Although Bernard “Ben” William Sanchez Jr. is only a junior at Brother Martin High School, already he has made a great impact in many aspects of his community and the communities of others. For the past three years, Sanchez attended mission trips to one of the poorest Navajo regions in Arizona. The group stayed with the Brothers of Sacred Heart Mission in Klagetoh, Ariz. and worked with the locals.

“These trips have been my most rewarding volunteer experience because I get to see first-hand the poverty and anguish of the people living in our great country, and directly, rather than indirectly, I am able to help them and share my talents with them,” says Sanchez.

Sanchez has also worked with a local nonprofit organization Angel’s Place to help children diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses in need in the New Orleans Community. While working with this nonprofit organization, Sanchez helped a cancer patient’s family. A group of activists worked on creating a new game room for the family; unfortunately, the game room wasn’t finished before the passing of the patient. Sanchez and the other activists still felt like they accomplished something for the family by cherishing the memories.

“I think it is important to be involved in your community,” Sanchez says, “because you must be a missionary to yourself, your family, and your community before you can be a missionary to places outside of your community.”

Through his activism Sanchez has gained a lot of experience, “I have learned to not be ignorant of the problems of the community, to be more humble, and to appreciate the opportunities that I have. When giving back to others, I feel as though I am gaining more then I can actually give back to them.”

Sanchez is also lector at his church, St. Joan of Arc in Laplace, and is involved with the Catholic Youth Organization. He is a member of Teen Catholics Reaching Out in Selfless Service, of the Excalibur National Honor Society for Excellence in Science and of Brother Martin’s National Honor Society. He is also a part of the Welcoming Diversity Team and Brother Martin’s pro-life club Crusaders for Life.

Even though he’s active in his community and his school’s organizations, Sanchez also has time to be just a regular high school kid with big dreams. On the weekends, Sanchez enjoys riding ATVs on the Spillway, reading books and listening to music. For the future, Sanchez wants to study to become a cardiologist. When he becomes a doctor, Sanchez plans on volunteering his time at free health clinics to give healthcare to those who cannot afford it.