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Marine fosters passion for service and leadership at DePaul University

Ulises Ivan Sanchez
Ulises Ivan Sanchez demonstrates leadership and his passion for service while serving in the Marine Corps and completing his tenure as president of DePaul's Student Veterans Union. Sanchez graduates from DePaul University with a Bachelor of Arts degree from the School for New Learning. (Photo by Michael Schacht)
If you asked him 10 years ago, Ulises Ivan Sanchez would have never guessed that he was going to provide human resources support to over 1,500 Marines, serve three years in Germany, receive a bachelor’s degree or be working towards a master’s degree in human resources.

He had intended to pursue a career in television and film, but his passion of service led him in another direction.

Sanchez recently received a Bachelor of Arts degree with an individual focus on leadership and human resources management and will deliver a commencement address during this year’s ceremony for the School for New Learning at DePaul University.

Career path

After attending Columbia College Chicago for advanced television editing during his senior year of high school, Sanchez took a year off to focus on finding a career that was better suited to his aspirations for serving his country, as well as his natural leadership qualities and compassionate personality. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps, where he would serve his country for eight years and earn multiple awards and certifications along the way.

“When I was growing up, I was growing up as an undocumented immigrant. I wanted to serve my country, and earn my place, so I joined Marine Corps,” Sanchez said. He recalled his experiences growing up as an immigrant, and the process of becoming a U.S. citizen. To him, serving as a Marine would mean fulfilling his civic duty as a U.S. citizen.

Over the years, Sanchez dedicated his time to mentoring and training young men and women in the Marines. As Staff Non-commissioned Officer, he coached young Marines through some of the most challenging and rewarding times of their lives. For Sanchez, the most rewarding part of this experience was being there to see young men and women succeed as he had.

“You’re talking about a group of young men and women who are struggling to find their voice and their place in the professional world. My role was to coach them and help them find their way through the Marine Corps concept,” said Sanchez. “Helping them become better men and women was the most rewarding and challenging thing. It’s like watching your kids grow up.”

Balancing career and scholarship

While serving in the Marine Corps, Sanchez decided it was time to go back to school. He was immediately drawn to the flexibility and advantages of DePaul’s School for New Learning, an internationally acclaimed program for returning adult students. It was the perfect fit for Sanchez. The program allowed him to take online classes to fulfill course credit since he was assigned to U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe at the same time he enrolled. While serving as assistant personnel chief in Germany, Sanchez was able to balance his leadership roles and successfully complete many of his courses.

Three years and three months later, Sanchez returned to the U.S. and was already halfway through his Bachelor of Arts degree program. He stressed how beneficial and convenient the program had been for him while serving in the Marines.

“Instead of knocking out a number of credit hours, the School for New Learning is built to our own competencies,” he said. “We choose our own path to a Bachelor of Arts degree.”

Sanchez always has been heavily involved with the community. His caring and compassionate personality has given him the necessary tools for prospering in human resources, and are a huge motive behind his success as a leader.

As he was completing his bachelor’s degree at DePaul, Sanchez became involved with the Student Veterans Union and completed his tenure as president of the organization.

“We provide networking opportunities in terms of providing space for other veterans where they can meet and connect through their past services. We provide volunteer opportunities since most veterans want to continue serving people,” Sanchez added.

Mission: Service

He noticed a strong connection between DePaul’s mission and his practices in the organization. Students in the Student Veteran Union demonstrate and value education, service and advocacy, which are a part of the Vincentian values.

As he continues to thrive in the DePaul community, Sanchez recalled some tips that have helped him stay motivated in relation to both education and work.

“Whatever you decide to do, you have to go in with the mindset that you’re going to give it all you got. Even if it’s not where you want to be at that moment, go into it with everything you have because at the end of the day, it’s the learning experiences that count,” he said.

Ulises Ivan Sanchez is on track to graduate from the Kellstadt Graduate School of Business in DePaul’s Driehaus College of Business in March 2016, with a Master of Science degree in human resources. From there, he will continue building relationships with human resource professionals and may even pursue a doctorate degree.

One in a series of stories about graduates from the Class of 2015


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Wendy Zamaripa Smit​
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