Great-grandson of education pioneer Simon Sanchez honored as teacher | Lifestyle

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David Sanchez, a University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering professor and the great-grandson of Guam education pioneer Simon Sanchez, received an award for “Outstanding Teaching in Environmental Engineering & Science” by the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors.







Great-grandson of education pioneer Simon Sanchez honored as teacher

David Sanchez, a University of Pittsburgh professor and the great-grandson of Guam education pioneer Simon Sanchez, received the award for Outstanding Teaching in Environmental Engineering & Science by the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors at the Conference Banquet June 30, 2022, in St. Louis, Missouri.




“This award is an invitation to humbly reflect on all the opportunities I’ve been afforded and having the wonderful blessing of being able to be born on Guam,” said the 38-year-old assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering. “So many of the fundamental values and perspectives from Guam are really what shaped how I approach the work that I do whether it’s research or education or teaching.

“As a matter of fact, when I won the award, I texted everybody in my family back home and said, ‘I hope you all claim credit for this because none of this was possible without faith, family and culture,’” said the former Tamuning resident who now lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. “That continues to be the strongest influence of how I approach teaching, research or administration.”







Great-grandson of education pioneer Simon Sanchez honored as teacher

David Sanchez’s family. From left: brother Pedro F. Sanchez; brother Simon A. Sanchez III; mother Zita D. Pangelinan; Sanchez; sister Maria Sanchez; and brother Jacob P. Sanchez.










Great-grandson of education pioneer Simon Sanchez honored as teacher

The late Anthony P. Sanchez, David Sanchez’s father.










Great-grandson of education pioneer Simon Sanchez honored as teacher

David Sanchez with his wife, Megan, and their three daughters.




David Sanchez, the associate director of Pitt’s Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation, also received the Swanson School of Engineering’s “Outstanding Educator Award” in April and the Chancellor’s “Distinguished Teaching Award” in 2020.

“These awards are a chance to celebrate a lot of the good things about our island,” the Southern High School graduate said. “We have a lot of talented individuals here and for that to be recognized is what I’m hoping for.”







Great-grandson of education pioneer Simon Sanchez honored as teacher

David Sanchez with University of Pittsburgh engineering students on Guam after their sustainability presentations at the Guam Museum in collaboration with Guampedia and University of Guam.




Faith clears vague career path

Though David Sanchez won’t trade anything else for his profession, this wasn’t the case more than a decade ago after he graduated from the University of Portland in 2006 with a degree in engineering.

Despite having no plans of working as a professor, he enrolled in the University of Pittsburgh and graduated with both a master’s degree and PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering in 2014.

“When I finished my PhD, I was still unsure of the career path I wanted to take,” David Sanchez said. “I’m a person of faith so I prayed about it and reflected on the change I wanted to see in the world. That opportunity turned out to be becoming a professor.”

Since then, he has been a civil and environmental engineering professor at the University of Pittsburgh for almost seven years.

Service to communities

Throughout his years as an educator, David Sanchez has continuously looked for new ways to inspire students to apply their knowledge on sustainability outside the classroom.

“Service can be internal and can be within the profession,” he said. “One thing that comes to my mind is making deeper connections and trying to serve your communities like Guam or in underserved areas of Pittsburgh.”

As a researcher, David Sanchez focuses on sustainable systems in relation to water and technology.

“I attempt to find new innovative solutions to help manage our current crises or some of our needs and how to develop our global goals in such a way that allows for human flourishing,” he said.

Following the legacy of his great-grandfather

As the great-grandson of Simon Sanchez, David Sanchez resonates with his great-grandfather’s value of service, especially in the education field.

“The anchoring theme has been consistent with me, and I’ve always expected to serve others with my career,” David Sanchez said. “It’s a joyous thing for me that it resonates so well with what some of our pioneers like my great-grandfather had done because it celebrates the idea of acting with kindness with expecting nothing in return.”

Simon Sanchez was a pioneer in Guam education who established and formalized Guam’s public school system during the pre-war and post-war eras.

“Education is the most important by far, and I’m not only talking about technical training but who you are and what you’re bringing into the classroom,” David Sanchez said. “I believe that the biggest transformative piece will be the people and students around you — the next generation you influence — because you’re affecting thousands of students who will fill in industry roles and become leaders.”

“I think that’s a very unique space to be in, to try to relate to them and to facilitate their growth and development,” David Sanchez said. “It’s one of the reasons why I want to continue teaching.”


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