October 4, 2017 Academics, entrepreneurship and beauty pageants

Karen Escobar

Like other college undergrads, fourth-year finance student Karen Escobar has a busy schedule. But her Fisher experience involves more than attending classes and keeping up with her studies.

Escobar’s packed schedule also includes serving as president of the Hispanic Business Student Association (HBSA), running her own business, and her latest achievement: being crowned Miss Ohio Latina 2018. 

For Escobar, the opportunity to compete in the Miss Ohio Latina pageant has allowed her to maintain a closeness to her Hispanic heritage and cultivate friendships with other Latinas from central Ohio and around the state. 

Karen Escobar, Miss Ohio Latina Pageant
Karen Escobar, Miss Ohio Latina 2018

“I got involved with Miss Ohio Latina because I thought it would be a great experience and an opportunity to better myself personally and gain more confidence,” she said. “It was a very unique experience that I didn’t want let pass me by. And, the opportunity to be around other Latinas in a helpful and supporting environment really drew me in.”

At age 8, Escobar and her family immigrated from Venezuela to the U.S. and settled in the Columbus suburb of Dublin, where she eventually graduated from Dublin Coffman High School in 2014. 

At Fisher, Escobar’s engagement with HBSA began when she started attending meetings as a freshman and gradually became more active within the organization. From the beginning, she appreciated the organization’s welcoming culture and the mentorship she received from student leaders. As her engagement increased, she became involved with the organization’s executive board and eventually undertook the role of vice president of finance. 

Today, she credits HBSA with augmenting her Fisher classroom experience by helping her sharpen her leadership skills. As president, Escobar tries to pay forward to other members of the organization by serving as a mentor in the same fashion that she was mentored during her earlier involvement with HBSA.   

Although her term as HBSA president commenced last spring, she is particularly proud of leading the organization in the establishment a golf outing to raise funds to help members attend the Association of Latino Professionals For America’s (ALPFA) annual conference. Fisher’s HBSA seeks to send six to eight students annually to ALPFA’s conference. 

“Through the golf outing fundraiser, we were able to raise enough money so that students didn’t have to pay out of pocket to attend the 2017 ALPFA Convention in Las Vegas,” Escobar said. “It was a success because we didn’t want students to be limited if they didn’t have the funds to attend the conference.”

Escobar credits the experience of planning the golf outing fundraiser with providing her an additional sense of confidence as she prepares for her post-college career. 

“Planning the golf outing gave me the confidence to not be afraid to take risks and to think outside the box” she said. “It wasn’t the easiest to set up, and we weren’t sure exactly how it was going to turn out, but it exceeded our expectations and showed that having leadership and taking initiative can go a long way.”
 
Escobar’s motivation to pursue another of her passions — entrepreneurship — began while she was a student employee. Although she enjoyed her part-time job, she wanted to maximize her time outside the classroom for studies and her HBSA leadership commitments.

Ultimately, her interest in beauty pageants and fashion converged when she started a spray-tanning business. After receiving training during a visit to Los Angeles and investing in the equipment, she launched the endeavor. She started her company, Natural Bronze Tans, by offering a free spray-tan treatment to a friend who was in a sorority.

“I told her, ‘If I give you a spray tan and you like it, feel free to post on social media about my services,’ ” Escobar said. “Sororities have really become the main market I target. It took a lot of developing, but the approach has worked well for me.”

In addition to providing income and maximizing her time, Escobar’s entrepreneurial pursuit is complementing her Fisher experience, which she believes is helping her stand out to potential employers by demonstrating initiative and the ability to take calculated risks. And, she plans to continue the business as a source of additional revenue after graduation. 

With graduation on the horizon, Escobar is looking forward to a key opportunity to build on the global perspective that her involvement in and outside of Fisher has provided. This spring, she will participate in the Semester at Sea program, where she’ll visit 11 destinations around the globe, including Japan, China, and South Africa. Next summer she’ll complete a consulting internship at the Miami office of RSM, a middle-market-focused audit, tax and consulting firm. Escobar hopes to work in consulting after her anticipated December 2018 graduation. 

Through her Latina heritage, her experience as a Fisher student and her involvement with HBSA, an organization that interacts with diverse student organizations across campus, Escobar appreciates the value of a global outlook. 

“Appreciating diversity and inclusion are important for success, because when individuals with different backgrounds collaborate, you really get the best ideas,” she said. “And, having a global perspective will really help you get further in your professional career.”