Civic-Minded Student Christopher Sanchez Honored

Sanchez has been named a Campus Compact 2013 Newman Civic Fellow.

Coral Gables (April 30, 2013) — At least once a week, University of Miami junior Christopher Sanchez puts aside his books and research on wetland ecology to accompany groups of elementary school students on field trips of the Deering Estate at Cutler. Sanchez uses the 444-acre preserve as a living classroom and laboratory, teaching the youngsters about the environment, plant life, and animal species.

Sanchez could easily take a pass on being a role model to the kids. But it is important to him to be there. “It’s my way of giving back,” says Sanchez, a double major in anthropology and ecosystem science and policy who is on track to graduate in December 2013. “I’ve been able to excel academically because of teachers who mentored and motivated me. So now I feel inspired to do the same for younger kids. I know what it’s like to have walked in their shoes.”

Sanchez has been recognized for his community efforts. The 20-year-old is a recipient of a 2013 Newman Civic Fellow Award, which honors college students who are dedicated to finding solutions for challenges facing communities throughout the nation. The award is named for Frank Newman, one of the founders of Campus Compact, a national coalition of almost 1,200 college and university presidents who are committed to fulfilling the civic purposes of higher education. UM President Donna E. Shalala presented Sanchez with the award on April 18 at a private ceremony held in her office.

In addition to his work locally with elementary school kids, Sanchez  mentors minority high school students as part of the Central Arizona-Phoenix Long-Term Ecological Research program. Sanchez has been a college student member of the National Science Foundation-funded initiative since 2011, conducting research on arid land ecosystems profoundly influenced by human activities.

Sanchez’s love of research began in high school when he authored a paper on the Florida Everglades that appeared in a top-tier peer-reviewed journal. Currently, he is researching methods to make systems more sustainable “so that we don’t deplete our natural resources,” he says. He is active in several eco-friendly initiatives at UM, including Earth Alert and Sustainable U.



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