St. Olaf College | News

A runaway success

""When Paul Escher ’16 embarked on his college search, he knew what he was looking for.

As an athlete with academic interests in health care and religion, Escher explains that he was originally drawn to “the solid pre-med program and sizable Religion Department” at St. Olaf College, in addition to its cross country team.

Four years later, Escher is a three-sport athlete graduating with a double major in biology and religion. Throughout his time at St. Olaf, he has achieved a myriad of accomplishments in both athletics and academics.

Escher was formally recognized for his far-ranging talent when the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association named him the 2014-15 Scholar-Athlete of the Year. This award is given to the highest-finishing performers at the National Collegiate Athletic Association Indoor & Outdoor Championships who also achieved USTFCCCA All-Academic Individual status, with cumulative GPA as the final tiebreaker among them.

Escher won two national championship titles in NCAA Division III track and field last year, one in the indoor mile run and one in the outdoor 1500-meter run.

Paul Escher ’16 (center) competes in an indoor track and field meet. He won the national championship in the indoor mile run last year.

“Being a three-sport athlete takes a lot of time,” Escher says. However, by learning to “shift [his] focus,” especially when going from practice to studying, he manages his various activities effectively — even finding time to engage with the community on campus and in Northfield.

Escher is the editor-in-chief of Avodah, a student-run journal of Christian thought, as well as the president of the Catholic Students Association. In addition, he volunteers at the Northfield Retirement Community through Story Circle, a student organization that connects St. Olaf students with retired residents.

Following graduation, Escher plans to take a gap year before beginning medical school. During this time, he would like to work in the health care field. And, of course, he’ll keep running.

Escher has certainly found meaningful opportunities and tangible outcomes during his time at St. Olaf. Yet he says the student body is ultimately the reason that he chose to attend St. Olaf four years ago — and the people he’s spent the past four years with haven’t disappointed.

“Oles are passionate,” he says. “Everything they do, they do it bigger.”