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By Richard Burnett

After years of hard work to see if he even belonged in school, German Escobar arrived in his first year at Beacon College, wary about attending a custom-made place for students with learning difficulties.

“I’d say it was not an idea I was particularly fond of at first,” said Escobar, who had symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity since he was a child. “At that point, I thought that maybe college just wasn’t for me. So, I thought about quitting. But my mom told me I should give it a chance, go for a semester and see what happened. So that’s what I did….”

Fast forward to today, and the 2019 Beacon graduate can smile at those uncertain early days. His experience on campus and in the classroom proved to be transformative — turning the shy introvert into a poised scholar and friend to many.

Neurodiverse-Alum-German-Escobar-Army-Mountains Now at age 25, he serves as an intelligence analyst for the U.S. Army, putting his humanities degree to good use — especially his knowledge of history, political science, and psychology — in working for the nation’s defense. He recently visited the campus ahead of his posting at his next duty station at Camp Vilseck in Germany, where is he attached to the 2d Cavalry Regiment, which according to its website provides “V Corps and U.S. Army Europe and Africa with a lethal, agile force capable of rapid deployment throughout the EUCOM area of responsibility in order to assure allies, deter adversaries, and when ordered, defend the NATO Alliance.”

“In this job that I hold in the military, there’s an emphasis on analysis,” said Escobar, from Winter Garden, Florida. “As an intel analyst, I gather information from different disciplines and fields and use it together to create a picture. Part of that information involves things like cultural knowledge and political knowledge — things that I learned about at Beacon. So that helps me better understand my job.”

Leaving a lasting impression

At Beacon, he left a lasting impression on friends and faculty — a serious but friendly and popular student, who was perceptive in the classroom.

“He is a very deep thinker and always considered every viewpoint and perspective before making a decision,” said Dr. A.J. Marsden, associate professor of human services and psychology. “He was well liked by his peers, always prepared, and nailed the oral debates we had in class.”

Marsden recalled when Escobar told her he wanted to join the Army. As an Army veteran herself, she encouraged his decision: “I felt it would be a good environment for German to thrive in, but also that he would bring a unique perspective to his unit. So, it would be a win-win situation.”

Dr. Christopher Huff remembered Escobar as a strong student, especially in his class on the Holocaust.

“He really stood out in that class,” said Huff, an associate professor history and a former firearms instructor in the U.S. Air Force. “It’s so good to hear that he’s using what he learned in his humanities studies in the job he’s doing now. It’s something we stress at Beacon that, in any job, you need the skill to pull information from a variety of different perspectives, so you’re not just dealing with one viewpoint.”

Smart, loving and full of curiosity

Escobar’s parents beam with pride in their son. They joined him in a recent visit to Beacon’s campus and talked about how pleased they are with his accomplishments. His mother, Maryori Escobar, recalled German’s lonely, but hyperactive childhood — a smart, loving boy full of curiosity and anxiety.

“He enjoyed many things, like science, geography, art, and the outdoors,” she said. “We were very careful to help him manage his anxiety. He was always anxious, but he was always very kind, obedient and sweet. He was a very nice boy. But in school, he was lonely, very lonely.”

Only at Beacon did he open up and learn to make friends, and that changed his life, his mother said. “He was comfortable within the family, but outside, he never had too many friends,” she recalled. But when he came here to Beacon, he was more social.

“We are very proud of him,” his mother said, about Escobar joining the Army. “It was tough for him, especially the physical part, but we always taught him to do his best in everything you do. Now he’s very happy, and we are happy for him.”

Like coming home

For Escobar, finding his niche in the Army is similar in some ways to how he found his place in higher education at Beacon. After some frustrating years at a previous college, coming to Beacon was like coming home.

“I just remember how relaxed it felt,” he said. “I finally felt like there was a path I could see that was laid out academically for me. I knew where it started, where it finished, and what I had to do to get there. It was just more accessible, and it would work for me, if I did the work to get there.”

Likewise, in the military, Escobar can see a path that leads to success — including more training, more expertise, higher rank, better pay, and more responsibility. Already, he’s cleared basic training, nailed his marksmanship test, and passed advanced individual training. Not bad for someone who has come so far, even with his neurodivergent challenges.

“The military presents a good opportunity to you, [whether] you’re neurodivergent or not,” he said. “But it really kind of comes down to a person’s abilities to commit yourself. There’s plenty of people who are not neurodivergent who will fail and there are people who are neurodivergent who will pass. So, I think it just comes down to the individual.

“I think basic training can pose some difficulties for neurodivergent people, and it may take you out of your comfort zone,” he added. “But if you’re able to pass it, then you’re a much stronger person than before.”

For Escobar, his time at Beacon made him stronger for life and, ultimately, “Army strong.”

“You learn that you’ll commit lots of mistakes, you’ll mess up a lot. Things will not go your way. I learned that here and then when it happened to me in the military, it wasn’t as rough,” he said.

“There [are], at least in basic training, a lot of people [who] are very young. They come in at 17, 18. And I think they haven’t learned that experience yet. So, whenever they did something wrong or things wouldn’t go their way, or they weren’t the best at what it was that they were doing, it frustrated them. I had learned a lot of that here, or saw it in my fellow classmates where they weren’t the best at something or something didn’t turn out their way, but they tried their best and they learned from the opportunity. They didn’t have to be perfect. And, I think, I learned a lot from that experience.”