First-gen student takes part in global leadership program

  • Maribel Sanchez is a first-generation student who is always looking for new ways to learn and challenge herself.  
  • With the help of Student Support Services, she has been able to study abroad with a global leadership program and immerse herself in other cultures.
  • Maribel is also an active member of several organizations on campus. These include Lambda Pi Upsilon, Student Ambassador Society and Student Government Society. 

Junior business management major Maribel Sanchez is taking full advantage of the opportunities provided by Wichita State. She is a first-generation student, Gore Scholar, studied abroad in the Netherlands this past summer and was invited to speak at a national conference.

Maribel showed her drive and determination before becoming a WSU student. In high school, she competed in WSU’s Distinguished Scholarship Invitational, where she was one of two students to receive a Harry Gore Memorial Scholarship. The purpose of the scholarship is to identify students with leadership potential and allow them to be financially free so they can become leaders on campus.

“It has worked,” she said. “I have been able to do anything and everything that I’ve wanted to do.”

Thanks to TRIO Student Support Services, a federally funded program that offers services for first-generation students, students from low-income families and students with disabilities, Maribel has been exposed to exciting new opportunities. She lives spontaneously and signs up for any valuable experience that comes her way.

Kaye Monk-Morgan, assistant vice president for Academic Affairs at WSU, helped set up 2019’s Keith Sherin Global Leaders Program in The Hague, Netherlands and advocated for a WSU student to attend. When Maribel learned about the program, she eagerly applied and was one of 20 TRIO students from the U.S. to get accepted.

“I never would have imagined that traveling to another country would mess with my brain the way that it did, whether it was in class, hanging out with friends and having discussions or going to the supermarket and figuring out how to buy food items in a different language,” she said. “It taught me so many different things.”

The Keith Sherin Global Leaders Program is sponsored by the Council for Opportunity in Education and gives first-generation TRIO students the opportunity to spend three weeks in another country, learning alongside students from around the world.

“I literally enjoyed every second. I didn’t know what I was signing up for until I was actually there, but it was perfect,” she said. “It was more than I would have imagined I would have gotten from a class abroad.”

I literally enjoyed every second. I didn’t know what I was signing up for until I was actually there, but it was perfect. It was more than I would have imagined I would have gotten from a class abroad.
Maribel Sanchez, junior

Maribel took three classes, sustainable development goals, local impact of migration and diversity and inclusion in Dutch society, that were designed to challenge students to analyze worldwide problems and think like leaders.

“I loved the whole process,” she said. “We get caught up with what is going on with ourselves, our people, our community, and that’s a reflection of what is going on everywhere. It’s a problem that we have systemically as a whole, as humans, but it’s not impossible to get around.”

After returning from the Netherlands, Maribel received an invitation to present at the Council for Opportunity in Education’s 38th Annual Conference in Chicago. She shared her experience in the Netherlands with hundreds of professionals, encouraging them to tell their students about the unique and valuable program.

“I think when you’re in tune with yourself, your values and your identity, you’re able to relate and connect with people from different places with different identities,” she said.

All of Maribel’s experience at WSU, including being a resident assistant, giving tours as a Shocker Navigator and working for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, has helped her identify what she wants to do when she graduates.

“Last year I confirmed, after being an RA and working in admissions, with my supervisor’s help, that I wanted to work in higher education,” she said. “I realized that I loved coming to school and I loved being involved and I loved this impactful relationship I had with people.”

While still at WSU, Maribel wants to continue influencing those around her to take chances and advocate for themselves. She is currently involved in a multicultural sorority, Lambda Pi Upsilon, Student Ambassador Society and Student Government Association.

“For the rest of my time here I want to put in more change and make more impact in the spaces that I’m in, and I purposely picked those because they serve communities of people that I’m passionate about,” she said.

With an application already submitted for a program next summer, Maribel is still focused on taking advantage of opportunities, but she also knows that she can use her position to help others.

“I want other people to do this, too, so what I do now is more intentional,” she said. “I need to start opening these doors for other people.”