Ricardo Sanchez, the global lead for veterans issues at Bristol Myers Squibb, supports Rutgers programs for veterans and Latin American studies with financial gifts and his time.
When Ricardo Sanchez returned home after serving seven years in the U.S. Marine Corps—including assignments in Pakistan, Congo, and Portugal—he decided not to go far from home for college. “I chose Rutgers because it was close to where I grew up,” says Sanchez SAS’16, a native of Colombia who immigrated to the U.S. at the age of five and grew up in Elizabeth, New Jersey.
After reaching the rank of sergeant and earning military decorations, he was honorably discharged from the Marines and enrolled at Rutgers–New Brunswick in 2013. It didn’t take Sanchez long to embrace the university and all it had to offer. “I quickly learned how amazing Rutgers was,” he says.
Sanchez double majored in political science and Latin American studies, and soon became active at the Rutgers Veterans House in New Brunswick, where he later landed a work-study position. He cherished the diversity of the campus, meeting many fellow veterans and first-generation and immigrant students.
“When I got out and I came to Rutgers, I found community,” he says. “I found people who had so many of my shared experiences of both being a Latino, and being a Latino veteran.”
With Rutgers’ help, Sanchez landed his first corporate internship, a position at Bristol Myers Squibb that lasted for a year following his graduation from Rutgers with honors in 2016. After being awarded a full scholarship to graduate school at American University, where he earned a master’s in U.S. foreign policy and national security, Sanchez returned to Bristol Myers Squibb’s Washington, D.C. office in a full-time consultant role in 2019. He soon became associate director of U.S. policy and government affairs.
Since June, Sanchez has served as global lead for Bristol Myers Squibb’s Veterans Community Network, a two-year assignment that includes advocating for hiring, retaining, and supporting other veterans causes at the pharmaceutical giant that has more than 30,000 employees worldwide. He credits his education and influences at Rutgers for helping him achieve the leadership role. “If it wasn't for my experience with Rutgers and the Rutgers veterans program, I doubt I would be here,” he says. “It gave me a really well-rounded experience.”
He relishes his current role of supporting veterans, a cause near and dear to his heart. He says he benefited from such support and later practiced it as a supervisor in his work-study role at the Rutgers Veterans House. “The Rutgers veterans program is second to none in my opinion,” he says. “They are the reason why I was able to graduate with honors from Rutgers and be able to get a full ride scholarship to grad school.”
Now that Sanchez is established in his career, he gives back to Rutgers with his time in speaking to students and through financial gifts to the Scarlet Service veterans internship program and to the Latin American studies program. “I'm always big about giving back to my community,” he says. “One of the first places that I said I was going to give back is to Rutgers because it was pivotal for me being able to figure out who I am and get started in my career.”
Sanchez is looking forward to Veterans Day, which he says he celebrates “like it’s my birthday.” He enjoys bonding with other veterans as well as showing respect for those who have served before. “It fills me with pride,” he says. “I appreciate what my sisters and my brothers have done in the past. I see a veteran anywhere and we speak to each other as if we had known each other for years. Veterans Day is a great way to extend that camaraderie.”