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Creating College Success

July 18, 2023 - 1 minute read

headshot of Erika Sanchez

ERIKA SANCHEZ became the first person in her family to attend college. Today, she is leading one of Concordia’s Hispanic Serving initiatives to help undergraduates thrive in a college environment.

Sanchez comes to Concordia as director of the Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) program to help administer the first and largest federal grant ($3 million) the university has ever received.

The five-year grant’s purpose is to provide new and better student services to increase success for all students, Hispanic students in particular. In preparation for this role, Sanchez served as director of Hispanic Services at Biola, and before that at a nonprofit in Santa Ana where she helped create its college success program.

“I fell in love with learning and felt really strongly to pursue education and help others pursue education as well,” she says.

She earned a bachelor’s degree and then a master’s degree in transformational urban leadership. In the Philippines with a student cohort, she conducted research for a year and a half — then stayed another three years to work in a learning center. There, she started a scholarship program for underprivileged students.

“That was my start of doing college access work and helping first-generation students,” she says. “I understand the barriers in place for students to pursue education.”

At Concordia, Sanchez will lead efforts to help Hispanic students and others transition well to a college environment. The HSI grant funds the hiring of a tutoring coordinator, a career coach to connect students with employment and internship opportunities, and an academic advisor for transfer students.

“We tend to enroll more Hispanic transfer students, and they tend to be older and commuters,” says Sanchez. “That group doesn’t connect right way to campus events and culture. We’re trying to increase a sense of belonging for that group. We are going to help them succeed.”


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