From Academic Probation to the Ivy League, Henry Sanchez Overcomes Odds
Academic probation could have been the end of the road for Henry Sanchez. Back in the spring of 2017, Henry dropped from out of a local community college after struggling to make his grades. School was a burden to Henry, and he was not motivated to grind through his course work. He only went to college to appease his parents and meet the status quo. However, Henry found a passion when he restarted school at Santa Ana College (SAC) that would not only guide him to earn a bachelor's degree, but also get accepted to the University of Cornell for a master's program.
In the fall of 2017, Henry entered SAC to pursue a business degree. He defaulted to business, thinking it was a safe route to secure a job after graduating, but he knew he was not sure what he wanted from school or which career he wanted to pursue. But through his prior work experience in retail, he loved fashion and wanted to learn how clothes were made. He heard from friends about Santa Ana College's strong Fashion Design and Merchandising program and decided to take one class in the program. He enjoyed the course so much, he decided to switch his major to Fashion Design. He fell in love with the fashion design process. He loved that he could think of an idea and utilize his hands to bring these ideas to life through clothes.
“I was worried about going into fashion because of the stigma and perception my family had," said Sanchez. “They didn't know what my future with a fashion degree was going to look like. But I committed to it because I felt like there was nothing to lose."
Henry thrived at SAC! While he was at SAC, he worked in jobs that were relevant to his industry, including alteration and design. He grew more comfortable with specialized software like Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, while venturing into 3D imaging as well. SAC gave Henry opportunities to display his work to a wider audience as he had a chance to present a showcase of his garments at the Bower Museum, in Santa Ana, California.
“I loved SAC a lot," said Sanchez. “The school had a great community feel. I received helpful hands from the professors due to their passion and intimate class size. What's awesome was that all my close friends have all transferred and found career jobs."
In 2019, Henry transferred to Cal Poly Pomona (CPP) to earn his bachelor's degree in Apparel Production with a minor in International Business. As he neared the completion of his degree, he knew he was not going to be satisfied completing his academic journey at this point. Ever since he started his journey in fashion at SAC, earning a master's degree always sat in his mind. He collaborated with the faculty members at CPP and did some research in the graduate programs that specialized in fashion and merchandising. With a confident, yet “nothing to lose" mindset, Henry submitted an application to Cornell's Apparel Design program with an emphasis in 3D Software and Production. He made 20 pieces of clothing, wrote essays, researched the school and program, and went in for an interview. Out of the 100 applicants for the program, Cornell was only going to accept 13. Henry got in!
“I jumped out of bed at 8:30 a.m. and was really excited," Henry shared. “I ran up and told my mom and dad. They were so happy and yet were shockedat the same time. The fact that their kid got into Cornell made them so proud!"
Henry Sanchez is currently wrapping up his final quarter at Cal Poly Pomona and will start his graduate program at Cornell next fall. He doesn't know what the future at Cornell holds, but he looks forward to working in the fashion industry then eventually becoming a professor who can inspire students to pursue their interests .
Although Henry was at his lowest point academically back in 2017, he did not write himself off from achieving success.
“I'm happy that even though it was a struggle at first, this experience helped me grow and build my way to where I am now," said Henry. “Once you go down, you can only go up. Just try things you've always wanted to do and give it your all."