Hispanic Heritage Month Student Spotlight – Daniel Jose Sanchez
Daniel Jose Sanchez lives by the credo, “Better is really good.” From a young age, raised by a single mother and grandmother, he was taught the importance of using his privilege to better the lives of others. Working towards advancing underrepresented groups and improving the experiences of all is a goal that keeps him moving forward. In this conversation, he talks about human development research, the importance of exploring new opportunities and ways to de-stress as a master’s student.
Name: Daniel Jose Sanchez
Program: Master’s in Public Administration
Please tell us about your academic and professional background.
I have Bachelor’s and Master’s of Arts in Sociology from the University of Northern Colorado. I am also incredibly fortunate to have earned an additional Master’s in Public Administration from Arizona State University. During my professional career, I have been lucky to work in Community and Public Women’s Healthcare and Higher Education Administration. All while continually working as adjunct faculty in sociology! I have a straightforward belief that we should help people work towards better. For me, that means working in fields where I can utilize my passions to advance people. Specifically, I have always loved learning in the higher education setting; therefore, working towards advancing students was where I knew I would benefit.
What’s something you learned during your professional or academic journey that surprised you or changed your perspective?
I learned how partnerships are not just necessary but vital to advancing people and organizations! Further, how partnerships propel society is incredible!
I also learned that it takes a village to advance all students. Not just undergraduates, but honestly, all students! Master’s, doctorates and more! I wouldn’t be here without my village, which includes my advisor Dr. Updegraff (you’re incredible – thank you for giving me a chance!), my family (mom, you inspire me), my significant other (thanks for dealing with me), my dog (the reason I wake up in the morning – mainly because he needs a walk), the Graduate College Enrichment Fellowship (this has changed my life!), my colleagues, ASU (the best institution for higher education, ever), AMC Movies (de-stress time)! I can go on and on, but you get the point!
What types of problems do you work on and why do you think they are important?
I work on understanding the role of culture, gender, and family relationships (i.e., mothers, fathers, siblings, grandparents, etc.) in child and adolescent development, primarily focusing on low-income Latinx families. My research will draw on data from the ASU SIBS (studying sibling relationships) project, a randomized clinical trial funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, to test the effectiveness of a family-based prevention program delivered in afterschool settings to Latinx children. I want to ensure all families are heard, seen, understood, and advanced, including our most vulnerable. When one family or child has wants, needs and desires, we all are responsible for improving their lives.
How did you become involved in this type of work; what inspired you?
I became involved in this type of work by accident. Due to low enrollment, I was laid off from my role as a full-time instructor with the community colleges during the COVID-19 pandemic. To be frank, I was devastated. I love teaching. I thought I would try out being on a research team; thus, I found a Survey Interviewer Sr. Role with the ASU SIBS Project, administering our project in three of the ten schools we were testing it at. I fell in love with the entire research team and process! I saw in real-time the difference we were making and the knowledge we were gaining to make the world better! I stayed on the team as a volunteer and was encouraged to apply to the PhD program in Family and Human Development at ASU – the rest is history! I am so happy to be where I am.
How have you interacted with the Graduate College? Is there an event, initiative or funding opportunity you’re excited about?
I have interacted with the Graduate College regarding academic and professional development through the Graduate Enrichment Fellowship! This is a fellowship in which one is nominated from their graduate program and provides graduate students full funding through their first year! This is incredibly innovative, as I would not be here without this fellowship, especially as a low-income, first-generation Hispanic student; it has always been financially challenging to work towards my dream of making the world better for all. This fellowship allows me to study without financial worries.
What advice do you have for students who are interested in your field or higher education?
Explore all opportunities, then choose what is best for you, with the advice and guidance from your village. I liken this thinking to how I think about food. I've been told, "Always try something twice." Several things could occur that could lead you to not liking something. Therefore, giving a dish, or in this case, an opportunity, a couple of tries will help you understand if something is right for you.
What’re your traditions/rituals to relax and recharge during the semester?
I love reading (yes, even our 'boring' journals and academic rhetoric. I don't think they are boring, but some people may). I make it a point to read for fun for 13 minutes a day, at least 4-5 days a week. This is around an hour a week, which is not much, but it prepares me to read the more dense stuff that I focus on. I adore walking my dog! I do it most mornings and during that time, I listen to podcasts, FaceTime or call friends and family. As far as other de-stressors, I like to work out. If it's cardio, you better believe I am working out while watching a TV show on my phone!
What are some of your long-term professional goals?
I would love to take the research I am doing now (ASU SIBS Project) and continue the work towards advancing underrepresented communities while advancing family and sibling relationships! Specifically, I have this dream of advancing Native Hawaiian families through testing the effectiveness of a culturally adaptive and responsive family-based prevention program delivered in afterschool settings to Native Hawaiian children.
This research has found success in working with low-income Latinx families in Arizona. Therefore, I am interested in the Native Hawaiian population not because they reside in Hawaii but because, similar to our Native Indigenous population in Arizona, I want to make sure all families are heard and understood.