Penn GSE CMSI

Mayra "Kahori" Vidana Sanchez

Mayra “Kahori” Vidana Sanchez serves as an official ambassador of the University of Texas in El Paso (UTEP) at various events and conferences, where she portrays academic and professional leadership to her community and university. Being an officer of the University Honors Council student body, which officially represents the Honors Program of her school, Kahori is in charge of reminding members to remain focused on academics without forgetting to maintain a balanced and healthy social and athletic life. Kahori manages this by organizing dance classes, facilitating social gatherings, and monitoring athletic integration.

Although she was born in El Paso, Texas, Kahori spent most of her childhood in Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. When she was around 12, she moved to El Paso to assimilate into the United States for academic purposes. Technically a U.S citizen, Kahori came to the United States knowing little-to-no English, thus making it difficult yet not impossible for her to adapt. To do so, she carried a pocket dictionary to fully absorb the language and culture, and she practiced English by reading and writing every day. Attending school in Mexico, and being denied schooling numerous times if she arrived late, Kahori quickly learned that education was not easily accessible in her home country, yet she felt it was an obligation she still had to fulfill. Thus, when arriving to the United States, she took joy in learning the measures and accommodations that she encountered, allowing her to fully absorb and grow from this academic and later professional privilege.

Being bilingual, Kahori was able to work at the Office of International Programs at UTEP as a Front Desk Assistant, and she was able to develop professionalism on a deeper level that required face-to-face interactions with students and community members. Kahori was also joyful to develop a good work ethic by working at McDonald’s, a job that she is proud to be part of. There, she learned how to manage her money and save enough to buy herself her first car. As a seventeen-year-old, Kahori was proud to say she worked hard to reward herself with a mode of transportation for later productive use.

As an alumna Junior Army ROTC cadet, Kahori is proud to carry and depict the values of the United States’ service—integrity, respect, and duty—in her everyday life. As a sergeant and first lieutenant in her early years in the United States, Kahori was able to illustrate and teach these values by sharpening cadets for numerous tasks through disciplinary actions. It was due to these practices and her education at home that she was able to exhibit confidence and enthusiasm about her leadership ethics as captain of soccer and ROTC Physical Fitness teams.

Kahori is currently a sophomore studying to become a math educator, and she works as a collegiate mentor at Horizon High School located in Horizon City, Texas. She happily assists students with motivational and academic guidance to pursue higher education. Kahori’s greatest determination is to give others the accessibility to educational excellence, because to her, education is essential for progress for a global society. Kahori’s personal narrative was recently featured in The Atlantic.