Student does double duty with 50-hour work weeks
Published: Monday, December 2, 2013
Updated: Monday, December 2, 2013 23:12
University of Connecticut senior Trevor Sanchez sits down at a coffee shop near his job at the University of Connecticut Transportation Department, and says he only has 45 minutes before he has to go back to work. Though Sanchez has been working all day, his shift isn’t over for another three hours. But this is normal.
Long days spent juggling work and school are what Sanchez has grown accustomed to as a full-time student who has to put himself through college.
Sanchez graduated from Hamden High School in the spring of 2009 and had his heart set on going to college regardless of the financial burden he would have to take on.
“I came from a low class family, neither of my parents [are] well educated or have any sort of extensive degrees,” said Sanchez. “College was my own decision, they pushed me, but the resources weren’t there for [them] to help me.”
Sanchez, who majors in political science and minors in history and Latino studies, aspires to create a non-profit organization to help underprivileged youth around the world build an intercontinental digital network, where they can learn about culture, language and geography directly from one classroom to another.
In order to afford school and living expenses, Sanchez used to work an average of 50 hours a week. At the UConn Transportation Department he wears many hats and splits his time between driving shuttle buses, dispatching from base, training new drivers and working as a preventative maintenance mechanic. Sanchez says the wide range of positions he holds at UTD gives him access to more hours and higher pay.
During the week Sanchez also put in hours as a dispatcher and security watch for the UConn Police Department.
After working 50 hours a week and taking five classes, one would think Sanchez would take the weekends off to relax a little. Instead Sanchez turns his attention to the DJ company he started a few years ago as a means of turning his love for music into a lucrative trade.
“Around the end of sophomore year I began to DJ to bring in money,” said Sanchez. “Then I realized that UConn was a network I could thrive in as a DJ, so I found a couple of investors and started Tre Midi & Co, a mobile DJ service and booking agency.”
He has a 3.0 GPA, but Sanchez said work is the reason he’s a B student and not an A student.
“Why am I working so hard? So I can go to school,” Sanchez said. “School comes first; I’m here for school so I find time to do it.”
Sanchez is like many young students today who work to put themselves through college. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 79 percent of undergraduate students are working to pay for college in some way.
According to the American Association of University Professors, Sanchez falls into the growing group of college students where “nearly one in ten (eight percent) full-time, traditional-age undergraduates is employed at least thirty-five hours per week.”
Former UConn senior Devin Arch also falls into this category. As a page editor for the Nutmeg Yearbook her senior year, Arch, a Georgia native majoring in a communication design, worked to afford her personal expenses and more importantly her school project supplies.
“My parents paid for bills such as rent and groceries but not any personal or school related expenses, [but] I didn’t have mom and dad’s credit card to fall back on.”
Arch said many of her classmates worked in order to afford their school supplies. “Pretty much everyone in my major worked, a lot of it [was because] they had to pay for projects too.”
With the expenses of school being so high, Arch pushed herself to take 18 credits a semester in order to graduate in three years.
“Financially it’s a big thing because we couldn’t afford a full other year of out state tuition.”
Students like Sanchez and Arch are becoming more of the norm. With the cost of education increasing, students are working more hours in order to afford a college education and all the expenses that come along with it.
According to an Inside Higher Ed article titled “The Impact of Student Employment,” “the days are long past when many college students had a choice but to work. As tuitions have risen and more and more undergraduates are enrolling later in life, nearly half of all full-time students and 80 percent of part-time students work – numbers that are likely only to grow in the future.”
Both students said working in college has helped them gain life experience and taught them the value of hard work.
“The path that I’ve had in life, I’m still incredibly grateful for, “ said Sanchez. “I wouldn’t change anything because I’m so grateful for the person I am today.”