ADI Spotlight: Jaime Sánchez, Jr.

March 23, 2022

Jaime Sánchez, Jr.
(He/Him)

Department: History
Program Year: G5
Undergraduate Institution: University of Chicago
Hometown: Fresno, CA
ADI Affiliations:

  • Diversity Fellow (former)
  • Former LGSA (Latino Graduate Student Association) President

 

Tell us about your background.

Much of my personality stems from being the oldest sibling of four boys. I had to learn to deal with a lot of responsibility at an early age, especially growing up in a low-income immigrant household. Being the oldest also meant I had to chart my own course without a clear example to follow. My parents are originally from the state of Michoacán in Mexico, so most of my life has been a series of firsts: first born in America, first to learn English, first to attend college, and very soon the first PhD.

 

 

What are your research interests?  What excites you about it?

I have always been interested in politics, and before graduate school I gained experience in local government, on Capitol Hill, the labor movement, and the 2016 Democratic presidential campaign. But deeper questions about the long trajectory of American society and politics led me toward my current academic path. As a historian of the modern U.S., I now explore the intersection of identity, coalition building, and electoral politics in my dissertation on the history of the Democratic National Committee. People often say ‘the past is prologue,’ and I think that is definitely true about American politics because there are many lessons we can learn from history to help us build a more just and inclusive future.

 

What does your family think you do in grad school?

I’ve tried to explain to my family that school is my job—I’m a professional student. I get paid to read a lot, think a lot, and write a really long project that will eventually become a book. I explain it again to them about once a month.

 

How has ADI programming impacted you? 

The ADI team and programming has brought an incredible sense of community to my graduate experience at Princeton, which can be very isolating if you let it be. The deans and staff are incredible, and the food is always plentiful.

 

What's been most helpful to you in acclimating to Princeton?

The idea of achieving a work-life balance is talked about so much that I feel it is almost cliché, but it has been essential for my success at Princeton. Living in a small college town is a wonderful experience, but the work can really take up your entire life. To balance that, I took plenty of time away from campus visiting my partner in D.C. and spend breaks visiting my family and friends. The key lesson here is to leave your desk.

 

What activities do you engage in beyond research?

I am a pro home cook and baker. I love to learn and try out new recipes all the time. This past year I perfected homemade cinnamon rolls, brownies, and jiggly cheesecake all from scratch.

 

How would your friends describe you? 

My friends would describe me as someone who is easy to find in a crowd, facilitated by the fact that I am a six-foot-five Mexican.

 

What book, show, podcast, game, song, or movie best reflects your grad school experience?

Pursuing a doctorate is sort of like binge watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy all in one sitting: it takes forever so you need be fully committed for the journey.

 

What should the ADI community know about you?

My racial-ethnic identity is incredibly important for me in all aspects of my life. As a Latino and Mexican American, my personal background gives me a unique perspective that enriches my scholarship, political commitments, and broader worldview. But this sense of identity also requires community to sustain and nourish it. I have enjoyed helping build this community at Princeton as a former Diversity Fellow and LGSA president, and the payoff has been well worth it.