Rene Sanchez ′13
Major: Globalization of Latin America (self-designed major)
Hometown: Aguascalientes, Mexico
What’s been the journey from Mexico to Rhodes?
Originally, I was born in Mexico but I moved to Houston when I was two and then I went to high school in Memphis. Rhodes wasn’t really on my list at all for college. In fact, I didn’t even hear about Rhodes until my junior year of high school. One of the first things I noticed about Rhodes was the campus because it’s beautiful. And then Bonner gave me their Bonner Service Scholarship. Just the fact that I could do that kind of service work at Rhodes was the big cherry on top of my decision to come here.
What’s your Bonner service look like?
Last year I was all over the place, but this year I’m mostly working with the LGBT community—Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center (MGLCC) and Friends for Life. And I’m working with Bridges. It’s an organization in Memphis and Shelby County that tries to raise new community leaders to fight for racial, economic, and environmental justice. I spend about 12 hours a week doing both. And I do a lot of work on campus with LGBT advocacy through Kinney.
You’ve been quite the busy guy these past two years.
Yeah, I’ve been working with Bridges since freshman year. I also work with Rhodes Rebuilds. It’s a group that goes to New Orleans annually and works to rebuild houses, or paint, or tear down houses. Even though it’s been a number of years since Hurricane Katrina, there are still a lot of areas in disrepair, especially the poorer areas of the city. During fall semester 2010 I was the fund-raising coordinator for Rhodes Rebuilds, and we held a faculty-student basketball game. It was a lot of fun and it was really successful and we’re doing it again this semester.
As for Kinney, I’m the LGBT coordinator. It’s a fairly new part of Kinney, and it’s only in its second or third year. It’s the smallest part of Kinney because the gay community here in Memphis is not that big. We essentially work with people at the Community Center and go out to different places and do advocacy work.
Do you have any time left in your week for personal projects?
Of course! This year I was motivated by Dan Savage and the It Gets Better Project, so I requested money from the Rhodes Allocations Board and funding from Kinney for a project. I will give disposable cameras to transgender, bisexual, gay, lesbian–youth and the elderly—anyone who is a part of the gay community. And for a week I want them to document their life to see how normal or how typical they are, or to see how badly they are treated. In the end I want to have a few presenters come and speak at Rhodes. I want them to talk about how different their lives are compared to how they’re perceived.