HOPE – The gist of Jose Sanchez’s personal story is one of a dream; the reality in the details is that it took an education to get there.
Sanchez is a highly successful civil and criminal litigation attorney from Longview, Texas; but, he came to America in 1981 at age five as an “illegal.” His father crossed the Mexican-American border to find work and was away from his family in Mexico City for months at a time; until, Sanchez’s mother made a decision and the entire family made the border crossing.
He told his story to students at the Hope Academy of Public Service here Friday with a point in mind.
“There is a huge connection; the more education you have, the more money you make,” Sanchez said. “You want a nice house on the lake; you want an expensive car; you want one of the biggest houses in town. All you have to do is stay in school.”
Sanchez grew up in Longview only to realize that he had only one way to succeed.
“My parents never had a formal education,” he said. “My parents encouraged me; even though they couldn’t read or write, they encouraged me.”
Consequently, Sanchez said he considered himself something of a “nerd” in school because he grew up encouraged about learning and liked school. He also liked athletics, but realized he could not succeed in professional sports, but he could succeed in the sports industry with an education.
“I had a dream and I wrote it down,” Sanchez said. “But, I couldn’t get my dream without going to college.”
He graduated as salutatorian of his high school class and was given a scholarship to Kilgore College, where he obtained an associate’s degree; then, Sanchez transferred to Texas A&M University in Bryan/College Station under an academic scholarship. There he took a bachelor’s degree in 1998, and attended Texas Tech University School of Law in Lubbock, Texas, where he obtained his Juris Doctor in 2001.
After establishing himself in legal practice in Longview and Henderson, Texas, Sanchez later attended Harvard University where he obtained a Master of Public Administration degree. He was the only Hispanic in a class of 78 students.
That educational basis has allowed him to undertake legal practice of his choosing, and travel the world he said.
“I felt I had an obligation to represent my people,” Sanchez said. “Life in America is really good compared to many other places; you have opportunities other people do not have.”
His education has also made him more aware of life, he said. Sanchez was in Mexico on business in September when an 8.2 earthquake struck. He said he began to think about his life as his hotel room swayed during the temblor.
“I’m brushing my teeth and the room starts moving,” Sanchez said. “I’m thinking I’m going to die; but, that made me want to do more. You can’t just be satisfied.”