Joseph Sanchez

Degree: Bachelor of Science in Recreational Therapy

College/School: School of Education and Human Development; College of Arts, Sciences & Education

Two debilitating illnesses made Joseph Sanchez’s pursuit of a bachelor’s degree a five-year ordeal.

Diagnosed with cerebral palsy and Crohn’s disease, Joseph has undergone 18 surgeries on his eyes, legs and abdomen. One surgery was so intense it forced him to stay home for a year and recover.

During that time, he kept in touch with friends and one of them suggested he take an introductory recreational therapy course. Taking that class was a “Eureka!” moment for Joseph because he had found a career where he had a hands-on role in helping people like himself overcome disabilities.

Joseph credits his mentors, professors Cari Autry and Alexis McKenney, for sparking the interest in a career that will allow him to meld his love for technology with his passion for helping people with disabilities. He also heaps praise on the patient driving instructor who helped him learn to drive over the course of 15 months. This allowed Joseph to commute to an internship and gave him his first taste of independence.

After commencement, Joseph looks forward to finding a job in the recreational therapy field where he can help his patients use technology to improve their skills or cognitive abilities. He also plans to earn a master’s degree in recreational therapy and to one day move out of his parents’ home and live independently.