Born LEADer

Ask the first group of LEAD scholars and they’ll tell you they were family. During the early aughts, the first-generation students ate together, studied together, broke down barriers together. But Yuridia (Estrada) ’07 and Juan Esquivel ’09 took the family part a little further. The couple met and fell in love at SCU, wed in 2010, and welcomed the first LEAD baby, Alexander, June 1, 2017.

Yuridia and Juan had a lot in common had a lot in common, right from the start. As LEAD scholars, both were ambitious first-generation college students. Both lived on the same floor in Sobrato Residence Hall their first year. Both loved the L.A. Lakers.

“We always ended up walking to class together or hanging out together,” Yuridia says. Between classes, they sat with other LEAD scholars at the big round tables in the Benson Memorial Center. By the end of that first year their friendship had blossomed into a relationship—it was on-again, off-again, until it was on for good. Juan and Yuridia were married in the Mission Church in 2010.

They just celebrated their 10-year reunion—and before that, they returned to campus with little Alexander in tow. “You love your parents, you love your husband, but having a child, it’s a very different kind of love,” Yuridia says. “It’s something very amazing.”

Alexander came into the world riding good vibes. Yuridia started feeling some signs of labor early on May 31, but decided to go to a yoga class. After class, her instructor sent her on her way with a prayer. Then came lunch with yoga buddies and dinner with friends. By midnight, she was in labor. Alexander was born the next day right before noon. Prayer. Friends. Food. Not a bad start.

Juan, who is the third in his family to bear the name Juan Esquivel, decided against Juan IV, wanting to give his son his own legacy. Yuridia liked the ring of Alexander. Plus it’s easy to pronounce for people whose first languages are both English and Spanish. “My name, people tend to have a hard time saying it,” she says.

On Alexander’s reading lists when Mom does the reading: Are You My Mother? and Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site. Juan is more rambunctious, reenacting scenes from The Jungle Book with Dad as Baloo and Alexander as Mowgli.

Being a parent has made him more observant, Juan says. When he gets home from work, he puts his phone away and gives his son all his attention. He thinks back to his childhood and how hard his parents worked to give him an easier life. He wants to honor that sacrifice. “They didn’t have that time to be reading to you. They gave you a roof over your head to sleep, and the chance to study,” Juan says. “We read to him every day.”

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