Outstanding Young Alumnus/a Award

This award honors a young alumnus/a for outstanding accomplishments since graduation. This award will recognize professional accomplishments, service to the alma mater, and voluntary work that betters their extended community.

2024 Recipient: Santiago J. Escobar B'12





Attending Saint Mary's was life changing for Santiago Escobar B’12. The entire experience and community prepared him for what was to come next. Beyond academics, he enjoyed many campus activities and service opportunities. However, one activity quickly rose to the top of his list: Ultimate Frisbee.

Combining his love for Ultimate Frisbee and his degree in International Business, Spanish, and Sport Management. Escobar became involved with the management side of the sport after graduation. He took a regional director role with USA Ultimate, and also became an event organizer and/or volunteer for local, regional, and national events, as well as international competitions in Italy and Denmark. Within months of graduating, he pushed the expansion of an Ultimate Frisbee professional league by earning territory rights, and becoming the founder of the Minnesota franchise. Escobar became the youngest owner of a professional sports franchise, and with involvement and support from many Saint Mary’s classmates and alumni, he built the organization from the ground up, managing all business operations, competition aspects, and game-day events during its first five seasons.

Simultaneously, Escobar earned a master's degree and worked as a program manager at Scholarship America, where he could connect students with academic scholarship opportunities.

In 2016, Santiago accepted a role at Thrivent, a Fortune 500 financial services company. He is now part of the business operations team for a societal impact program with a national footprint that closely aligns with his values. While at Thrivent, he continues to volunteer with organizations like BestPrep. His own experiences as a student have driven his continued involvement and support of educational organizations, so others can have similar and better opportunities. His volunteer work was recognized with the 2022 BestPrep Service Award. He also enjoys volunteering with Saint Mary's, especially with events that involve student development.

Thanks to Saint Mary’s, great memories were made, and doors were opened. However, the best part was attending alongside his brother (Luis Escobar B'12), and meeting the love of his life, Kelly (Wagner) Escobar B'11. Santiago and Kelly currently live in the Twin Cities with their son, Jacob.

Eligibility:

This award honors a degreed alumnus/a of SMUMN, who is a graduate from within the last 10 to 15 years, for outstanding accomplishments since graduation. This award will recognize professional accomplishments, service to the alma mater, and voluntary work that betters their extended community.

Past Recipients:

Georgann (Charuhas) Diderrrich B'96 - 2006

Dr. Michael Panicola B'92 - 2007

Matthew Bubala B'94 - 2009

Nathan Semsch B'04 - 2014

Jennifer (Folgers) Baertsch B'05 - 2015

Clair (Zauhar) Pennycuff B'06, M'07 - 2016

Annie Harala B'06 - 2017

Ania McNamara B'11 - 2018

Zach Cizek B’11 - 2022

David Dahlstrom B'10 - 2023

Santiago Escobar B'12 - 2024