Angelica Castillo knew from a very young age that she wanted to be a social worker, but attending San Juan College to earn an associate degree in Human Services exceeded her expectations.

Graduate in full gown with honors tassels in front of pink flowering tree

“The support and encouragement that I received throughout my time at San Juan College has been amazing,” says Castillo. “I have been surrounded by professors, advisors and staff who have offered their assistance without hesitation.”

Castillo and her family moved to the United States when she was in sixth grade. They first lived in Tennessee with her brother, but were drawn to New Mexico after receiving assistance from a lawyer in Farmington. “We love it here,” declares Castillo. “This is our home.”

It was not long after moving to the United States when Castillo’s father became very ill. He spent nearly three weeks in the hospital. This event had an impact on Castillo’s future. “While my dad was in the hospital, he was assigned a social worker,” continues Castillo. “This social worker helped put our minds at ease and worked with us to explain everything. She was amazing. I knew I wanted to be just like her when I grew up.”

Since her father’s hospital experience, Castillo has been pursuing her dream of becoming a social worker. Castillo will graduate from SJC with an Associate of Arts in Human Services-Generalist degree. She is currently enrolled in Western New Mexico University, where she is working on a bachelor’s degree in social work. Castillo plans to obtain a master’s degree so that she can become a licensed clinical social worker for a hospital.

Student behind deskThis last semester, Castillo was an intern through the Student Achievement Center. She spent the majority of her time as an achievement coach to assist other students. “I loved working with students and helping to encourage them. I felt like I was giving back to the community who has given so much to me.”

“Along the way, I was supported by many people,” proclaims Castillo. “I was a student worker in the School of Humanities for almost a year. I learned a great deal from the people around me. They have truly helped me gain experience as a professional. It was Dr. David Bramhall and this group of people who encouraged me to obtain my U.S. citizenship. I wasn’t sure if I could do it, while taking classes and working, but they ensured me that I could.”

Castillo studied for the citizenship test last summer and then after passing the test, she participated in the ceremony in December. She said it was a proud moment for her, and Castillo felt the support from her SJC colleagues.

“I have met many kind people throughout my journey at San Juan College,” says Castillo. “Even when there were difficult days, I was always offered help from my SJC community. I would encourage anyone wanting to pursue a degree or certificate to attend San Juan College. They truly care about me as a person and my future.”