UTA’s Sanchez recognized as Mujer Legendaria

Jessica Sanchez honored by Ford Motor Company for innovation, advocacy and engagement

Friday, Oct 07, 2022 • Devynn Case : Contact

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Jessica Sanchez grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska, often pondering her social identity as she explored her place in the world.

“Being vulnerable with my identities has been a huge part of my life—with navigating what it means to be a biracial woman of color and a first-generation student,” said Sanchez, director for Student Advocacy Services at The University of Texas at Arlington. “At times I didn’t always know what to do or who to turn to.”

Now Sanchez prioritizes inclusiveness in the fields of social justice, advocacy and education to ensure that students are seen, heard and recognized at UTA. She is adjunct faculty for the School of Social Work and the Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies program and one of four North Texas recipients of the 2022 Mujeres Legendarias Award presented by the Ford Motor Company.

Mujeres Legendarias, or legendary women, is a national program honoring Hispanic women who improve their communities by embodying the four pillars of the Ford brand: leadership, environmental and human sustainability, community and innovation. Award recipients are leaders in education, business, volunteerism and art.

“I've always had a big heart in that I want to find ways to help people,” Sanchez said. “This translates directly to my love and passion for education. I want students to know that they have a mentor, a staff member or a faculty member who can relate to and support them through difficult times.”

As UTA’s director for Student Advocacy Services, Sanchez oversees relationship violence and sexual assault prevention, the LGBTQ+ Program, the Maverick Food Pantry and the Emergency Assistance Fund.

“I'm not your typical higher education professional, as my academic background is human sexuality studies, but human sexuality intersects so beautifully into the work that I do for advocacy and education,” she said. “It really fills my cup to identify areas of need, make them more inclusive, represent underserved communities and empower women of color.”

Previous recipients of the North Texas Mujeres Legendarias Award from UTA include Minerva Cordero, professor of mathematics and associate dean in the College of Science; Maria Martinez-Cosio, interim dean for the College of Architecture, Planning and Public Affairs; Rose Youngblood, associate vice president for development; Denise Hernandez, a public health adjunct professor in the College of Nursing and Health Innovation; and Elizabeth Couch, former assistant director for media relations.

“Through her advocacy and engagement on behalf of students and diverse communities, Jessica has served as a catalyst for change,” said Michele Bobadilla, UTA’s senior associate vice president for outreach and community engagement and assistant provost for Hispanic student success. “It was an honor to nominate Dr. Jessica Sanchez for this national recognition for innovation.”