Rivaldo Francisco is quiet, but don’t let his reticence fool you. It’s his work ethic, big dreams, and sharp intellect that does all the talking.
Growing up in Alamosa, Colorado, it was those three things that got him out of the San Luis Valley and up to Western Colorado University, where he’s now a sophomore with straight As in the Mechanical Engineering program.
As someone who always likes to tinker with things, it’s a major that suits him. “I’ve always liked building things and learning how things work and really just the intricacies of everything,” Francisco said. “And I’ve always been pretty good at math.” After he graduates, he’d like to work in the automotive industry.
Although he was accepted to seven colleges and could have had his pick, he chose Western because of the opportunities it provided through its partnership program with CU Boulder and because Gunnison offered something different than what he’d known his entire childhood.
“I didn’t know anyone who came here before, but I toured Western in middle school. Then I just remembered it and heard about the Rady program’s partnership with CU Boulder. I thought it was pretty interesting because CU Boulder has one of the top mechanical engineering degrees in the country,” he said. “The other thing that brought me here was the scholarships and price.”
From San Luis Valley to Mechanical Engineering Excellence
His hard work in high school paid off when he received the Rady Merit Scholarship, along with several others, owing to his good grades and status as a first-generation university student. Together, the scholarships covered almost all his tuition. “That was definitely one of the major things that got me here,” he said.
While everyone who invests their time and money in higher education wants to succeed, perhaps no one appreciates the opportunity more than first-generation students like Francisco. As the eldest son of parents who moved to the U.S. from Guatemala, he knows he is the pride of his family.
His father, who works as a technician at the Monte Vista Coop, and his mother, who stayed home to raise her two daughters, Rivaldo and, eventually, her nephew, have high hopes for their son. “My mom’s been praying for me a lot,” he said. “They just want me to do good so I can travel around and do what I want.”
In addition to his scholarships, Francisco maintains 10 hours of work-study each week in the University’s Multicultural Center, where his supervisor, Director Sally Romero, says he exceeds the expectations she has for her students.
“Rivaldo is a true gift to the Multicultural Center and to the greater WCU campus. He has a gentle and kind demeanor while still being intelligent, insightful, and respectful. Rivaldo is the epitome of integrity. What a wonderful balance in such a young man,” Romero said. “His work ethic and ‘can-do’ attitude is refreshing. This young man is going to do great things!”