MPA student helps communities from Brownsville to White House

Arts and Humanities
July 25, 2023

Master of Public Administration student improves lives through civic leadership

by Michelle Mondo

Emmanuel Sanchez (B.A. ’22) believes in the power of civil servants to improve their communities.

The combined-degree Political Science and Public Administration student has seen the impacts first-hand during internships in his hometown of Brownsville, with the White House Photo Office during the Spring 2023 semester, and his current internship assisting with project management at the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO).

“At the White House Photo Office, you’re documenting history. Photography can also play an important role in maintaining international relationships,” said Sanchez, adding that if a foreign dignitary visits the White House, the Photo Office would capture and provide photos to them. “This experience taught me the importance of building relationships between countries and sharing the story of the presidential administration.”

Seeking a supportive education

Master of Public Administration student Emmanuel Sanchez stands on the Political Science floor of St. Louis Hall.

Sanchez decided to attend St. Mary’s University because of the “holistic approach” to education and focus on community. He continued into the St. Mary’s Master of Public Administration program after completing his bachelor’s degree in Political Science.

“There is a focus on being stewards of public service and making sure that aspect is part of the education,” he said. “Because it is a Hispanic-Serving Institution, it wasn’t a big culture shock.”

As a first-generation student, Sanchez appreciated the support he received in navigating the university experience. He points to the TRiO Student Support Services program, which helped him land the internship in Washington, D.C. His internship at the White House was his first time living outside of Texas.

Marcy LeBossiere, who oversees the TRiO grant at St. Mary’s, hired Sanchez as an administrative assistant. She said he embodies the University’s Marianist tradition through his passion for serving others.

“He is very social-justice-minded and works daily to support underrepresented populations,” LeBossiere said.

Understanding public administration

One issue close to the graduate student’s heart is immigration. Sanchez’s father lives in Mexico as he navigates the immigration system to try and gain residency, while his mother and brother remain in Brownsville. Because of this experience, Sanchez first thought he wanted to focus on immigration law. It also led him to champion the creation of a Mexican American Studies minor at St. Mary’s.

But when he first took a public administration course, he realized he found his purpose.  

“I’m a true believer that if local government has more intention, the quality of life for everyone could really skyrocket,” Sanchez said. “That’s what studying public administration prepares you for.”

Monica Cruz, Ph.D., a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Master of Public Administration program, has taught Sanchez in two classes.

“Emmanuel has a deep commitment to public service for the common good,” Cruz said. “The breadth of his experiences at St. Mary’s and the depth of his character will continue to shape his future as a servant leader.”

“I’m a true believer that if local government has more intention, the quality of life for everyone could really skyrocket. That’s what studying public administration prepares you for.”

Emmanuel Sanchez

Sanchez is unsure where the future will take him once he earns his Master of Public Administration in Spring 2024, but he wants to bring his experience back to the Rio Grande Valley.

“So many kids leave the Valley because they think there’s nothing there for them, but it takes us coming back to make our community better,” Sanchez said. “My end goal is to get back to my community and give back there.”

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