Inspiring grads: Minerva García-Sánchez
As Minerva García-Sánchez receives her doctorate in urban education policy from the College of Education, she will have fulfilled a promise to her beloved grandfather to be the first doctor in the family.
That moment will be bittersweet because her grandfather, Adolfo Garcia, passed away in March at the age of 99.
“I felt I had betrayed him since I had promised I would be the first doctor in the family, and now he isn’t here to see me do that,” said García-Sánchez.
García-Sánchez began her quest to earn her doctorate in education “more than a decade ago,” but during that time she served as Chief of Schools for the Pilsen/Little Village Network within the Chicago Public Schools for five years. In addition, during her 26-year career at CPS, she was a school principal, assistant principal as well as a classroom teacher for seven years.
“The many reasons I had not completed it was due to promotions and movements in the district, the only adversity there was that I wanted to do my work and do it well,” she said.
In January, García-Sánchez was appointed to a three-year term as superintendent of DeKalb CUSD 428 and will take over the district in July. With her appointment, she will be the district’s first woman to be superintendent and the second person of color to hold the post since the early 2000s.
“We held rigorous interviews and sought input from all stakeholders in order to secure the best possible superintendent for our students and families. Mrs. García-Sánchez brings vast experience to DeKalb, and we are excited to welcome her to D428,” Sarah Moses, DeKalb CUSD #428 board president, said in a district press release.
During her work on her doctorate, García-Sánchez was helping raise their three sons while also working for CPS. She has a master’s degree from Chicago State University and a bachelor’s degree from Loyola University. She credits her husband for being supportive and taking over family duties when she was working on her own schooling as well as her work with CPS. With her children grown, she was able to hunker down and finish earning her doctorate.
“I am a mom and a wife first and foremost; now that my sons are in their 20s and living independently for the last three years, I found myself with more time and took advantage of completing my Ed.D.,” she said.
Over the last year, along with her grandfather’s death, she has had to deal with other tragedies, including the deaths of 17 family members and close friends due to COVID-19 and other ailments.
One of those was her aunt, Zoila Garcia, a teacher and principal at CPS who passed away in June from cancer. She served as a model and motivated her life as an educator and will continue to be her inspiration.
“She was my driver and motivator; she was my ‘I want to be like her when I grow up,'” said García-Sánchez. “I will celebrate with my friends and loved ones, virtually and in person. I will give gratitude to all of those who have stood by me and shoved me forward.”