Cesia Sanchez is a dynamic young woman who will graduate from A&M in May 2016 with a degree in economics and a minor in math. Cesia Sanchez is the recipient of numerous academic awards. As a finalist for the Hispanic Scholarship Fund’s Scholar of the Year, she will soon travel to California for the organization’s Leaders in Education Awards dinner in April. Her next step includes earning a doctorate in economics, and her dream is to one day become president of a Reserve Bank. The following is a speech she gave to our 2016 Community Builders Breakfast audience:
Howdy! I am so excited to be here today to tell you what Habitat has meant to me and my family. It’s been a year and a half since my mom, Margarita Sanchez, received the keys to her Habitat home in College Station. My mom is here with me today, and I know she shares the same sentiments about Habitat that I do.
Before I talk about where our Habitat journey has taken us, I want to share a little about where we’ve been. I am one of five siblings. We grew up in Oak Cliff, a neighborhood southwest of Dallas. Those were difficult times. My dad was a truck driver and rarely home. My mom worked two jobs while trying to raise five kids. It got even worse when my mom suffered a neck injury in a car accident. She was laid off from both jobs and, when my father lost his income, the bank foreclosed on our house.
Because my parents lived paycheck to paycheck and struggled to pay all the bills, there was never extra money for school supplies or holiday gifts. When it came to having fun, we kids had to be creative. My siblings and I would collect rocks and leaves from our backyard. We used the rocks as coins and the leaves as dollars to buy items from a pretend supermarket in the house.
As difficult as things were, two things helped sustain me. My mother’s faith is one. I am still amazed at how she never gave up believing that God would provide her with a new house of her own. I also learned firsthand that there were caring community members who helped families in need. The school supplies and Christmas gifts we received from the people at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas made a huge difference in my young life. I have come to realize now that what happened in my childhood is what drives me today. It molded my character. Without experiencing what I did, I wouldn’t know how to value the things I have. And without the people who sacrificed to help me, I wouldn’t be here today.
Our Habitat journey has been amazing. God used Habitat to bless me and my family in so many ways. My mom still cries because she is so happy to have her home, which has made her life much less stressful. It was sponsored by the City of College Station, and many individuals and groups of volunteers helped build it. Some of those people are here today, and I want you to know how her life has changed because of you.
My life has also changed, in ways I never thought possible. The day the walls were raised on my mom’s home, I met a person who has become a great mentor and personal friend. Dr. John Nichols, the former head of Texas A&M’s agricultural economics department, provided an opportunity for me to apply for an internship at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, where I interned last summer. It was an incredible experience, and it happened because I met Dr. Nichols on the construction site of my mom’s Habitat home.
So to all the people who donated funds and labor, you made my mom’s dream a reality, and my dream became a reality, too! What you give to Habitat goes way beyond building a home. It may take years to see, but you are creating safer neighborhoods and bettering the economy. Above all, you are saving families! Family is the most important thing. A safe, affordable home keeps families together and makes their bonds stronger. As I said earlier, we wouldn’t be here today without you. God has worked through you, opening doors so that we can make changes in our lives that will resonate far into the future.
Thank you all and God bless you.