Luis Sanchez grew up in the Rogue Valley and graduated from South Medford HS in 2009, working part time at Rogue Credit Union (RCU) along the way. His SOU journey began right after graduation but he didn’t finish in four or five years as he had planned. However, he persevered and stayed with it for the better part of a decade to earn his degree, proudly becoming the third in his family to earn college degrees, all from SOU. Growing up, his father Luis, Sr. ‘09, worked graveyard shifts and went to SOU in the mornings, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice in 2009. That same year, his sister Bea Sanchez Goldman ’09 graduated from SOU with a bachelor’s in psychology.
“When you’re young, there is sometimes a certain mentality about formal education and not really getting how important it is. I worked at RCU for 10 years and bounced around between full and part-time attendance at SOU,” said Luis. Though he didn’t find the right academic program right away, his persistence and hard work, helped him to seamlessly step into SOU’s Innovation and Leadership (INL) bachelor’s program. The INL program is intentionally flexible, catering to non-traditional and part time students who average between 35-55 years of age. Leaders in the program model great guidance and wisdom and go out of their way to help focus upon what is applicable in the real world, rather than theory. Program director Moneeka Settles is one such leader. “Moneeka has a great ability to connect with every student in the program. She just pours herself into the program and is devoted to her students,” he said.
Luis graduated summer of 2020 with his bachelor’s in INL. He is a testament to a program that works closely with students while making the education pertinent to them, recognizing that many tend to appreciate education and shared experiences in life with the wisdom of age. “INL courses are so much more applicable then normal classes. The teachers and staff realize that the students are working full time while raising families. They give us the tools to find out who we are and what we value,” he said. “The INL cohorts share a close-knit philosophy and the camaraderie really helps all of us succeed. The shared experiences and emotions are powerful and real. I already miss the cohort but will always cherish them and how we helped each other.”
Luis now works for ACCESS in Jackson County as their Communications Supervisor, overseeing Marketing and IT. He is also the chair of their Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Program. ACCESS provides food, warmth, shelter and other essential services to Jackson County’s low-income children, families, seniors, veterans and people with disabilities. Luis is proud of the work they do helping those less fortunate in the Rogue Valley. After the recent Almeda and Obenchain fires destroyed thousands of homes, ACCESS has shifted into high gear to help deflect as much pain as possible by operating food pantries and helping people to find temporary housing. They also continue to raise funds to help feed victims of the fires, leveraging four meals per dollar raised via partnerships with the Oregon Food Bank and Sherm’s Thunderbird grocery stores. While he works hard for the region’s needy, he is excited that he has begun SOU’s online MBA program. “I didn’t take the traditional route for my college education but I’m certainly thankful that SOU is such an important part of the region’s educational, social and economic fabric. They were flexible with me and many other students in my cohort, who otherwise would not be able to pursue an education because of age and time period in life,” he added. And something special to add: Luis’ fiancé, Linda Escot Miranda ‘20, also graduated with her biology degree in 2020. What a Rogue Valley family legacy!
Learn more: ACCESS