A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Gateway student Arie Sanchez wants to advocate for immigration, racial justice, and promote inclusion

By Natalie Hamren
KyForward reporter

Second-year Gateway Community & Technical College social work student Arie Sanchez is passionate about social justice. When she enters the social work field, she wants to advocate for immigration rights, racial justice, and LGBTQ+ rights and equality.

She particularly wants to work with and advocate for children, a group she said is especially vulnerable. Sanchez gained interest in social work through her job at the Northern Kentucky Scholar House — which is part of a comprehensive statewide, two-generation self-sufficiency program for single-parent families. Sanchez said if it weren’t for working with the children at families at the Scholar House, she wouldn’t have enrolled in secondary-education herself.

“The parents at the scholar house, they all have different stories and a different background and they’re also just so resilient,” Sanchez said.

Arie Sanchez

Sanchez is a one and two-year-old early headstart teacher at the Scholar House. She’s responsible for supervising the children, caring for their needs, documenting behavior and reporting it to the parents, home visits and more.

In the classroom, Sanchez tries to promote diversity and inclusivity.

“I try to create the safest, most inclusive environment. I’m all about diversity,” Sanchez said. “I encourage diversity in the classroom and celebrating other children’s cultures and their backgrounds.”

Once in the field, Sanchez hopes to work with undocumented immigrants and their children. Sanchez’s father is from Mexico, so she said she personally knows how long the immigration process can take. It took 13 years for her father to gain permanent residency in the United States, Sanchez said. She said people need to be more compassionate toward immigrants, especially the children who didn’t choose this life for themselves.

“I also understand that for some people, especially their children, they didn’t want this for themselves. But their parents—in most situations—they wanted them to have a better life and I think that’s something we all need to be compassionate for,” Sanchez said.

Sanchez is a single mom, balancing work and college. She said she does her homework on her breaks at work or after she puts her son to sleep at night. She even bought her son a toy laptop, so he can sit with her and pretend he’s doing homework as well.

“It’s a little bit difficult being a single mom. Then I think about all the moms that the Scholar House serves and how they’re able to do it,” Sanchez said. “I feel confident that I’m able to do it, too.”

Sanchez said she was shocked when she found out she was the Human Services Student of the Month back in October. Sanchez said she struggles with her mental health, so she personally didn’t think she was doing that great in school—despite her grades being good. She said receiving the award made her realize that she can be a social worker someday and that she does excel in school.

“I participate really well in classes. I know a lot about the community and the resources in the community. I think that’s definitely helped me and I’ve been able to tell other classmates of different resources and things and give my input,” Sanchez said.

The award boosted her self-esteem, Sanchez said, but there are still elements to her mental health that she can’t control. Through her time in the social work and human services field, she said she’s learned that self-care is extremely important because you’re interacting with people who have various levels of trauma that can personally affect you. Sanchez practices self-care by doing art, graphic design, making jewelry and spending time with her son.

After graduating from Gateway with an associate’s degree, Sanchez will attend Northern Kentucky University to get her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work. Sanchez said her own life experiences will help her relate to people in the field, such as being a single mother or having a parent from another country.

“I understand a lot of these issues or problems in living that are going on in the world, such as poverty and homelessness. I understand all of that,” Sanchez said. “And, again, with mental health, I have dealt with my own mental health disorders too.”

Sanchez said it’s important to be knowledgeable and an active listener in order to help others toward their goals in the social work and human services field.

“We have to make sure that we are active listeners, and that we are learning to be competent in the field, as well as knowing about resources in the area or in the community that can best serve the populations that you work with,” Sanchez said.

Natalie Hamren is the Mike Farrell Intern for the KyForward, writing a series of stories about college students and how they are coping in the COVID environment. She is also editor of the Northerner, NKU’s independent student newspaper.

Related Posts

Leave a Comment