CHCI-Walton Family Foundation Education Graduate Fellow
Hometown: Tolleson, Arizona
School: Arizona State University
Degree: M. Ed. in Elementary Education
Placement: The Office of Senator Michael Bennet
Pamela Sanchez was born in North Hollywood, California and raised in Tolleson, Arizona. She is the daughter of Mexican immigrants who taught her to embrace her Latinidad and use it to fuel her dreams. As a first-generation college graduate from The University of Arizona, she obtained a Bachelor of Arts with a dual major in Political Science and Spanish. During her college career, she was forced to acknowledge the lack of strong Latinx representation in higher education institutions and actively engaged with fellow Latinx students about their experiences. She began working with the Office of Early Academic Outreach, focusing on visiting schools in Latinx communities across Tucson, Arizona to normalize conversations about college readiness among middle and high school students. Engaging with students guided Pamela to center her efforts on empowering and supporting youth to become the next generation of leaders within their community and create generational change.
Pamela’s passion for higher education—coupled with the reality that there are systems in place that are failing to prepare students of color with the tools and confidence to succeed in post-secondary education—led her to join Teach For America, Phoenix and earn her master’s degree in education from Arizona State University. As a 2017 corps member, she returned to her former elementary school to teach second grade and experienced first-hand how the politics of public education affected students and families. With the guidance of the Obama Foundation, she founded The EDventure Project, an all-inclusive program specifically tailored for people of color that focuses on creating space for students and parents to talk about the power of education. The program brought together local organizations, higher education institutions and motivational speakers to educate, empower and energize middle school students and their families to feel confident having conversations about education. Her efforts were recognized at the 2018 Obama Summit where she was featured as a panelist discussing educators’ efforts in educating the “whole” learner, both inside and outside of the classroom.
As a CHCI Graduate Education Fellow, Pamela strives to gain a fundamental understanding of how she can continue to advocate for and support students outside of the classroom through policy work. Pamela hopes to learn how policy can support public schools in developing systems that close the educational gaps for youth of color. After the fellowship, Pamela hopes to start a non-profit to create more spaces where Latinx youth can learn how to navigate their personal, academic and professional journeys.