Omar Sanchez

Reach for new heights

A first-generation college student, Omar Sanchez, 22, is a senior in journalism who transferred from Columbia College in Chicago. At KU, he changed his focus from film studies to journalism. Sanchez has worked for The University Daily Kansan as a correspondent and is currently the arts and culture editor. This summer, he’ll be a features intern for the San Antonio Express-News.

I felt I had to change majors when I’d go home and notice I wasn’t working on my scripts, but rather watching Bulls games and writing for a Bulls blog. It was almost like falling out of love with what I was doing.

I chose journalism because I had a distinct problem with myself being so introverted. And going into college and kind of experiencing new things, I started opening myself up more.

The best advice I got from my parents was to look at them. They came as immigrants from Mexico already set on getting married and having kids and their careers. They sat me down and said, “This is your time. Invest in yourself as much as possible.”

How I decided on KU was by using ranking websites to look up the school and even seeing what alumni and writers had come out of it recently. Even though the University of Kansas has a prestigious program, I wanted to know the recency of it too.

The hardest part of being a transfer student is people here have four years to kind of step up and build up their game, and I literally have a year-and-a-half to do that. So while I did eventually get a part-time job at Chipotle, I was cranking out stories and working tirelessly to be in the program as much as possible.

When I first became a correspondent for the UDK, I really wanted to do something that could make a splash. Out of scouring the internet, I ended up getting into contact with Scot Pollard’s wife, Dawn. And through her, I ended up getting an interview with him.

What I took away from that interview was that like Scot Pollard, I definitely didn’t want to be the person stuck in the most pivotal moments. That’s kind of been my baseline. I’ve just been dedicated to try and get every story as right as possible and trying to have fun at the same time.

To find an internship, I grinded out essays and sent them out every weekend. I even reached out to different newspapers like the San Jose Mercury News to ask, “Do you guys have an internship in the summer? There’s a posting in 2013, but are you going to have it this summer?” I ended up applying in 16 different areas.

I’m excited to intern with the San Antonio Express-News because it has a great culture and vibe. It’ll be really interesting with the weather, though. I’m sure business casual in 110-degree weather is going to be fantastic.

Journalism has changed me in that it directly was able to make me feel like I could go out and do these things, like interviewing Scot Pollard, Hannibal Buress and Adam Devine. If Omar from like five years ago were told that, he’d freak out and start having a panic attack.

My advice for a new student would be a day goes by really quickly. Each day you don’t do something that involves a step toward your success is a day lost.

Scott Chasen is a senior journalism student from Tulsa, Oklahoma. He has previously written for The University Daily Kansan, Topeka Capital-Journal and and hopes to attend graduate school at KU before seeking a full-time job in sports writing.