Daisey Sanchez enjoys helping people. In the last few years, the Mission District native has helped teach special education classes in public schools in the neighborhood, and this semester she planned her department’s graduation ceremony. As she prepares to move out of state for graduate school, she hopes others will now help her adjust to a new life.

Two weeks ago, Sanchez received a bachelors of arts in communicative disorders from San Francisco State University, and she was given the university’s Outstanding Leader award for 2012.

In a few weeks, Sanchez will be packing her bags for the University of Arizona to pursue a doctorate in audiology.

She’s excited about her upcoming move but also a little nervous, she admits. Living exclusively in San Francisco may be a poor primer for Tucson, she said. The Bay Area is where everyone she knows lives.

She would love to come back to the Bay Area after graduate school, to be near family and friends.

For her, work is anything but solitary. This is actually her trick.

“Finding that extracurricular or volunteer [activity], or sport, whatever it is, connects you not only with what you want to do but with the people around you. And you gain friends,” she said.

“When you just come to school, go home, come to school, go home, you don’t really connect.”

In high school, a friend suggested she try working with special education students. By the time she applied to college in 2008, she had clocked 350 hours as a teacher’s assistant at Lowell High School, and loved every minute of it.

“It was just easy for me to communicate with them, I had fun, the kids had fun,” she said. “It felt good to help others and know that you could actually make a difference in someone else’s life.”

Sanchez enjoyed teaching so much that she chose it as her major.

By her junior year at San Francisco State University, Sanchez was working 10 volunteer hours a week, most at the Hearing and Speech Center of Northern California, a San Francisco nonprofit clinic for auditory and speech disorders. By senior year she was clocking 14 hours a week and never dipping below nine semester units, while maintaining a 3.74 grade point average.

It was through her volunteer work at the Hearing and Speech Center that Sanchez discovered her real joy: working directly with patients.

“When you diagnose hearing loss in a baby, the family needs counseling about what to do,” she said. “And also with the elderly, who as they age have problems with hearing, a lot of them need counseling about using hearing aids in their everyday life.”

She said she could see herself working in a clinic like the Hearing and Speech Center.

“My favorite memories have been translating for parents, and explaining to them the process of hearing evaluation and what resources are available for their children.”

For Sanchez, Arizona’s large Spanish-speaking population is a draw.

“What appealed to me most was that they go into Mexico a couple times a year to do low-cost hearing evaluation and give hearing aids to people there who can’t afford them,” she said, referring to the University of Arizona’s Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences Department.

Before she pulls up roots for Arizona, Sanchez hopes to do some reading, spend time with family and relax. That means watching the TV show “Lost” from beginning to end again.

Though she worries about the move far from home, she looks to her faith to help her. If all else fails, she said, she’ll just bury herself in schoolwork.

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  1. You go girl! Si se puede, you are a role model for young Latinas.