Esteban Ferrero Botero of Manizales Colombia graduated this spring, but he received a $7,500 Postgraduate Scholarship from the NCAA, the only one awarded to a Montana student-athlete during the 2010-11 school year; a $5,000 scholarship from the Lambda Alpha national honor society for anthropology majors, the only one awarded in the United States in 2011; and a $5,000 scholarship from the national honor society Phi Kappa Phi, one of 57 awarded in the nation this year.
"Esteban has truly been an outstanding student in the University Honors Program. He graduated summa cum laude from the Honors Program this May, in addition to completing all the requirements of his major and balancing the demands of being a student athlete," said Ilse-Mari Lee, director of the University Honors Program.
"Sometimes it is hard to believe that this is all contained in one person," Lee continued. "He is most deserving of all three prestigious awards. We have no doubt that a brilliant future awaits Esteban in graduate school and beyond."
Larry Carucci, a professor in MSU's Department of Sociology and Anthropology and Ferrero Botero's faculty adviser, said, "He's a great student. He is easy to work with. I think his greatest asset is that he is not only smart, but he is really motivated."
Ferrero Botero said he will use the three scholarships to help pay his way through graduate school at the University of California-San Diego. He plans to earn a master's degree in Latin American studies with an emphasis on anthropology. He then hopes to work six months and then spend six months in India, perhaps living in a Buddhist temple, before pursuing his doctoral degree.
Noting that anthropology is both fulfilling and challenging, Ferrero Botero said Colombia is a country of economic disparity. Wanting to understand the reasons behind the disparity and wanting to do more than just give money led him to study anthropology, he said.
Ferrero Botero involved himself in a number of anthropological studies as an undergraduate. He was one of two MSU students chosen to go to Hawaii during the summer of 2010 with Carucci to study diabetes and obesity among the Enewetak-Ujelang people. Carucci said the Enewetak-Ujelang suffered greatly because of U.S. nuclear testing after World War II and started migrating from the Marshall Islands to Hawaii in 1991. The Marshall Islands lie about 2,500 miles southwest of Hawaii.
Ferrero Botero has also studied the indigenous Wayuu people of northern Colombia, male migrant workers in Montana, and Buddhists in Bozeman. He has participated in archaeology digs in the Mayan ruins of Belize.
"I love archaeology, but I started studying cultural anthropology," Ferrero Botero said. "I liked both, but I decided to go with cultural anthropology because I could have more effect on today's society. I see it as a possible way I can help people or do something good for society. It's my contribution to benefit society."
Ferrero Botero grew up in the Andes Mountains, the youngest of three sons in a family of tennis players. His mother is also a retired architect who now manages a cell phone store. His father is a retired civil engineer. His oldest brother just earned a doctorate in quantum physics, and the middle brother earned a degree in electrical engineering and started his own business.
Ferrero Botero started playing tennis at age five and eventually played one year for a community college in Oregon and three years at MSU. While at MSU, Ferrero Botero was also an honors student who belonged to Mortar Board, Phi Kappa Phi and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. He was a teacher's assistant and research assistant. He was vice president of MSU's chapter of the National Society for Collegiate Scholars and participated in blood drives and cancer drives. This spring, he received the Val G. Glynn Award for his leadership, scholarship and contributions to MSU.
"He always puts maximum effort into everything he does," Carucci said. "That obviously pays off for students who have high skills to begin with."
Carucci added that Ferrero Botero was one of his dream students. He said Ferrero Botero was one of about a dozen students Carucci has taught in 26 years at MSU who were very highly motivated and did extremely well because they had talent and learned what they needed to do to expand their abilities and have exciting futures.
Ferrero Botero said trying to succeed as a student-athlete was challenging, but it taught him how to work toward a goal and the importance of making sacrifices in order to reach those goals. It allowed him to represent MSU and taught him the value of working with a team. It taught him how to find a balance between what he is and what he wants to achieve.
"It was definitely worth all the sacrifice and all the practice," he said of his time as an MSU tennis player. "I only have great memories about it."
Evelyn Boswell, (406) 994-5135 or firstname.lastname@example.org