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Pando Initiative advocate finds creative ways to help students at North High

Sandra SanchezFor Sandra Sanchez, the Pando Initiative’s student support advocate who serves North High School, her favorite part of the job is helping students be successful in school and life.

“My ultimate goal is to see these students graduate,” Sanchez said. “I want to be someone that they know is pushing for their success.”

At North High, Sanchez worked with more than 500 students last year. The Pando Initiative helps remove obstacles that keep students from succeeding in school by placing advocates like Sanchez in the school as a resource for students and staff.

In her time at North High, Sanchez has created several ways to help students including:

  • A bi-monthly lunch group to help students feel connected
  • The RedHawk boutique, a thrift shop that provides new and used clothing for students including prom wear
  • A community refrigerator and pantry students and families can access
  • The Baby Hawks support group for students who are new parents

Sanchez grew up in Liberal and got her associate’s degree in international business at Seward County Community College.

She began working with middle school students in Manhattan and after seeing how she connected with them, a mentor encouraged her to consider becoming a social worker.

Sanchez went back to school and got a degree in social work from Wichita State University. She did her practicum at North High and became the Pando student support advocate at the school four years ago.

She wasn’t sure that she would enjoy working with high school students, but found that she loved the connections she was able to make with students.

When asked what the favorite part of her job is, Sanchez says she loves seeing students who have struggled celebrating on graduation day and when they are accepted to college.

Sanchez’s favorite part of the job is watching students at graduation.

“Seeing students who have struggled getting to wear their cap and gown and seeing their excitement when they are accepted to college is something that really gets to me,” Sanchez said. “That makes everything I do worthwhile.”