From Baseball to Business: Thunderbird Student Jose "Pepe" Santos
Athletics and Academics
Jose “Pepe” Santos, a Mexican national, arrived to the United States in 2011 with the dream of playing collegiate baseball while pursuing his professional career. Residing in Texas for most of his time, Pepe had always strived to excel on and off the field in order to positively influence others around him. Like many other international students, Pepe left behind his country, family, and friends to pursue a lifelong dream requiring many sacrifices. His sacrifices started paying off when he was given the opportunity to begin his collegiate career at the Junior College level where he was awarded with multiple academic and athletic awards in his first two years as a student-athlete, graduating as the Valedictorian of his class and being recognized as an Academic All-American.
Everything seemed to be in Pepe’s favor, and triumphs clearly kept coming his way after receiving a full ride to St. Edwards University in 2013. “This was one of the biggest accomplishments in my life so far, especially knowing I was representing my family and my beloved country on foreign soil; however, it taught me a life lesson I would never forget.” Unfortunately Pepe suffered a drastic injury to his right shoulder before the season started, which prevented him from playing what had been the love of his life since he was 5 years old. After being at the top, an injury followed by a removal of his full scholarship due to the incapacity to perform at 100%, created one of the biggest setbacks in his life. “I was confused and felt lost for a moment. All of the sudden it seemed that everything I have worked for was falling apart right in front of my eyes, but I knew the only thing I could do was to get back on my feet and start working in order to be prepared for another opportunity that could come around.”
After spending the summer rehabilitating and playing baseball in Healdsburg, California, Pepe was offered the chance to join Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. The consistent hard work and dedication in the classroom allowed him to expand his options, and he decided to focus on pursuing strong academics as a priority. Trinity University not only provided him with this, but also with the opportunity of joining a top-notch collegiate team led by National Coach of the Year awardee Tim Scannell. During his time at Trinity Pepe lead the Trinity Tigers onto winning two consecutive Regional Championships, and their first ever National Championship. He became the first individual from Mexico City to attend both the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania in 2003 and to win a National title at the collegiate level in 2016. “During this time I understood that no matter when, or what, we have to be prepared for when the opportunities in life present themselves, regardless of our success or challenges in the past. As an individual we can’t ever take anything for granted, and it is crucial to understand everyone out there is fighting their own battles. Understand, and know, on and off the field it is about playing for the letters across your chest, and not for the number on your back. That is what true leadership is.”
A New Direction
Pepe’s experiences throughout his first years in the U.S. led him to apply to ASU's Thunderbird School of Global Management after realizing the importance of diversity in a globalized economy. “Having to relocate a few times gave me the opportunity to meet people from different states within the U.S., whom had a variety of backgrounds, ideologies, and goals. I wanted this same experience, but from people all over the world to truly understand the meaning of diversity. Thunderbird provides me with a top-ranked graduate degree taught by world-class faculty, along with the chance of meeting people from every continent in the world. I am lucky to call myself a T-bird!” Pepe has continued to excel in the classroom, as well as out of the classroom involving himself in leadership positions in the main organizations on campus, Honor Council, Campus Ambassadors, and the Student Government.
Jose holds a B.S. in International Business from Trinity University and is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Global Affairs & Management at Thunderbird School of Global Management. In addition, he completed a certificate program in Politics and Economics of International Energy from Sciences Po, Moral Foundation of Politics from Yale, and is working towards finishing one in Economic Policy Making. His professional preparation provided him with the opportunity to work in Washington D.C. alongside of experts from the World Bank, USAID, and Government officials, which he defines as one of the most wonderful experiences in his life. “I would have never imagined I would visit the Capital of the World growing up, let alone work there. It was truly an experience that showed me it is only a dream if you are sleeping.”
Read about another T-bird with a baseball connection: D-backs Exec Says Global Mindset Is the Difference Maker