By Matt Watson
Eight years ago, when Sean Peters barely graduated high school, lived out of his car and worked at a coffee shop to get by, graduating college was the last thing on his mind. Even as he wraps up his college career with a 3.88 GPA and military, business, internship and academic accolades, he finds it hard to believe he’s receiving a college degree, much less the Provost’s Award at commencement.
Peters’ plan all along was an Air Force career. His life took a nosedive when the Air Force rejected him because he was home-schooled, around the same time that his parents moved across the country and the house they left behind was foreclosed.
With no home, no career and no support system, Peters continued on, undeterred, and made his way into the Air Force Reserve. He became a distinguished graduate of the Security Forces Academy at Lackland Air Force Base.
Despite barely finishing high school, he enrolled and excelled at Arapahoe Community College and later MSU Denver, earning the Dean’s Academic Achievement Award from the College of Business.
Coming from a family that twice went bankrupt and left him on his own financially as a teenager, he still managed to be named best business intern at United Launch Alliance and start his own business out of his home. As CEO and brewmaster of Peak View Brewing Company, Peters is finishing lease negotiations for a storefront in Greenwood Village that he hopes to begin construction on in January. All while completing a management degree with nearly perfect grades, which his professors have certainly noticed.
“He has that unique entrepreneurial acumen we see only in a handful of individuals who are fired up about starting their own businesses,” said marketing professor W. Wossen Kassaye, Ph.D.
Kassaye and management professor Stuart Warnock, Ph.D, nominated Peters for the Provost’s Award for entrepreneurial success, academic achievement and willingness to help his classmates.
“Founding a business while completing academic studies with distinction is a challenge that very few could successfully accomplish,” Warnock said. “For a business student, there are few accomplishments that could signify more.”
For every bank or developer who has turned Peters down in his quest to build a brewery, he’s found someone else to believe in him and back his business, raising $15,000 in a 30-day Kickstarter campaign and persuading anyone who will listen not to bet against him.
“It has not been easy to get abandoned by my parents, having my military career plans fall apart and having to rebuild and find something that I’m passionate about and willing to dedicate my college experience to,” Peters said. “I’ve been told by tons of people that I can’t do something. You just keep pushing.
“To actually see the end of the tunnel – the brewery is going to happen and I’m actually going to graduate – I think it’s pretty cool. I don’t give up.”
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