One first-generation Collin College student’s goal of landing a spot at one of the top hospitality programs in the nation had an interesting recipe: sixty-two credit hours, five scholarships, four student organizations and one dream.
Humberto Sanchez will attend the University of Houston’s Hilton College in the fall as part of its honors program, a designation only ten students receive out of the 1,400 in the program. But none of his accomplishments came easily, with Sanchez completing sixty-two credit hours in one year while working and being involved in Collin College student organizations.
“Any student can achieve any goal as long as they are willing to put the work into it. I completed my core curriculum in one year,” Sanchez said. “Money shouldn’t be an issue for students who continue their education. It takes personality, character, involvement and responsibility to be a true scholar.”
After graduating from Allen High School, Sanchez started his academic career at Collin College last fall, when he was took 15 credit hours and was accepted into the college’s Student Leadership Academy. He became involved with the college’s mentoring program, Rotary International Club, League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and even took the time to start the Volleyball Club. Once he finished his first semester, Sanchez applied to the University of Houston.
“It’s really competitive to get in. When I finished the semester, I was at Collin at 7 a.m. the next day waiting for my transcripts so I could send them in,” Sanchez said. “After a few weeks, I found out I was admitted and I decided to go for something more challenging like the honors program.”
Coordinator of university partnerships Kandi Hoye-Nixon served as Humberto’s mentor and encouraged him to apply to the program.
“Humberto is very passionate about his education and informing others,” Hoye-Nixon said. “He was always open to suggestions, and he had a plan. But he wasn’t shy about asking for advice, too.”
While at Collin, he received the Emerging Scholar and Outstanding Mentee award from the school. He also received a scholarship from LULAC. During his time at Collin, Sanchez frequently worked 30 hours a week in addition to taking intense classes.
“My planner was my best friend. It was completely full of sticky notes,” Sanchez said.
In particular, science-related courses and statistics proved to be a challenge.
“I lived at the math lab. All of the tutors knew my name,” Sanchez said. “I would also go to the writing center to get a little extra help. I moved here from Guadalajara, Mexico three years ago and I didn’t know any English so I had to work harder to strengthen my writing.”
In addition to his scholarships from Collin College, Sanchez applied for the Terry Foundation Scholarship, which would cover the cost of his entire tuition at the University of Houston, which can cost around $22,000 a year. Sanchez was required to attend an interview to be considered eligible.
“It six people staring at me at a table,” Sanchez said. “I used all my knowledge from the past months at Collin and my skills from student leadership to prepare for the interview. I told them exactly who I was and how any student can achieve a goal.”
He was sitting in his Collin College government class when he got the email from the Terry Foundation that could determine his future.
“I never pull out my electronic devices in class, but I pulled my iPad and checked constantly that day,” Sanchez said. “While the professor was talking I saw that I got an email and started smiling. When I found out I received the scholarship, that made my life that day. I couldn’t stop smiling. Everybody from class started staring at me. My professor asked my what was going on. When I told him, he said ‘I can see your hard work is paying off.’”
Not only did he receive the Terry Foundation Scholarship, but Sanchez also received the Texas Hotel Association Award. This award also required an in-person interview, but every member of the board was so impressed with Sanchez’s credentials, experience and letters of recommendation that the interview was waived.
Currently, Sanchez is finishing up his Summer II courses at Collin College before he transfers to the University of Houston. Eventually, he hopes to travel the world representing the business side of resorts. He credits passion and dedication for achieving his dreams.
“Hard work and determination pay off in the end,” Sanchez said. “Collin College prepared me for many things and with my determination and guidance from faculty and staff I achieved my goals and I am going to a top university program.”