2015 Hult Prize Winner Andres Escobar's Return to Taiwan: A Reflection on IMBA's Lasting Legacy

  • 2023-10-26
  • Admin Admin
2015 Hult Prize Winner Andres Escobar's Return to Taiwan: A Reflection on IMBA's Lasting Legacy

After eight years since his graduation from the IMBA program, Andres Escobar embarked on a heartwarming journey back to Taiwan. His mission was to reconnect with cherished memories from his student days and introduce his family to the place that had shaped his academic and personal growth. Hailing from El Salvador, Andres had been one of the standout international students in IMBA, a distinction exemplified when he and his team proudly received the prestigious Hult Prize from former President Bill Clinton in 2015, an accolade often referred to as the "Nobel Prize for students."

Past and Present: Witnessing Taiwan's Ongoing Transformation

During his visit, Andres and his wife, Sophia, delved into the vibrant tapestry of Taipei City. They received a warm welcome from current students, including Jose Rivera, Adriana Castaneda, and Jose Garcia, who joined them for a memorable lunch. Andres regaled them with captivating stories from his student life, detailing his unwavering commitment and the challenges he encountered along the way. He was determined to showcase the place where he had crafted both his academic and personal journey.

In addition to revisiting the campus, Andres explored the new library and the dormitory that once served as his home during his IMBA days. He couldn't help but notice the remarkable transformations that had taken place since his last visit, particularly the impressive array of restaurants that now occupied spaces he once knew. He also marveled at the progress evident in the campus infrastructure, a reflection of Taiwan's remarkable growth.

IMBA Family: Beyond a Connection

After a stroll through the Dah Hsian Seeto Library, Andres had a heartwarming encounter with his Financial Management instructor from his IMBA days at NCCU, Professor Jason Tsai. Their heartfelt conversation included discussions about the course of Andres's life and fond reminiscences of his days as an IMBA student. Andres vividly recalled the valuable lessons he had absorbed during the IMBA program, particularly the "norming, storming, and performing" framework, which he continues to find incredibly useful when meeting new people. He passionately emphasized the significance of nurturing strong relationships and keeping them alive over time, showcasing the robustness of the IMBA alumni network as a testament to the thriving sense of community. He also highlighted the satisfaction of witnessing everyone's growth, both in their personal lives and professional careers.

**The Hult Prize Competition: A Small Decision with Profound Impact**

Andres had stood out as one of the brightest stars in the IMBA program at National Chengchi University. In 2015, he and his team "IMPCT," which included members Chen An-nung from Taiwan, Juan Diego Prudot from Honduras, and Taylor Scobbie from Canada, secured a monumental victory by winning $1,000,000 in funding from the Hult Prize Foundation to establish PlayCares. This social enterprise aimed to enhance early childhood education in urban slums.

During their conversation, Andres shared the inspiring story of how the project came to life, giving credit to the unwavering ambition of his teammate, Juan Diego. The idea had its humble origins in a casual dorm room conversation when Juan Diego, his Honduran roommate and co-founder of IMPCT, asked him, "Hey, do you want to participate in the Hult Prize competition?" Initially hesitant, citing numerous personal challenges, Andres was ultimately persuaded by Juan's encouragement and determination. This seemingly small decision had a transformative effect on their lives.

Following their Hult Prize victory, the IMPCT project was implemented. A few year after, Andres seized a precious opportunity to pursue his entrepreneurial journey and forge lifelong bonds with his teammates, who had become his dearest friends. He left behind an enduring piece of wisdom: "Don't ignore small opportunities, for life has a way of surprising you."

Upon returning to El Salvador, Andres couldn't help but reflect on his visit to the old haunts of the IMBA program, remarking, "I wanted to take a moment to stop and reflect on what a wonderful visit we had. I was not expecting such rich attention and a great time. I guess that's one of the IMBA's core values: its network and warmth." He extended his gratitude to everyone who had taken the time to be with him, emphasizing that the most valuable takeaway from the IMBA was not just knowledge but the enduring memories and friendships. He reminded current students to cherish their moments, as life's real richness lies in long-term relationships that require nurturing during and after their master's degree, not only with fellow students but also with administrators and professors. Andres concluded by encouraging students to follow this advice, assuring them that they would see its profound impact for themselves.

The IMBA Family transcends the realms of mere classmates or acquaintances. Wherever and whenever you find yourself, this enduring bond, formed during the most joyous and challenging moments of your master's degree journey, will remain steadfast. So, what does the IMBA Family mean to you?

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Current IMBA students and Head of IMBA Program, Professor Jason Tsai, extend a warm welcome to Hult Prize Winner Andres and his wife at NCCU.

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Andres and his wife enjoying dinner while catching up on the latest IMBA Program updates with IMBAA President Yenlan Lin and his thesis advisor, Professor Shari Shang, amidst the company of current IMBA students.