Santi Messmacher Montes de Oca

A mind for Xs, Os, and aeronautics

September 12, 2022

Student Experience

Santi Messmacher Montes de Oca has always wanted to be an engineer like his grandfather.

“I was good at math and science, so being an engineer like him was an easy choice for me,” he said. “Writing essays was really painful, but you could sit me down in front of a math test and I would actually have fun.”

The Spider senior, originally from Mexico City, moved to Miami with his family when he was 13. He struggled to make friends until he joined the middle school football team.

“It was a different city, a different country, different language, different culture,” he said. “But the football guys took me in and gave me a sense of brotherhood and love for one another. People say all team sports have a sense of camaraderie, but in football, it's a little heightened. It's 11 guys having to work together to do the job perfectly. Someone can get hurt if you don't do your job. You're playing for them and with them beside you.”

Now, he plays on the offensive line for the Richmond Spiders.

When he’s not on the football field he can be found studying the expansion rate of the universe in the physics lab. He hopes to become an aerospace engineer and someday explore space.

“I have always been drawn to space, it sparked my imagination,” he said. “I want to find what’s out there. That’s why I want to do engineering.”

But he spent most of the past two years studying something much different: becoming a U.S. citizen. It’s something he’s been looking forward to since his family first moved to Miami.

He struggled with his identity throughout high school. Even with support from his friends on the football team and his family, he felt like he was living between two countries.

After nearly 10 years in the U.S., his hard work paid off. In the spring of 2022, he earned his citizenship.

“It took years for our house to become our home rather than just the house that we lived in,” he said. “It feels good that I'm fully part of the U.S. At the end of the day, I’m truly happy with who I am, where I am, and that I’m able to say that I'm Mexican American.”