UTSA Honors College student Michael Roque Sanchez has been named a finalist to interview for the Truman Scholarship, the premier undergraduate scholarship for students pursuing careers in public service. The economics major and political science minor hopes to become the third UTSA student to earn the prestigious national award.
In 2021, the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation selected 193 finalists nationwide to interview. This included 10 students interviewing from the Texas region. The 2021 competition received 845 applications from 328 institutions, which was a record number of applicants.
Sanchez is an aspiring politician who has already demonstrated a commitment to serving the San Antonio community, which includes internships with District 4 Councilman Rey Saldaña, the City of San Antonio, and serving as the student appointee to the City of San Antonio Higher Education Advisory Board.
“I am certain that this work ethic and ability to inspire will take him far as a leader in the public sector.”
In his successful application, Sanchez discussed how his upbringing led to his academic interests in economics and specifically an interest in financial literacy. He credits his father, who opened a credit card for him and taught him about how credit works. His father demonstrated how taking personal responsibility can overcome hardship.
Sanchez plans to take these life lessons and pursue a master’s degree in public policy, so that he can serve as a future local politician. He hopes to eventually work for the Texas Education Agency, where he can forward his mission to create a curriculum for high schools in which financial literacy courses better teach students how their money works and how the economy can work for them.
Sanchez believes that dedicating oneself to “community improves the lives of people. Integral to this process is quality education, which can improve the future of individuals fortunate enough to receive it.”
His success was also aided by two prominent UTSA community programs. In spring 2020, he participated in the UTSA Citymester Program, a student engagement initiative by the Honors College. As part of the Citymester program, he interned for the City of San Antonio’s Economic Development Department and International Office. There, he demonstrated leadership at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, communicating with San Antonio’s “sister cities” and working closely with foreign partners to obtain new COVID-19 updates in Mexico, Spain, and Germany.
“He made a lasting impression on our office, leaving us with a sense of his strong work ethic and indefatigable aspirations for a better life for both himself and his community,” said senior economic development specialist Daniel Khalil on Sanchez’s work for the city. “This impression inspired our team and his fellow interns in our work to aid the city’s economy in a time of crisis. I am certain that this work ethic and ability to inspire will take him far as a leader in the public sector.”
Sanchez also participates as a foster youth advocate at UTSA. He dedicates his work to inform foster students of available scholarships, grants and aid. Through the UTSA Fostering Education Success Center, he worked on a project, “Build Your Kitchen,” which will provide foster students with free pots, pans, and other kitchen essentials.
All of Sanchez’s work is in response to the goodwill he received from others. In elementary school, while his family was experiencing hardship, school administrators donated a bike to him. Sanchez returns this act of kindness to his school, donating a bike to one student each year. He maintains modesty, stating, “I believe kindness does not require recognition; however, I decide to act because I hope others adopt a similar philosophy or find their own unique way of giving back to their community.”
Preparation for the Truman Scholarship is no small feat. Sanchez has worked over the past month with the Office of Nationally Competitive Awards and UTSA faculty to prepare for his interview. Roger Enriquez, associate professor of criminal justice in the College for Health, Community and Policy and director of the UTSA Policy Studies Center, worked with Sanchez on questions related to his interests in housing. Sofia Bahena, assistant professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, helped relate to Sanchez how relevant issues in education might impact his financial literacy curriculum plans. Honors academic counselor and lecturer Brent Floyd assisted in mock interviews, lending his background in political science and sociology to pose pertinent questions from current events that might appear in Sanchez’s interview.
If Sanchez is awarded the Truman Scholarship, he will receive a $30,000 award and priority admission at select graduate programs in addition to the leadership training and special internship opportunities within the federal government.
UTSA has had two previous Truman scholarship winners: Gretchen Harting in 2002 and Sanah Jivani in 2018. The 2021 class of Truman scholars will be announced on April 14. The Truman Scholarship is awarded to third-year students, whether they are juniors, third-year seniors, or transfer students.