For Estefani Sanchez, leaving Trevecca is bittersweet. The senior sociology major will receive her diploma on Saturday, but she’ll leave campus with more than a degree.
At Trevecca, Sanchez found professors who cared, a community that shaped her, and, most of all, a sense of belonging.
“I always felt like my teachers and my academic adviser really cared about whether or not I got a good grade or how I could improve,” she said. “That made me feel comfortable because I’d never had that experience before. It made me feel a sense of belonging.”
Sanchez, who will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in sociology this weekend, was born in Guatemala. In 2010, when Sanchez was 15, she and her family moved to Nashville where most of her mother’s family lived. She attended one year of high school at Cane Ridge High School and finished her high school career at Antioch High School.
“It was kind of weird because I was never a freshman,” Sanchez said, describing how officials assessed her English comprehension, age and other factors when deciding her grade level classification when she moved to the United States. “I thought that was good because I would graduate at a normal age.”
Sanchez’ road to Trevecca had a few twists. She visited the University while in high school but spent a few years at another local university before transferring to Trevecca in 2016. She found professors who were willing to go the extra mile with her, mentoring as well as teaching.
“You know whenever you cry with someone?” Sanchez said, describing her relationships with her professors. “Dr. [Steve] Hoskins was one of those teachers. Dr. [Laurie] Woods, for sure, she has been with me throughout since I came here.”
Woods also served as Sanchez’ adviser throughout the sociology major’s Trevecca career. Earlier this semester, she celebrated with her student as Sanchez took the oath of citizenship.
“She began the long process of applying for citizenship, which included dozens of pages of paperwork, so much documentation that most of us would be deterred, a long trip to Memphis, and exam, and, finally, the ceremony in March,” Woods said. “Estefani did all of this while still working more than 30 hours a week and maintaining a stellar grade point average.”
As her undergraduate career draws to a close, Sanchez is ready to begin the next chapter of her life. She’s currently in the long process of applying for a job with a federal agency and planning to go to law school. She’s applying to Belmont University, Vanderbilt and the Nashville School of Law and hopes to start next fall.
Woods sees this as an example of Sanchez’ servant heart.
“Whether it was working full-time to support her mother while going to Trevecca full-time or dreaming of becoming an immigration attorney, she serves others every day,” Woods said of her student. “I see a full life of service to others in many different ways.”
Sanchez says she feels well prepared for post-grad life, something she credits to her academic experience at Trevecca.
“More than anything, in my research papers, I’ve focused on the difference of people coming from minority ethnic groups and how it affects social class and their mindset toward their jobs,” she said. “I think that has really opened my mind to see very different points of view, not just my own, and to know that not everyone thinks the way I do.”
While Sanchez is preparing for her future, she’s certain there will be a few things she’ll miss once she leaves the hallowed halls and hills of Trevecca.
“I’ll miss coming to school the most,” she said, “just being in class with my teachers. They encouraged me spiritually, to never forget who God is—that regardless of where you are, He’s always going to be there. So that encouragement that my teachers gave me in every single class is what I think I’m going to miss the most.”