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Northwest Missouri State University

News Release

April 8, 2015

Social driver founder, alumnus to address spring graduates

Thomas Sanchez

Thomas Sanchez

Thomas Sanchez – an innovator, entrepreneur and 2002 alumnus of Northwest Missouri State University – will address graduates and their families during the University’s spring commencement ceremonies, Saturday, May 2.

The founder and CEO of Social Driver, Sanchez was named a 2015 Minority Business Leader alongside BET co-founder Sheila Johnson by the Washington Business Journal, and Social Driver was celebrated as a “50 on Fire” winner by DCInno in 2013.

“We are excited for spring graduates as they’ll hear from a passionate Bearcat,” Northwest President Dr. John Jasinski said. “Thomas runs a compelling company driven by values, focused on people and not satisfied with being passengers - they are drivers. This Bearcat spirit is playing out vividly as the company¹s growth and multiple successes show how Bearcats connect.”

Growing up on a farm in DeKalb County, Mo., Sanchez was empowered by his family’s encouragement and a computer from his uncle to teach himself to code. He soon realized, through technology, how he and others could achieve things that had seemed unimaginable a few short years ago. Whether building businesses, mentoring young entrepreneurs or working with clients, Thomas evangelizes his beliefs that the future is bright, progress is social and the drivers make history.

As founder and CEO of Social Driver, an award-winning digital innovation agency with offices across the United States, Sanchez has built a company that delivers creative digital and social media solutions for leading companies including Honda, and Cerner. Under his leadership, Social Driver has been called the seventh fastest-growing agency in the United States by Agency 100 and as one of “DC’s Coolest Companies.” His agency’s collaborative culture, cutting-edge Pop-Up Innovation Labs and client success stories have been featured on the BBC, CBS and in The Wall Street Journal.

Like many Northwest graduates, Thomas began his career at Cerner Corporation, leading new initiatives around the world. His views about how technology impacts the workforce were included in “The 2020 Workplace” by Jeanne Meister, and he mentors young entrepreneurs as a judge for The George Washington University Business Plan Competition, a contest his team won in 2011.

Northwest will honor degree recipients of the graduate school and the Melvin D. and Valorie G. Booth College of Business and Professional Studies during a ceremony at 10 a.m. Degree recipients of the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Education and Human Services will be honored during a 2 p.m. ceremony. Both ceremonies are in Bearcat Arena.

More than 940 students are expected to graduate during Northwest’s spring commencement ceremonies. More than 640 students from Northwest’s three colleges will receive bachelor's degrees while an additional 300 candidates are expected to receive master's degrees, education specialist degrees or certifications through the University's graduate school.

Due to the number of graduates, tickets are required for admission to the ceremony. Graduates will receive six tickets. To accommodate guests unable to attend the ceremony, Northwest will offer a live online stream of the ceremony, which will be accessible at   

Graduates along with their families and friends also are invited to interact with Northwest’s social media before, during and after the commencement ceremonies. Users may share their graduation memories on Twitter by using the hashtag #NWGrad, or submit graduation photos to Northwest’s Flickr feed. Photos can be taken with a mobile phone and sent to Submitted photos will appear immediately on Northwest’s Flickr page at

Candidates for graduation may pick up caps and gowns at the Student Services Center on the first floor of the Administration Building from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday, April 27, through Friday, May 1, or one hour prior to each ceremony on May 2.

Complete details about spring commencement at Northwest are posted on the Senior Spot Web site,

For more information, please contact:

Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager | 660.562.1704 | Fax: 660.562.1900

Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468