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Walter Sanders: Mr. TCU, campus activist, leader and friend

Senior Walter Sanders III has committed his years at TCU toward campus growth, community bonding and social justice. Courtesy of Walter Sanders.

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Walter Sanders III and I did not have the greatest first impressions of one another when we met back in the summer of 2010. However, soon after our first confrontation, I quickly realized that Walter Sanders III was one of the most devoted and charismatic individuals that I have ever met.

On April 23, I had the opportunity to sit down and revisit Sanders’ history here at the university discussing his work in the community, academics, organizational involvement and, most importantly, his character and style. Since graduating from Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Fort Worth as a Community Scholar, Sanders has gone nonstop contributing to the Fort Worth community and the university. His personal magnetism has allowed him to connect with anyone and everyone as well as his ability to lead and connect individuals with those that can help them pursue their dreams.

A great influence himself, Sanders sees Brittany Richards, a 2010 graduate, and Darron Turner, assistant vice chancellor for Student Affairs, as his greatest motivators that led him toward success here at the university over the past several years.

“[Turner] was my biggest influence. He’s what I aspire to be like,” Sanders, an accounting major, said.

Sanders attributes his professional and networking skills that he has gained to the Neeley Fellows program, which has provided him with the foundation of business expertise. In addition, Neeley Fellows took him on his first out-of-state trip to New York and on his first study aboard opportunity in Chile. His professionalism can furthermore be traced to his role as president of the Word of Truth Gospel Choir, member of the Chancellor’s Leadership Program and an Orientation Staff Assistant Director.

In the community, Sanders often makes time to contribute to organizations and events that focus on service to unrepresented populations, of which he has noted his favorite to be 2011’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service where he worked with disabled people in the area.

“It allowed me to interact with a group of people, the physically handicapped, that I’m not normally able or have the opportunity to interact with,” Sanders said.

Other service-related measures Sanders has been a part of include TCU LEAPS, in which he has participated all four years at TCU, and he has been a site leader several times.

As Mr. TCU, a well deserved title, Sanders expressed his thankfulness at receiving the award and attributed it to his work over the years. He said that his receiving the award was a testament that people have in fact noticed his activities and work that he had been committed to.

After graduation, Sanders plans to attend the university’s master of accounting program and afterward become a Certified Public Accountant while working for a regional accounting firm.

His long term goals, however, include becoming a professional gospel singer and opening a nonprofit gospel studio to help students who lack the available and essential resources to become successful.

“Many talented people do not have the opportunity to cultivate their natural gifts,” he said.

What should be noted here, more than his leadership responsibilities, more than his organizational involvement and community service, is his personal style. No matter the time of day, weather or situation, I cannot remember a time when Sanders has not been cordial, kind and charismatic.

It simply does not do Sanders justice to summarize his experiences and contributions to this community in a one-page article.

However, I do hope that those on this campus can take something from Sanders’ legacy as a leader, scholar, educator and professional in order to make their own stamp on the university’s campus and to make their own legacy.

“I’ve accomplished a lot, but it wasn’t easy. If someone can accomplish what I have and with less sleepless nights, then I say, go for it,” Sanders said.

Jonathan L. Davis is a junior political science and psychology double major from Niagara Falls, Ontario.

This story was corrected to show Ricahrds' graduation date and Walters' Mr. TCU standing. 

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