By Steve Klodt
During a trip to Nicaragua, Chris Escobar and his grandmother visited a law school in León – the school where his grandfather had studied law. Soon after, the two were standing over his grandfather’s grave.
Something crystalized for Escobar.
“Sometimes in a given moment it just comes to you,” he said. “I promised my grandpa I would go to law school, just like he did.”
Escobar will soon keep that promise. He graduates this May with a 3.99 GPA, one of the top students in his class and recipient of the President’s Award. His next stop is law school.
But the journey there hasn’t come without hesitant steps and some doubt.
Escobar grew up in Denver. His father and paternal grandparents were Nicaraguan refugees who had escaped a violent revolution. They left behind professional careers and arrived in the United States unable to speak English.
His mother is from Washington. “Both parents started from the bottom and have advanced themselves to have successful careers due to their hard work,” he said. They had a huge influence on him, and he wanted to follow their example.
Escobar was interested in college, but getting a degree seemed unlikely. “I barely graduated high school,” he said. “My classmates generally thought I would never amount to much.” His higher education choices were limited, but MSU Denver was willing to accept him.
Like many first-year students, he was undecided about a major and a career to pursue. But, he knew one thing: “I wanted something better for myself.”
Early on at MSU Denver, he planned to transfer. “When it came down to actually transferring, I didn’t want to,” he said. “I felt confident in the education I was getting here; I never felt the need to change. I think MSU Denver students are some of the hardest working people you’ll ever meet.”
Escobar became a political science major with an economics minor. In addition to classwork, he played rugby, wrote for the Met student newspaper, and was one of eight MSU Denver students to attend the Model United Nations (as the Latvian representative). He also has worked part time for a marketing company and as a law intern.
A professor wrote in his President’s Award recommendation letter: “I have been a professor for 35 years and have taught almost 9,000 students. Very few have made as good an impression as Chris. I do not exaggerate when I say that he ranks in the top 1 percent of all the students I have known.”
When Escobar dons cap and gown and sits on the commencement podium, he said he’ll be thinking of “those who helped me through it all, such as my family, friends and professors. Each played a different, but vital role.”
“It’s a huge honor to have been selected for the President’s Award,” he added. “For me, it’s a validation for everything I’ve done the last four years, growing into the person I am now. I'm eager to embark on my next journey.”
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