Alum With Heart: Giving Back on Valentine’s Day
By Marie Jacinto
Back in 2013, UHD alum Ivan Sanchez (’13) was a Political Science major and President of the Student Government Association. A night owl, Sanchez would work on projects at school until 2 or 3 a.m. and soon became friendly with the custodial staff working those same hours.
That Valentine’s Day, he decided to purchase a dozen roses to give to his new friends. He was met with reactions of joy and surprise, bringing tears to some. With guidance from Dr. Liza Alonzo, Special Assistant to the President, the tradition of Roses for Janitors was born and has grown over the last decade.
The idea became “official” in 2021, when Sanchez, President of the nationally awarded nonprofit Houston Millennials, made it part of the organization's efforts. Houston Millennials purchased 1,000 roses with the plan to add an additional 1,000 roses each year. This year, Houston Millennials delivered 3,000 roses to multiple organizations across the Houston area! The group removes the thorns from the roses and adds messages created by local high schoolers and middle schoolers.
Sanchez credits the trajectory of his life to UHD, calling it a “high-impact school” because of his experiences with the staff, faculty, and students.
Prior to heading the nonprofit, he was recruited to work for Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee. Sanchez says, “Thanks to UHD, I went from pushing carts at Kroger’s to pushing legislation in Congress.”
The main slogan for Sanchez’s nonprofit organization is “See You at the Top,” and he adds, “What is making it to the top if you don’t know how to give back?”
The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive, four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.
U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit uhd.edu.