Family, culture & trip abroad inspire business model

December 18, 2015

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Learn Boldly: Gabe Sanchez ’15

When Gabe Sanchez started at Texas Lutheran University, he knew he wanted to focus on business management. However, when TLU introduced a social entrepreneurship major in 2012, Sanchez was drawn to how the program melded business classes with social causes.

Growing up, Sanchez was always involved with his grandmother’s nonprofit Round Rock Ballet Folklorico—an organization founded by Yolanda Sanchez in 1988 offering participants the chance to gain different perspectives about Mexican heritage and the different culture's that have influenced Mexico for many generations.

Inspired by his family’s passion for giving back to their community and what social entrepreneurship offered students, Sanchez switched his major.

“The best thing about the program is how it shows students the way to manage a successful business while remaining connected to a social issue they’re passionate about,” Sanchez said. “Working with my grandmother’s nonprofit, we always put on community events and made sure no child or person interested in participating was ever turned away because of income. It’s a way for people, including myself, to learn more about Hispanic heritage and express themselves through dance.”

Those experiences led Sanchez to choose the faith, culture, and diversity concentration. As a social entrepreneurship major, students develop a business plan for their own nonprofit or for-profit idea to be presented during senior capstone presentations. Once again drawing inspiration from his family, and his experience as a member of the TLU men’s soccer team, Sanchez’s business plan for an indoor soccer community center is something he hopes to one day turn into a reality.

“I see how a facility like this would be great for at-risk youth and kids who don’t have somewhere to go after school or maybe have the money to be in a soccer program,” Sanchez said. “My idea for this really solidified when I went on a trip to Guatemala with the soccer team.”

Not only did he and the other players get to observe the training methods and scrimmage U17 and U20 players with Guatemala’s largest professional football club, CSD Municipal, their travels also allowed them to gain a global perspective on humanitarianism. TLU alumnus Jose Flores—founder and CEO of VOS® Flips—a globally conscious brand that produces eco-friendly, 100 percent recyclable natural rubber sandals, led the trip along with his brother, and fellow TLU alumnus, Jimmy.

The company’s social initiative supports rubber-producing communities in Guatemala with health care and education.

Sanchez said the trip benefited him educationally, athletically and socially, also allowing him to network with successful alumni in the social entrepreneurship world.

“Guatemala is a beautiful country, but spending time with the kids in the local schools was the best experience I had,” Sanchez said. “I felt as if I was the one being impacted. Jose and Jimmy have influenced me so much, along with Coach Eddie Salazar. Coach Salazar is always encouraging his athletes to volunteer and give back and he’s very supportive of the social entrepreneurship major. I think the program shows what TLU is all about and how much we care about the community, serving others, and the world outside of this campus.”

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