Born and raised in Wenatchee, Washington, Israel Sixto Sanchez recalls that his parents were always supportive of his academic endeavors. He says his mother, in particular, sought out to learn something new every day, and modeled what it looked like to be a lifelong learner.
When he entered public school at the age of 13, he spoke mostly Spanish and mastered the English language with the assistance of a few faculty members who were willing to help. “I realized that if I didn’t bring that extra energy or that extra foot forward, I wasn’t going to have the same amount of opportunities that other people were going to have,” he says.
With their encouragement, and motivated by the long-term desire to support both himself and his parents financially in their retirement, he persisted in his education. His resilience and drive have paid off, and his efforts were recognized this past year, as he was named a 2019 HSF Male Scholar of the Year Semi-Finalist.
Israel is currently a senior at the University of Washington, where, as a Gates Millennium Scholar, he is majoring in Informatics, with a focus in Human Computer Interaction and Design. After graduating, he plans to work in this industry in a creative role, focusing on user experience or user interface design.
On campus, he is a leader in the Adobe Education Exchange, and serves as Vice President of Communications for his campus chapter of the Association of Latino Professionals For America (ALPFA). He says that ALPFA is his “home away from home,” surrounding him with students of similar backgrounds and upbringings during his college experience. He is also a member of the business fraternity, Delta Sigma Pi, and social fraternity, Psi Upsilon.
In 2018, he was named ALPFA’s Seattle Student of the Year and also won first place in the Out4Undergrad Student Marketing Challenge.
In March, Israel was one of 100 HSF Scholars to attend the inaugural HSF Entrepreneurship Summit, an annual conference that introduces HSF Scholars to the value and importance of developing an entrepreneurial mindset. During the conference, Scholars are empowered with knowledge and experiences that enable them to be entrepreneurial in any setting or career they pursue.
He has also attended HSF’s Media and Entertainment Summit, another annual conference that exposes interested HSF Scholars to career opportunities in media and entertainment-related fields. He calls the HSF network a place where “extremely talented” Latino students can open up and share their experiences and stories with one another, and create long-lasting friendships.
For students who are considering college as their path, Israel advises them to invest in themselves as early as possible by exploring the avenues of study that might interest them. “Trust your gut,” he says. “You know what it is you love and have an interest in pursuing. Don't ever feel pressured by your peers to work in a field that's popular—do what makes you happy and brings balance to your work and life environment.”