From Nepal to Fort Collins: How one first-year CSU student overcame seemingly insurmountable obstacles

Samir Mongar

Samir Mongar is now a first-year student in CSU’s College of Business. (Photo: John Eisele, CSU Photography)

Samir Mongar has been defying the odds since the very moment he entered the world. 

“When I was born I wasn’t breathing properly, and they rushed me into urgent care and put me on oxygen,” he said. “When my parents asked how I was doing, the doctors told them I was not going to make it and might already be dead.” 

Mongar, obviously, survived to tell that tale. He’s also lived to talk about his experiences growing up in a refugee camp in Nepal, and the challenges that he’s overcome to begin his first year in Colorado State University’s College of Business. 

“I’m planning on one day writing a book about my life,” he said, “but I’m just worried it won’t be long enough.”

From Nepal to Fort Collins 

Mongar lived in a United Nations refugee camp in Nepal until he was eight years old. He remembers having to use newspapers to insulate the cracks in his family’s bamboo house, but that it was never enough to keep the cold out. 

“The camp didn’t have paved roads, and sometimes it felt like there was nothing but dust,” he said. 

This wasn’t Mongar’s only challenge. Until the age of three, he couldn’t walk. In school, he found himself struggling to hear his teachers inside the large classrooms where he was supposed to learn. 

“I was the dumbest kid in school, I got made fun of, I had no friends,” Mongar said. “The teachers actually told my parents that I had no future, I would not go to high school or college, and I would stay this dumb for the rest of my life.” 

Samir Mongar and his family
Samir Mongar and his family celebrate his graduation from Denver South High School.

Mongar’s family moved to Colorado in 2013. He and his sister had to learn English, and he said he was intimidated about going back to class after his experience in Nepal. 

Instead, Mongar’s teachers made a discovery: He had an undiagnosed hearing disability. 

“That kid everybody thought was dumb actually wasn’t that dumb,” Mongar said. “He needed some support, and hearing aids helped me suddenly learn from my teachers.” 

Mongar began to excel at Denver South High School and joined student council. Outside of class, organized a Wish Week and yard cleanup to help his community. 

And, the boy who couldn’t walk the first few years of his life and used a wheelchair when he first arrived in the U.S. was able to join the cross country team thanks to physical therapy. 

“I would say Samir is probably one of the most unique, special students that I’ve come across in my 23 years of teaching,” said Jason Brookes, one of Mongar’s teachers at Denver South. “He has an amazing, positive and curious attitude and is always happy and striving for knowledge.”

Driven to succeed

Samir Mongar, family and friends pose with the symbolic check he earned upon receiving a four-year scholarship to CSU.

Mongar’s story caught the attention of Ron Martinez, the co-founder and chairman of the Sean “Ranch” Lough Memorial Foundation, which was named in honor of a distinguished CSU graduate who died in a tragic mountain biking accident.  

“My jaw just dropped when I heard everything Samir overcame to get to this point,” Martinez said. “When he tells you his story, you can tell that he’s humble. He’s very goal-oriented and very focused, and he embodied many of the qualities that made my friend Sean ‘Ranch’ Lough great.”

Mongar is the recipient of a full-ride, four-year scholarship on behalf of the foundation. He’s the first person in his family to go to college, and plans to pursue a degree in finance. It might be his first-year, but he’s already thinking of a master’s degree … and maybe finishing that book. 

“One thing I have learned, and I live by this motto every single day, is I look at my disability as an ability,” Mongar said. “I’ve also learned that there are really good people in this world, and I want to be one of them.”

About CSU’s College of Business

The College of Business at Colorado State University is focused on using business to create a better world.

As an AACSB-accredited business school, the College is among the top five percent of business colleges worldwide, providing programs and career support services to more than 2,500 undergraduate and 1,300 graduate students. Faculty help students across our top-ranked on-campus and online programs develop the knowledge, skills and values to navigate a rapidly evolving business world and address global challenges with sustainable business solutions. Our students are known for their creativity, work ethic and resilience—resulting in an undergraduate job offer and placement rate of over 90% within 90 days of graduation.

The College’s highly ranked programs include its Online MBA, which has been ranked the No. 1 program in Colorado by U.S. News and World Report for five years running and achieved No. 16 for employability worldwide from QS Quacquarelli Symonds. The College’s Impact MBA is also ranked by Corporate Knights as a Top 20 “Better World MBA” worldwide.