Originally from the Dominican Republic, Shenandoah alumnus Placido Sanchez ’07 always felt a special connection to his Latin American culture. Sanchez spent the first eight years of his life on the island in the Caribbean before he moved with his mother and brothers to Silver Spring, Md., where he grew up.
Sanchez was originally drawn to Shenandoah because of his interest in playing football. A defensive end, Sanchez participated in the Hornet’s back-to-back conference championship teams in 2003 and 2004.
“I enjoyed all four years here,” said Sanchez. “The best two years were definitely the years we won those championships, but the entire experience was great for me.”
Always keeping his heritage in mind, Sanchez majored in Spanish in Shenandoah’s College of Arts & Sciences. With his background, he was able to study the language in more detail and travel to other Hispanic-speaking countries. Shenandoah gave Sanchez the ability to deeply explore his family history and gain a better understanding of his roots.
“I knew there was more to the language that I didn’t know,” remarked Sanchez. “I love the Latino culture and was able to study it. I love traveling, and Shenandoah allowed to me go to Argentina for a summer. It was a great learning tool for me.”
Looking back at his time at Shenandoah, Sanchez appreciated the small-school experience, the low teacher-to-student ratio and the fact that his professors knew him by name and cared about how he was doing on a daily basis. Shenandoah encouraged community service, and Sanchez took full advantage of several opportunities to get involved.
“Along with football, I was part of the Latino Club, a Bible Study group, and I went to as many conservatory performances as I could,” commented Sanchez. “I really tried to hang out with everyone at school, and it helped me to learn more about the Winchester community.”
After graduation, Sanchez spent four years at Grafton Integrated Schools in Berryville, Va., where he found a passion for helping children. He now serves as a patrol officer for the Winchester City Police Department, where feels he is using all of his talents and learning more about how he can serve others in the future.
“In my position, I’m able to help the Latino community in Winchester,” said Sanchez. “They recognize me from being around Winchester for a few years and feel comfortable approaching me and asking me for help.”
Sanchez attributes much of his success to Shenandoah. “I built a good foundation at Shenandoah,” he said. “I got involved with the community, and that was a big stepping stone. When I joined the department, I already knew the community I’d be working with; I already knew the people. Shenandoah did a lot with the community, which gave me an edge.”
In the future, Sanchez hopes to take his experiences at Grafton and the Winchester Police Department to help children who have been abused or mistreated. He feels Shenandoah, Grafton and the Winchester Police Department prepared him to reach this goal.