Striving to Change Lives: Maria Castillo Achieves Her Dreams Through the College Pathways Program

Maria Castillo

Books were her refuge in her early childhood years. Her commitment to education led her to attend college, a place she only dreamed she would be as a young adult. For Maria, being a part of the Job Corps College Pathways program is the first step on her path to becoming a vehicle for change in the lives of those with mental health challenges. Below, Maria talks about her childhood, where she is now and where she plans to go in life.

Academic Institution: Austin Community College
Declared Major: Psychology
Hometown: Von Ormy, Texas

My opinions and aspirations have always been met with sugar-coated negativity and experiences have left me with a cynical outlook on life. I did not want to be where I was, nor did I expect to find myself playing the lead in situations that overtook my childhood. So I kept my eyes on the words of books and study sessions instead of play dates. All my efforts and hard work were in the hope to one day stand where I was told I couldn’t: Here. In this space, in this year, and so forth. It’s a cliché response to say I wanted to further my education. I want to embrace all aspects of the conscious and unconscious, to be a part of others’ lives in a way no one else has cared or dared to.

Attending college and working towards my career goals, I now have the opportunity to take part in the lives of those with disruptive mental functions and regaining control from substance abuse. My opinions and aspirations can now become reality because I came to Gary Job Corps and in turn, was introduced to the College Pathways Program and the Tom Joyner Foundation. I wouldn’t change a thing. Here, I am taught essential skills to prepare for what classes would expect out of me and how to refine interpersonal ones. I couldn’t be more thankful.

Cherie S. White
Cherie S. White
Cherie S. White is Director of Digital Strategy for the Tom Joyner Foundation, a writer and editor.