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First-generation student overcomes challenges in pursuit of Blinn College degree

Sophomore Mario Sanchez uses personal experiences to help others find success

October 17, 2017

When Blinn College sophomore Mario Sanchez moved to Texas from Mexico at the age of 14, he was thrust into a foreign school system without the ability to speak English.

He initially struggled in the classroom, but quickly discovered that hard work and determination were the recipes for success. In Fall 2015, Sanchez brought his talents to the Blinn-Bryan Campus, becoming the first member of his family to attend college.

“I was advised by family and friends to start at Blinn because it would better prepare me for the transition to a university,” he said. “Blinn courses are challenging, and have been the push I need to be ready for the next level.”

While Sanchez has enjoyed success at Blinn, the engineering major did not always feel like he belonged. During a serendipitous meeting with Blinn Academic Advisor Edith Pequeno, Sanchez was introduced to First-Generation, a student organization at Blinn-Bryan that supports first-generation students as they adjust to collegiate life. There, he found the support system he needed to persevere.

“First-Generation helped me improve all aspects of my life,” Sanchez said. “Members of the organization shared their experiences and gave advice on how to overcome my obstacles and fears. I benefited from the experience so much that I wanted to put myself in a position to help others too.”

Sanchez currently serves as vice president for the organization – a position he has held for three semesters. The group meets monthly to help students adjust to college life, exchanging information regarding study habits, scholarships, and the university transfer process.

“I have been fortunate to watch Mario grow into a confident leader among his peers,” Pequeno said. “He always is willing to help others in whatever way he can, and I am thankful to have the opportunity to work with students like Mario every day.”

Sanchez is pursuing an Associate of Science Degree in engineering with hopes of transferring to Texas A&M University in the Spring. Blinn’s 60-credit hour Associate of Science Degree in engineering prepares students to pursue any type of engineering career, including specialties such as aerospace, biomedical, civil, electrical, mechanical, petroleum, and more. Blinn engineering students gain project-based experience while exploring engineering theory and building a strong background in chemistry, mathematics, and physics. Students who complete their associate degree are prepared to transfer to the state’s leading four-year engineering programs to continue their studies.

Sanchez plans to put his engineering degree to use by designing large-scale roads and bridges to ensure safe and effective transportation for cities, towns, and communities.

“I always have wanted to positively impact people’s lives – whether they realize it or not,” he said. “Roads and bridges are very important to society, and I want to make it easier and safer for people to travel.”

In the meantime, the sophomore is using his final semester at Blinn to help other first-generation students find success.

“When I see my classmates struggling, I try to find a way assist them because I understand what they are going through,” Sanchez said. “Many people have supported my journey through Blinn, and I want to return the favor.”

Registration for the Winter Minimester and Spring 2018 semester is open to all students Monday, Oct. 23. For more information, visit www.blinn.edu.