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Making Good on a Dream

James Sanchez sits in the Massry Center for Business, which he calls a second home, with the items that represent what contributed to his success: EOP, football and fraternity. (Photo by Claudio Gomez)

ALBANY, N.Y. (Dec. 7, 2016) — James Sanchez traded his football helmet for a graduation cap — or caps — and says it was the assistance provided by UAlbany that helped make his dream come true: to work in a consulting firm.

Raised in Washington Heights in northern Manhattan, Sanchez, who expects to earn a second master’s degree in business in May, did not originally plan to attend UAlbany. A football player in high school, he was recruited by Rutgers, Penn State and Marist College, schools that did not offer him financial aid.

After one of his high school mentors told him about the Equal Opportunity Program, Sanchez applied to UAlbany. He said that with his mother being the only one supporting the household, it was the smartest choice he could have made.

EOP’s 5-week summer program provided him with tutors, mentors and a support system that prepared him for his freshman year. He then reached out to the football coach and spent the rest of his summer training with the UAlbany football team.

Sanchez is admirable and a “go-getter,” said Claudio Gomez, a senior academic advisor of EOP. Gomez met Sanchez during his freshman year as his mentor and academic advisor. He said Sanchez looked for guidance on how to approach professors, and the mentoring relationship continued during graduate school and as they worked on his resume and cover letters.

Despite being a walk-on for UAlbany’s football team, Sanchez received the Athletic Football scholarship his sophomore year. But by junior year, his main focus turned to graduate school.

“Coming from a neighborhood such as Washington Heights, the main question is how can you afford college?” he said. He enrolled in the combined BA/MA program in Communications. Aided by a Graduate Tuition Opportunity Program grant, Sanchez got his first master’s degree in Organizational Communication.

His next goal was pursuing his master’s in Business. After doing research and speaking to his mentors that worked at accounting firms, he said he realized what he wanted to do was consulting.

Sanchez qualified to the Carson Carr Graduate Diversity Scholar Award and received financial assistance as well as a Graduate Assistant position, which helped pay for his living, books, and educational expenses.

During his first month pursuing his masters, he attended a career fair where he met representatives from Price Waterhouse Cooper, which led to him becoming the first UAlbany intern to work as a consultant during the summer.

As a result of his internship, he was offered a full-time position and after graduating he will become the second UAlbany consultant coming straight out of college.

“We’ve opened up this network because they’re coming back to recruit more consultants and it’s something they’ve never done before,” said Sanchez.

In the future, Sanchez hopes to help his community that he said “made him who he is today.” He dreams of opening an organization in Washington Heights for students in need of financial assistance to offer educational support to help them find funding for college.

“I was fortunate enough not to pay for college. I went through undergrad and two masters with financial help,” he said. “It’s something other people should be aware of.”

Mark Hughes, a lecturer and the director of Accounting Programs, taught Sanchez in his Accounting for Managers class last year. He noticed that Sanchez not only works hard but also likes to help others succeed.

Gomez agreed, noting that Sanchez is an inspiring student. “He always wanted to continue —even while playing football — being involved and maintaining a high GPA. I can see him pursuing other ventures.”

As an undergrad, Sanchez was involved in many extracurricular activities, including the Fuerza Latina Dance Troupe, the Association of Latino Professionals for Finance and Accounting, and the La Unidad Latina/Lambda Upsilon Lambda fraternity.

Through the EOP program, Sanchez received the Louise D’Angelis Scholarship for his undergrad work, and became the first recipient for the Kimberly A. Welsh School of Business Scholarship after being nominated by the school of business.

Now Sanchez is on target to receive his second master’s in May, in Information Systems.

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