Entrepreneur, politician Sanchez will receive honorary doctorate

St. Mary’s University alumna Michele Lepe (B.B.A. ’97) – best known as the host of “The Good Night Show” on the children’s TV network Sprout – will serve as keynote speaker at the 164th annual Spring Commencement Exercises on Saturday, May 7.

The University also will award a Doctor of Letters, honoris causa, to alumnus A.R. “Tony” Sanchez Jr. (B.B.A. ’65, J.D. ’69) for his myriad accomplishments as an entrepreneur, politician and philanthropist.

Since 2006, Lepe has bonded with millions of preschoolers and parents as Nina the Good Night Guide, winning a regional Emmy in 2007 for Best Host. Her most recent project is “Nina’s World,” an animated show based on the character she brought to life. She is executive producer of the program, which tells the Hispanic-American experience from the point of view of a 6-year-old.

“I’m grateful for the four years spent at St. Mary’s because it was here that I gained the knowledge and confidence needed to succeed in pursuing my dreams,” Lepe said. “I’m humbled by the opportunity to share this special occasion with all the graduates and their loved ones.”

St. Mary’s will celebrate the accomplishments of 402 new graduates, including 328 receiving bachelor’s degrees, 73 receiving master’s degrees and one student receiving a doctoral degree.

Commencement exercises will begin at 1:30 p.m. at Bill Greehey Arena, inside the Alumni Athletics & Convocation Center on the St. Mary’s campus. Baccalaureate Mass will be held Friday, May 6, at 5:30 p.m., also at Greehey Arena. Media are welcome at both events.

One student – Liza Hepburn, receiving her bachelor’s in Engineering Management – will graduate with a 4.0 GPA. Eighteen students will graduate summa cum laude; 21 will graduate magna cum laude; 46 will graduate cum laude; and 19 will receive distinguished graduate honors.

Live streaming video is available for family and friends who are unable to attend the commencement ceremony in person.

More about Michele Lepe
Michele Lepe was born in North Carolina, but her father’s Air Force career and her mother’s Spanish heritage took the family to Cambridge, England, and Alcalá de Guadaíra (Sevilla), Spain. They moved to San Antonio when she was in third grade. She attended Judson High School, then earned her bachelor’s degree in International Business from St. Mary’s in 1997. After graduation, she became an account executive at Sosa, Bromley, Aguilar & Associates and focused on acting in her spare time.

Three years later, after earning roles in plays and commercials, Lepe moved to Miami to pursue her acting career. She worked as co-host of a radio morning show before landing a role on Telemundo’s “Los Teens” in September 2002. The miniseries portrayed the struggles of Latino teenagers in a manner not seen before on Spanish-language television. She went on to become co-host of “Off the Roof,” a variety talk show for Latino youth, and a co-star in Univision’s dramatic miniseries, “Al Filo de la Ley.”

More about A.R. “Tony” Sanchez Jr.
A.R. “Tony” Sanchez Jr., Executive Chairman of the Board of Sanchez Energy Corporation, is an alumnus of St. Mary’s University, earning a B.B.A. and a J.D. – before entering the business world where he has been a banker, oilman and venture capitalist.

He served on the St. Mary’s University Board of Trustees from 1981 to 1986. His achievements resulted in recognition as a St. Mary’s University Distinguished Alumnus, School of Law Distinguished Graduate, and Hispanic Law Alumni Association’s Henry B. Gonzalez Award recipient.

As the major shareholder in International Bancshares Corp., he is a leader of the largest Hispanic-owned financial institution in the country. He and his father co-founded Sanchez Oil & Gas and Sanchez Energy Group in 1972. His other interests include venture capital investments and partnerships in high-technology businesses, industrial parks, ranches, and commercial real estate.

Sanchez was the first Hispanic to receive a major party nomination as Democratic candidate for the governor of Texas. He was a strong supporter of George W. Bush during his campaigns for Texas governor and United States president.

The Sanchez family is staunch in its support of education. He served on the University of Texas System Board of Regents, and his family is a longtime supporter of Texas A&M International University, including their business school, which bears Sanchez’s name.

He established the A.R. Sanchez Sr. and Iris Sanchez Stewart Cancer Center, part of Laredo’s Mercy Health Care System, in honor of his father and sister, both victims of cancer. The Sanchez Family Foundation made a $2 million commitment to Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston to provide primary care for medically underserved children.

Sanchez’s community and civic leadership roles include: former director of the LBJ Foundation at the University of Texas at Austin; member of the National Board of Directors of the Smithsonian Institution; and, as a member of the National Petroleum Council, adviser to the Secretary of the U. S. Department of Energy, among others. He has been inducted into the Texas Business Hall of Fame.

He has served on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission and has actively supported the Boy Scouts, Little League, the Ruth B. Cowl Rehabilitation Center, and more.

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