From the ground up

Blog Header: From the Ground Up
Evan and his Mom hike along Horsetooth trail overlooking Fort Collins. Evan's Mom has been a guiding light in his life.

He brings his hard hat and a heart for helping others everywhere he goes.

Construction Management major and Daniels Fund Scholar Evan Torres spends much of his time building houses and communities from the ground up. He learned the value of giving back early in life from his mother. The passion she passed on to Evan for volunteering led him to become the person he is today — a leader, a builder, and an all-around outstanding guy.

His path to Daniels Fund

Blog Header: His Path to Daniels Fund
Volunteering has been a part of Evan's life since he was young. Here is helps cut homegrown lettuce for the Dining Centers on campus as part of his Eco Leader campus sustainability work.

During his senior year of high school, Evan looked at his grades and doubted he would be in the running for the Daniels Fund scholarship. After a cross-country move from New Jersey to Colorado Springs, he’d had a bumpy freshman year.

“I did really bad my freshman year because I didn’t fit in. In the whole school, I think there were three persons of color, and my brother and I were two of them,” Evan explained. “So I switched schools the next year and that school was too easy for me.”

Most might opt for the easy route, but that’s not Evan. He decided to once again change high schools.

“I made the conscious decision to switch to Coronado High School, a 35-minute drive away. It gave me more of a challenge,” he shared.

Big life changes didn’t stop Evan from pursuing his passion for community service, either. Throughout his childhood and teen years he volunteered in hospitals, in a drug prevention program, and wherever else he was needed in his community.

“In high school, my resume had two full pages of volunteer experience,” Evan recalled.

Fast forward to senior year: Evan made the decision to apply for the Daniels Fund scholarship, using those close to him for support.

“Come around application time I had help from my mother, from my older brother, from some of the counselors in my school, and from my English teacher,” Evan explained.

“My biggest piece of advice to finalists is to go into [the interview] being comfortable, knowing that you’re on top of the world because you’ve gotten this far. It will keep you going.”

Their support helped him create a strong application, which grabbed him a spot in the semifinalist and finalist round.

“I was at that last step and I had never been in interviews like that before; where it’s a whole panel asking you questions and you’re talking about yourself,” Evan recalled. “So I went in, sat down with the panel, and felt really comfortable with them.”

Evan’s confidence and ease in his interview — coupled with his impressive history of community service — landed him a Daniels Fund scholarship.

Grit and giving back

Blog Header: Grit and Giving Back
Evan and his family. His parents taught him the meaning of hard work and service.

Evan learned the meaning of grit early in life.

As the second of five children born to teen parents, he grew up watching his parents bend over backwards to make ends meet. His family was living in a two-bedroom apartment in New Jersey, and his parents wanted their kids to have a better life. So they risked it all and moved to Colorado Springs.

It wasn’t a bed of roses, but they succeeded. His parents went from high-school dropouts to college graduates with not one but two Daniels Fund Scholars in the family. And along the way they taught their kids the value of helping others. Evan’s mother was a fierce advocate for community service and instilled that value in her children.

“Growing up, my Mom would drag us to as much volunteering as she could. I mean, we weren’t doing anything else and they had free donuts,” Evan quipped. “Now giving back is my favorite thing to do.”

His parents’ values of hard work and service made an impact on Evan. As a second-year student at CSU, he spends his time working for RamEvents, studying hard in the Construction Management program, and volunteering alongside his fraternity brothers in Phi Delta Theta.

Finding his fit

Blog Header: Finding his Fit
Evan and his Phi Delta Theta brothers. The fraternity has been a great way for Evan to continue his volunteer work in college.

College wasn’t on Evan’s radar as he grew up. He planned to follow in his father’s footsteps and join the military after high school. It was when he visited CSU in high school that higher education started to seem like an option.

“During my junior year I came to CSU to do a program called the Native Education Forum,” Evan said. “It really got me thinking that college was an actual option for me.”

It was easy for him find friendly faces in Fort Collins. He remembers getting lost in the halls during his time visiting CSU and someone helped him without his even asking. He knew that a community like that was the right fit for him.

“I just felt like I belonged here. I walked in here and I didn’t have a bad experience,” Evan shared. “I know there’s always gonna be help here and that’s something I’ve always wanted in a school.”

He found it easy to continue giving back, too. Evan joined the Eco Leaders program freshman year, leading the charge in sustainability projects on campus. He also pledged to Phi Delta Theta and quickly volunteered to be the Community Service Chair, working with organizations like Habitat for Humanity, the ALS Society, and the City of Fort Collins.

“The education here has been one in a million. My major challenges me both in and out of the classroom.”

Evan is currently interning with a local construction company, JE Dunn. He plans to continue to gain professional experience and either apply for a position in a similar company after graduation or join the military. One day he plans to combine his education with his passion for helping others by working with a non-profit like Habitat for Humanity.

Jill Baylis

Jill was a staff member in the Office of Admissions until 2019 when she moved to Denver. As a first-generation college student, she focused on simplifying the college admissions process and helping future Rams find community on campus.