A native of San Luis Potosi, Mexico, Matilde Sanchez grew up in Santa Barbara, California and pursued her formal education at University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB). She holds an M.A. in Education and teaches English, ESL, and Mexican folk dance at Oxnard College. In addition to her studies in reading, linguistics, and dance at UCSB, she studied folklórico dance at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico (UNAM), the National Institute of Fine Arts (INBA) and the school for the Ballet Folklórico de Mexico in Mexico City.
Mati began her teaching profession at Santa Barbara City College. This stepping-stone early in her career propelled her to advance her journey as an educator to what now has been an enriching career stemming four-decades at Oxnard College. She is a highly esteemed professor and colleague, and a wonderful asset to students that have taken her courses in pursuit of personal growth and higher education. Undoubtedly, the number of students she has influenced over the years tally into the hundreds, if not thousands.
Mati holds her faith, and dear family, very close to her heart and in first place. A close second, her passion for dance. She credits her late father, Edmundo Sanchez, “who shared his love of dance with me and instilled the joy of dancing huapangos huastecos from my home state, San Luis Potosi,” Mati said. Originating from a home rich in music and dance, and at the enthusiastic request of her students, Mati launched the Ballet Folklórico Mestizo club in the spring semester of 1981. During these past 38 years and independent from her “day job”, she has simultaneously given her time freely as the director and choreographer of the Oxnard College Ballet Folklórico Mestizo while raising a family. For the last 10 years, Mati has had her daughter, Vanessa Barragan, working at her side assisting in directing the group.
Steadfast and with 20/20 vision, Mati continues to stay true to her mission: to promote the Mexican culture through music and dances. The importance of that vision is constant and organically resonates in each member of the group, both past and present. What initiated as a student club has developed into a respected organization with a large following in Ventura County. Under Mati’s direction, the group members are able to dance their way into the hearts of supporters, families, community members while sharing the beauty and richness of the Mexican culture.
The Ballet Folklórico Mestizo performs year-round at countless community and school events, including participation in the Rebozo Festival for several years, and every spring hold their annual performance in April at Oxnard College’s Performing Arts Center. The amount of commitment and time dedicated by Mati and the dancers are countless; however, it is all well worth the positive response and impact the group has on the community. Mati’s strong belief in making dance available for all, motivated her to develop a Mexican folk dance class as part of the Oxnard College curriculum. This in turn has provided opportunities for students and community members to enroll and partake in the joy of folklórico dance.
Mati continues to serve others diligently in her roles as professor, colleague, director, mother, daughter, sister and friend, and does so faithfully with her skills and passions.