WT student veteran first in school's history to become Truman scholar

Updated: Apr. 19, 2017 at 5:26 PM CDT
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CANYON, TX (KFDA) - A West Texas A and M student is making history, as he receives one of the most prestigious scholarships in the country.

Jonathan Espinoza was the first person at WT to receive this scholarship. And he has quite the story to tell about how he got it.

Espinoza was born in Muleshoe and grew up in Friona. He graduated from Friona High School in 2000 and joined the United States Army in 2004.  Espinoza served four years of active duty as a medic and paratrooper, spending 15 months in Iraq.

"The military was a huge part in all of this. It was the best decision I made in my entire life. So after I got out of the Army I decided I needed to come back to the panhandle," said Espinoza. "I think the best way I knew how to was to get my education here in the panhandle from the locals. And so now that I'm here it's...I've dealt with a lot, but it's also been a real good healing experience."

Applying for the Truman scholarship is a long and grueling process. Espinoza applied last year, and later found out he was exempt from applying, as he was not a junior.

So this year, he tried again.

"The best part of it all was I was able to go through with it over and over again for 9 months to make sure that it was polished and correct. It's been a lot of hard work but I'm glad that I did it because I'm here now," said Espinoza.

Espinoza received a $30,000 scholarship for graduate school where he wants to obtain his law degree and a Master's in journalism.

Not only is Espinoza the University's first Truman Scholar, he is the first student from a regional university in The Texas A&M University System to ever receive the honor in the program's more than 40-year history.

"It's a's a good honor definitely but again it comes back to WT because we are a division 2 school but we compete with the big dogs now and that's one thing I'm really proud of that we can show that even though we are a small school, we can do great things if you just put in the hard work for it."

Espinoza tells us his ultimate goal is to end up at graduate school at UC Berkeley.

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