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Love of snow motivates CMC student from Honduras

Suzie Romig
Special to the Daily
Ski area operations student Roger Espinoza, posing with some of the learning equipment at the CMC Timberline Campus, was selected to receive the Vail Resorts Ski Area Operations Diversity Scholarship. Photo by Lori Meurs
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College student Roger Espinoza saw snow for the first time at age 10, and he fell in love with it.

He decided to devote his professional career to the fluffy white stuff. Espinoza received a big boost in that direction as the current recipient of the Vail Resorts Ski Area Operations Diversity Scholarship. The scholarship covers two years’ tuition, books and fees to study in the ski area operations (SAO) program at Colorado Mountain College in Leadville.

“I love snow, and I want to be around it forever. SAO will make sure that happens,” said Espinoza, age 19, a snowboarder who also teaches private lessons for Vail Resorts.

Vail Resorts Echo – Vail Resorts’ corporate stewardship program that encompasses its charitable giving, environmental stewardship initiatives and employee volunteerism – provided grant funds for the scholarship to promote diversity in the ski industry and in the college student body. The scholarship is aimed at opening doors to higher education for qualified, underserved high school graduates. Applicants must maintain a minimum grade point average, complete seven credit hours of paid work at Vail Resorts and be a resident of Summit, Lake or Eagle counties.

As a child, Espinoza had a much different life from his high-elevation adolescent and teen years in Leadville. He lived with his grandmother and often worked on his uncle’s coffee farm at sea level near a jungle area in Honduras. Since Espinoza was 2 years old, his single mom worked as a housekeeper in the U.S. to help support his family, including his two older brothers.

“We did have a poor upbringing, but that was my motivation to actually be somebody and help my family,” said Espinoza, who came to the U.S. nine years ago not knowing a word of English.

At Lake County High School he earned good grades, was active in the National Honor Society and was named captain of the conference-winning soccer team for two years. He started at Colorado Mountain College by taking a concurrent-enrollment algebra class while in high school, earning college and high school credit simultaneously.

Espinoza is the first in his family to attend college. When he learned about winning the generous scholarship, he thought, “I felt all my hard work had paid off.”

Allen Burch, Upward Bound coordinator at Colorado Mountain College in Leadville, has known Espinoza since teaching eighth-grade language arts at Lake County Middle School.

“It’s a real plus for Vail to have such an ambassador to the high county,” Burch said. “He’s a real leader academically and athletically. He’s a positive peer role model. Even at a young age he was a gentleman, always a hard worker and intellectually sharp.”

The student’s goals include finishing his Associate of Applied Science degree at Colorado Mountain College, working in Colorado and then traveling to work in terrain park or grooming operations across the world. When he is not in school, Espinoza said, “I can be found anywhere there is snow on the surface of the ground, and if I am not there you will find me on a soccer field.”


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