, my girlfriend and all my friends who live with eczema. Despite their personal struggles with the condition, they continue to live with purpose and fulfillment. They inspire me to be confident and to embrace my skin, even when I don’t want to or feel like I can’t.
If you could learn to speak another language, which language would you pick to learn?
If I could learn to speak another language, it would be Ilokano, a language native to the Ilocos Norte region of the Philippines, where my parents are from. Growing up in the U.S, I never learned the language from my parents. It’s not too late!
What’s the worst thing about having eczema?
The worst thing about having eczema is how painful it can be, mentally and physically, to endure the signs and symptoms of a bad flare-up. The itching and flaking can, at times, feel unbearable and inescapable. There are countless instances where I’ve wanted to hide myself from the world during a flare-up. Overcoming these feelings and regaining my self-confidence has been a crucial part of my battle against eczema.
What’s the best thing about having eczema?
The best thing about having eczema is the personal growth I’ve experienced, and the opportunity to be able to share my growth with others. After hating my skin for so long, I’ve learned to practice self-care and self-love. From this, I feel as if I have a deeper connection with others who have also had to struggle with eczema. Being a part of the broader eczema community and knowing I’m not alone in my struggle is truly empowering.
You’re hosting a dinner party and you can invite any three people you want, living or dead: who do you invite and why?
If I could invite anyone to my dinner party, I would invite Pop Smoke, Aaliyah and Mac Miller. Their careers were cut way too short by their deaths. They had so much music left.
Justin Oneil-Ramos is a NEA Ambassador. Learn more and join NEA Ambassadors today.
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