You won’t find Eric Roberts’ name on the Dean’s List this spring as he prepares to graduate from Colorado State University. But while Roberts won’t be listed among the academic elite of the Class of 2017, you would struggle to find anyone who has gained more valuable knowledge during his journey toward graduation.
“I definitely didn’t plan on taking the path I took, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” he said.
Roberts started his seven-year journey to this moment after graduating from Doherty High School in Colorado Springs. Always a good student, he came to CSU as a business major but quickly found himself struggling.
“I really wasn’t happy with what I had chosen as a major, and that made me less motived to focus on school,” he said. “And I probably was enjoying my social life too much. I really didn’t know what to do with the freedom.”
His struggles continued until he was dismissed from CSU the following year with a 1.1 grade point average. He decided to transfer to Front Range Community College in Fort Collins, but he was still having academic trouble.
Period of uncertainty
“It was a real period of uncertainty for me – I really had no idea what I was going to do,” he said. “My parents weren’t going to pay for me to run around and have fun anymore.”
Roberts moved back in with his parents and, after a frank personal assessment, started working full-time at King Soopers and attending Pikes Peak Community College in Colorado Springs. He spent a year there, boosted his GPA, and decided to reapply to CSU.
“I wanted to finish what I had started,” he said. “I love CSU and Fort Collins, and decided this was where I needed to be.”
Everything was different this time. He had to work full-time to pay his expenses; he found a job as a night produce manager at the King Soopers at Taft Hill Road and Elizabeth Street. He still works five nights a week and crams all of his classes in on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
He found his passion in studying English, losing himself in the poetry of CSU professors Dan Beachy-Quick and Camille Dungy and finding the academic support he needed in the College of Liberal Arts.
Interestingly, the kid who failed in his first attempt at academic success plans to return for a master’s degree in organizational leadership so he can help other students find their way.
“I can’t imagine I’m the only one to go through what I’ve been through,” he said. “I mean, it’s been a long seven years for me but I made it. I want to help other students in my position – help them find success.”