U of A Graduate Student Claire Sanchez Helps Teens Who Have Been Abused, Incarcerated

The College of Education and Health Professions is the second largest college at the University of Arkansas with over 5,000 students studying to be nurses, athletic trainers, teachers, counselors and more.

Many are engaged in innovative and impactful efforts that embody the COEHP spirit. Every week when school is in session, COEHP will highlight one of these exceptional students — and occasionally an alumnus or faculty member — in a series called the Dean's Spotlight. COEHP's dean, Dr. Brian Primack, initiated the series.

"I think that stories are critical. People remember stories, and stories help illustrate the value of our work in education, research and community engagement," Primack said. "Therefore, I'm very happy to be teaming up with our communication director Shannon Magsam, who has been helping me to discover the stories of some of our most remarkable students and bring them to light. I'm thrilled that we can present these stories to the University of Arkansas campus and the world."

This week, COEHP is shining the Dean's Spotlight on Claire Sanchez, a remarkable graduate student who's in the teacher preparation program.

Sanchez's ultimate goal — her life's work as she calls it — is to design a school and curriculum that helps students coming out of severe trauma, abuse, and human trafficking to become strong, empowered members of their community who stop the cycle of violence.

Several personal experiences have shaped that plan. Sanchez has worked with girls coming out of human trafficking and sexual abuse in a school in India. And for the past three years she's worked with troubled students, many of whom had recently been released from a juvenile detention center in her hometown of Springdale.

"I have been able to see how these students are living in cycles of violence and poverty," she said. "I even had one student this past week who mentioned he was the brother of a student I had three years ago who was shot in gang violence. Now he is his brother's caregiver because this student's legs were amputated due to this violence."

For Sanchez, that discussion reaffirmed that violence and poverty are a cycle that education has the power to break.

"My goal is to stop the cycle of child abuse and generational poverty through education," she said. "Teachers can facilitate grit, resilience and higher ordered thinking skills in many generations to come. I've seen it in Africa, India and Springdale."

Sanchez is a graduate student at the University of Arkansas completing her Master of Arts in Teaching degree. The M.A.T. program enables her to teach in a real classroom — with experienced mentor teachers — before she has her own to lead. Sanchez was assigned to George Elementary in Springdale for her first semester, and she's now teaching at Kirksey Middle School in Rogers.

"I am loving my internship," she said. "Through my time at George, and now at Kirksey, I have learned so many different tools to better help my future students. This internship has increased my excitement to be a classroom teacher even more, which is incredible considering how excited I was before the program began."

In addition to juggling schoolwork and volunteering, Sanchez works with her father running their dog training business.

Sanchez said being a student at the University of Arkansas has helped her learn that it's better to focus not on the career you want as much as focusing on the problem you want to solve.

"What I really want is to leave a legacy beyond my lifetime that helps people for generations to come," she said. "I don't really care if people ever know my name. I just want them to be impacted for good through my actions.

"When my time on this earth ends, I hope my fingerprints are everywhere, but my name is nowhere. That's what I would consider a successful life."

To read more Dean's Spotlight stories and other COEHP community news, visit the College's online magazine, the Colleague. The College of Education and Health Professions offers advanced academic degrees as well as professional development opportunities and learning communities in service to the education and health systems of Arkansas and beyond. The U of A Master of Arts in Teaching program has been recognized as one of the leading U.S. teacher preparation programs by the American Association of Teacher Educators.


Shannon G. Magsam, director of communications
College of Education and Health Professions
479-575-3138, magsam@uark.edu


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