Scholar Spotlight: Isabelle Castillo-Anderson
We recently sat down and asked Isabelle Castillo-Anderson about her experiences at The Ohio State University and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. Here's what she had to say.
What is your major and why do did you choose it?
I am a Strategic Communications and Political Science double major with a minor in Leadership Studies. I chose my Political Science major because my favorite classes in high school were those that studied interactions between people and especially the political and governmental systems, we've created over human history to organize these societies. I decided on strategic communications to go along with this in order to continue to expand on my public speaking and writing skills.
What year are you?
I am a third-year student.
How did you get connected with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion's Latinx Student Success (LSS) program?
My connection with LSS started when I received an email asking me to apply to the Latinx Early Arrival Program the summer before my freshman year. I am from a predominantly Hispanic city in Texas and had honestly been pretty concerned about the culture shock I would face going to a predominantly white institution in the Midwest for college. When arriving to campus with the LEAP program I met the former program coordinator for LSS, Lauren Lopez, and was given the opportunity to submit an application to become a student assistant with the office. The LEAP Program not only helped me make my first staff connection here at Ohio State with Lauren, who has become my greatest mentor and has been a huge resource for me, but also introduced me to some of my best friends today and showed me that while small, the Latinx community at Ohio State is present and always willing to help.
How have you seen LSS support Latinx students?
I've been involved with LSS both as a student worker and as a cohort member turned student leader of their Latinx Early Arrival Program. Through my work with the office I have learned that student connection with staff and faculty is one of the components that is hardest for Latinx students to develop but also one most pivotal to their success at the university. The LSS team places the right people on the front lines of handling student concerns and connecting them to any resource they may need help with, be it internship and study abroad opportunities, mental or financial wellness or even a place to grab a cup of coffee, chat with someone about life, and forget about school work for a few precious moments between classes. All of the staff with the LSS team (both current and former) have been the type of person to take a few minutes to chat with students who walk in about getting more out of their experience here at the university.
When do you hope to graduate?
I hope to graduate in Spring 2021.
What are your plans for after graduation?
My current plans are to attend law school after graduation with the ultimate goal of becoming an attorney with a focus on either civil rights or immigration law. One of the most important things for me is that the work that I do after graduation plays a part in removing barriers to opportunity for those who aren't born with the privileges many Americans take for granted.
Who inspires you to succeed and why?
Someone that inspires me to succeed is my mom. She grew up in Guatemala City, Guatemala first traveling to the United States at the age of 17. Her father had moved to the U.S. for work when she was younger and she hoped to stay with him for a bit to hone her English skills enough to be more competitive in the workforce in Guatemala. When her father ended up marrying his American girlfriend, my mom was given the opportunity to become a U.S. Citizen. She enrolled in college and took on two separate jobs but still managed to graduate from school near the top of her class. My mom is the type of person who never shies away from hard work, is willing to sacrifice everything for the people she loves and the things that she is passionate about, and never gives up under any circumstances. I really differ from her in a lot of ways, often taking a realist (at times pessimistic) view on life. Every day, my mom inspires me to believe in myself and to put that belief to work.
If a high school student came up to you and asked for advice about college, what would you tell them?
If a high school student came up to me and asked for advice about college, I would tell them to focus on the things that are easiest to improve and to not be afraid to put themselves first sometimes. College is a stressful experience, and you're often going to be asked to do more: join such and such club, take on such and such internship, meet and keep up with all of the people you can and never say no to a new opportunity. In reality, part of navigating college is saying no sometimes, and making decisions that are best for you. Ambition is very important, but you can't perform your best when you are constantly burned out by giving yourself too many responsibilities. Find the things your most passionate about and focus on them, but also keep your mind open to new things when you can.