At the foot of the Blue Mountains, surrounded by fields of wheat and onions, it would be difficult to go to Walla Walla University by accident. Many students feel pressure when choosing where to pursue higher education. Sometimes, however, the simplest gestures or the grandest miracles can show God’s calling in our lives.
Meet Harold Sanchez who felt guided to Walla Walla University to pursue his dream of studying engineering, following his own unique path to Adventist higher education.
Walla Walla University is a little further from home for Harold Sanchez than for most students. Sanchez, a mechanical engineering major, grew up in Bogota, Colombia. Because English is not his first language, he sometimes has to work extra hard to understand material he learns in class. He also experienced culture shock upon his move to Washington.
However, Sanchez enjoys being at WWU, and said being here is fulfilling his dream of studying engineering. “It is a good challenge,” he explains, “It's really hard, but I'm really enjoying it. In engineering you have to think all the time and solve problems all of the time. I enjoy engineering because I like thinking.”
However, it was not always Sanchez’s plan to end up at WWU: “It has been a long time, but God has prepared me for this.”
When he was 15 years old, Sanchez attended Crowley High School in Dallas, Texas. Although Sanchez had to leave high school early to return to Colombia, he fell in love with America and knew that someday he wanted to return. That goal however, would have to wait.
Sanchez’s dream job is to be a designer at Boeing, and so he earned a degree in aeronautical engineering from a Colombian University. He then spent two years studying business in Australia before deciding to earn another degree, this time in mechanical engineering. In early 2021 he applied to various Canadian universities for that reason.
Sadly, Sanchez kept being denied either from the Canadian universities or from getting a visa. He felt defeated. “Nothing was working. At that point I was really disappointed," said Sanchez. "I told myself that I won't apply to universities anymore.” His dream seemed even further than before.
But then something miraculous happened. Sanchez’s aunt, who lives in the Walla Walla Valley, suggested Walla Walla University as a prime engineering school.
Sanchez applied despite the significant divergence from his plans. He explained, “I sent the documents in May, and on August 26 they told me, ‘Yes, you are approved to come to Walla Walla, and you have two weeks to get a visa.’ That is impossible!” Nonetheless, two weeks later he was boarding a plane to WWU with his visa in hand. He reflected, “I didn’t expect it, it was something that just happened. God made a miracle.”
Through everything, Sanchez trusted in God to carry him through whatever trial he faced. He said, “I will always talk about spiritual stuff because it is the most important thing that people forget all the time... I have been learning throughout my life that if you put God first, everything works towards your happiness.”
Posted January 6, 2022.