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The Lobatos: A family paying it forward

August 11, 2013
by Kelly Burnett

The Lobatos believe in paying it forward. It's evident in the way they live, how they help others, and now, in the legacy they're leaving at Colorado State.

“What goes around, comes around,” says Jonathan Lobato (’13), the youngest of three siblings who all attended CSU. Jonathan, along with his brother, Matthew Lobato (’12), his sister, Erica Lobato (’09), and the support of their parents, Deborah and Richard, founded the J.E.M.s Scholarship.

The scholarship, which is an acronym for the siblings’ first names, is for incoming freshman who will be enrolled in the Key Academic Community and also graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School in Denver, Colo. - the Lobatos’ former high school.

“We all feel truly blessed and thankful for all of the opportunities that have come our way so far and want to help provide similar opportunities for those that don’t have the support, either financially or emotionally,” says Erica.

Key creates foundation for family

The first in the Lobato family to attend CSU, Erica Lobato quickly found a place within the Key Academic Community. As a living and learning community, The Key Community's mission is to help incoming students seamlessly transition into college life. The program values of diversity, community involvement, and academic support and encouragement was attractive to Erica and fed into her family values of lifelong learning, helping others, and unconditional love for family.

“My parents always demonstrated the importance of hard work and giving back,” says Jonathan. Their father would ask, “If you’re not helping other people around you, then what’s the point?”

It wasn’t long before Jonathan was following in his sister’s footsteps, enrolling at CSU and joining the Key Academic Community. “I believe that my experience with Key furnished me with the strong foundation to succeed at CSU. This support network became my campus family,” says Jonathan.

When Jonathan was a sophomore, Matthew joined his brother and sister, transferring from Front Range Community College to CSU and also joining the Key Academic Community. The siblings were also roommates and, while many siblings would not fare well with this kind of living arrangement, the Lobatos loved it. “It was a blast,” says Jonathan. “It was like living at home, but without our parents.”

“The bond between the three of us is strong, and we are naturally close,” says Erica.

Matthew adds, “Blood makes you relatives, but loyalty, respect, and trust make you family.”

Valuing education, one another

Throughout their college years, the Lobato siblings supported one another. Jonathan bought Erica’s used textbooks with the use of a refund check from a scholarship he was granted. After CSU, each sibling went his or her own way to pursue careers and adventures. Whether they were in Denver (Jonathan), New York (Erica), or Texas (Matthew), they stayed connected through their strong family bond, their CSU commonality, and through the J.E.M.s Scholarship.

“We value the education we received and the J.E.M.s Scholarship is our way of recognizing and encouraging others to pursue their academic dreams,” says Jonathan.

The Lobato family has made their mark on CSU. They are now a part of a giving circle benefitting the scholarship they founded. While the scholarship currently is reserved for graduates of Thomas Jefferson High School, the hope is that the scholarship continues to grow so it can be open to all Denver public high schools.

For more information on how to donate, visit the website.

Article first appeared in AlumLine, a monthly e-newsletter for CSU alumni and friends.