It took a near-death experience to jump-start Jackie Sanchez’s education.
“That was a wake-up call for me. I was young, I had three children, I was working two jobs. I had to change my life,” says Sanchez, now a senior majoring in early childhood education. After nearly dying while giving birth in 2012, she passed her GED early in 2013 and enrolled at Truman College.
“I was in no way a traditional student. I was lucky to find resources,” says Sanchez, who joined the federal TRIO and Chicago’s One Million Degrees programs, which provided her with scholarships, mentoring and the desire to go further.
“I’ve wanted to be a teacher for as long as I can remember,” she recalls. When she toured DePaul’s campus with the TRIO program, she knew she had found her dream school. After earning her associate’s degree at Truman, she transferred to DePaul. In addition to a transfer scholarship, she found support through DePaul’s TRIO program and the advisors and faculty members at the college. Her advisor connected her to a part-time job at DePaul’s Ray Meyer Fitness and Recreation Center, a flexible position that
enabled her to plan her work schedule around her field placement.
“Just having someone in your corner is a major deal,” says Sanchez. She’s giving back by being a coach scholar through the One Million Degrees program and hopes to teach in the Chicago Public Schools system.
“I want to be that teacher who sees something in the kid that others might give up on. They aren’t bad kids. There’s just something we need to figure out. I want to bring out their potential,” she explains.
Although Sanchez is the first in her family to attend college, she won’t be the last. Her daughter will graduate from high school in May and enroll in college, and her older son is an honor-roll student like his sister. Her youngest starts first grade in the fall.
“There are no smart people or children. It’s hard work and dedication. That’s what I tell everyone. You have to be dedicated in everything you do.”