Rafael Gamboa: Businessman, student and rancher.

A modern-day renaissance man, Rafael Gamboa can do it all. Through a tough balancing act, Rafael is a full-time college student at Colorado State University, works for his dad’s concrete company, and also does ranch work on school breaks.  

Rafael’s story, while it is still being written, has been one of hard work and perseverance, both values that he was taught at an early age by his family. To understand Rafael and where he wants to go in life, you have to start with what matters most to him. His family, both immediate and extended.  

“I think family is the most important thing in this world.” Rafael said.  

 Rafael, who was born in Denver, Colorado, would spend school breaks doing ranch work with his extended family in Mexico. His family there owns a large ranch with a sizable amount of cattle. Rafael owns his own cattle on the ranch as well.  

“Every single time we had a vacation we were sent over there,” Rafael said. “I remember riding a horse at six years old.” 

 These trips to Mexico to work on the family’s ranch taught Rafael the work ethic that he has carried with him throughout his life. When Rafael goes back to Mexico, which is frequently, he almost always does ranch work while there.  

“I don’t even think of it as a job.” Rafael said.” I just associate it with our culture and fun.”  

These trips to Mexico encapsulates what family is to Rafael . They are always there for each other when they need them.

“Whenever things are needed, we are there,” Rafael said. “When we go to Mexico, we don’t see it as a vacation, we see it as helping our family out.” 

When Rafael and his siblings would be sent to Mexico on school breaks, it was not only to help his extended family but also his parents.  

“It would also be a thing we would cause a little relief to my parents economically,” Rafael said.  “It was a lot cheaper to have us over there.”  

Rafael’s family has a concrete laying company that he works for, doing footings, the part of the building where the foundation sits. This ambitious young entrepreneur has big plans for the future of the family business that he hopes his education will help with.  

Rafael is attending Colorado State University through a patchwork of scholarships that amount to a full ride. He is majoring in business administration with a concentration in organization and innovation. He hopes to use his education as a tool to help him write a thesis paper on an environmentally friendly concrete. He eventually wants to get a patent on his own type of concrete. 

“If you want to change the industry or become big in the industry, you either have to have the experience to compete with the competition or you have to have something unique that makes you different from others, which is why I want to innovate concrete.” Rafael said.  

Rafael admits that it is not easy to balance both work and school. Rafael described rarely having time to socialize with friends during the school year because he was always busy with school or work. Rafael’s roommate from Colorado State University, Brodie Sparrow, can attest to Rafael’s hard driving work ethic and busy schedule.  

“He was always doing work no matter what.” Brodie said. 

Living in a community style double dorm room brought the two close together and made them good friends. It also gave Brodie a firsthand perspective into Rafael’s work ethic.  

“He was always doing school, all the time.” Brodie said. “He would work all day [at the job sites] and then come back and do school all night.”  

It is not easy being a full-time college student while also working, Rafael admits. It is often the little things that keep him up at night like sending an email to a teacher or making sure all his work is finished.  

“It does get overwhelming.” Rafael said. 

With summer fast approaching Rafael will go to work full time for the family’s concrete company and then when school starts up again, he will go back to balancing school and work.  

Rafael Gamboa talks with Michael Stella, April 27, 2021.

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