Marco Castillo

Marco Castillo

Name: Marco Antonio Castillo
Age: 26
Major: Spanish
College: College of Liberal Arts
Hometown: Reynosa Tamaulipas
High School: Preparatoria Cetis #131

I knew UTRGV was the place I wanted to pursue my education since I was 18. At that age, I decided to move from Reynosa, a low-income area, to Edinburg to learn and fluently speak English. Once I settled into Edinburg, the University caught my eye instantly, since I had never seen building this big in my hometown. I felt like I was in a city of its own and I felt the need to be part of this large community. For me this was sort of a dream university, kind of like the ones I would only see on TV and movies. What made me feel more comfortable and assured is the fact that UTRGV offers a bilingual, bicultural, and biliterate education which has made the transition process for me, as a first-generation student, easier.           

What made you decide on your current major?
I hear a calling for teaching, I can feel it inside me, I hear that voice almost every day asking me Why am I not helping a confused student or guiding a young man into his path. I have a need to help, it isn’t within my control. I’m earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish. In Spring 2020 I decided my major to be Spanish and to start teaching the language that I was raised speaking, that same year in the fall I started my dream job in the university and became a Spanish Tutor for the Learning Center at campus, this semester spring 2022 I’ve become a History Tutor as well, I am planning on being an university professor capable of teaching a variety of subjects, between languages, social sciences and eventually even math.

How are you maneuvering being a student during the COVID-19 pandemic?
I am deeply sorry for the people who lost someone during this pandemic. For me, it made me realize the big addiction that I had always had for being busy, sometimes we just excuse ourselves with “being busy” when in reality we are just avoiding the problems that frighten us. Me being a workaholic, I had never experienced having free time, in these last 2 years of pandemic I had been able to spend valuable time with my mom, and my sister, I became closer to them, we also fought of course, but learnt from each other too, we just had to, we never had the opportunity to spend so much time together, and we ended up adapting to one another, and now I can say I feel our relationship it’s the closest and smoothest  it’s ever been. I also started eating and cooking more at home, I became more conscious about my health state, since I was worried, I could catch the virus and not be strong enough to hold it.

What are your greatest strengths and what are some challenges? 
I am a very organized person; I like to think that my time management skill is really sharp and effective. I am not afraid of starting again, I am not afraid of trying new things. However, I have always compared myself to others so much, I beat myself pretty bad from time to time, I add extra tasks and duties to my normal day just so that I can feel useful, and that I did something productive with my day. This has gotten me into a lot of problems, I keep adding activities to my day to day that I end up burning out, even with the ones I have a passion for. I force myself to be good at what I do, and by not being patient about steady progress I just bring a lot of frustration to my plate. Nonetheless I am conscious about these defects, and lately these years I’ve noticed I’ve become more patient, friendly and kind to myself.

What do you hope to achieve beyond completion of your major?
I am an educator. I will do what an educator does. I will keep seeking for knowledge, striving to share it, and striving to captivate knowledge in an attractive form so that more students enjoy learning. I look forward to becoming a mentor for students, a model, and an example of how adversity, hiccups, and life unexpected events do not stop you from helping others. 

What do you like most about UTRGV?
Its people, the faculty, the staff, the students. They all integrate and make my experience at UTRGV unique. Before coming here, I didn’t feel part of something bigger than myself.

 Now I can just walk through the buildings and feel like I belong here or that what I do matters or makes a difference in here. I also enjoy walking through the bronc trail and see and explore the new events coming up advertised on the columns, or walk through the grass, and stopping to enjoy the shade of a tree. Since I don’t like my campus to be dirty it’s also become a habit of mine to pick up every little piece of trash that I could catch on my way to class. I am already very invested in my university. I truly feel responsible for its campus, facilities, and students-professors experiences.

I am part of UTRGV and will never be separated from it. I am going to take with me the UTRGV Vaquero spirit wherever I go. I would like to take this opportunity to highlight the job of the faculty and staff here, Professor Marcela Hebbard was my English 1301 instructor, she is the first professor of my first semester of the first class that I took in this university. Again, I did not speak very good English back then, however she always looked for ways to make sure I was understanding the topic, believed in me, and pushed me towards excellence at every opportunity.

What does being a Vaquero mean to you?
I feel like the mascot Vaquero represents the main ethnic here in the Rio Grande Valley area. I am a Mexican, I was raised and lived as a Mexican for 18 years. When I came here, my Mexican identity was still fighting to fit in its new home, the United States. My first years here I struggled to make peace with my identity, even after I decided to serve America by joining the United States Army, I was still internally refusing to give up on my roots. And this is where Vaqueros came into place, UTRGV has a great culture mix of Texas and Hispanic countries, the majority of its students can speak Spanish, and great part of that even have Spanish as their first language. The proximity between UTRGV and the Mexican city, Reynosa it’s less than 30 miles. Therefore, we get to experience the best of both worlds. Being a Vaquero is what finally made me come in peace with my identity, not fully only a Mexican, neither nor only an American, but a Mexican American.

What opportunities has UTRGV helped you find throughout your community?
UTRGV community is one of the most united communities I have ever seen, and again I think it’s because of the great Texas-Hispanic heritage that the majority here share. Since the very first days when I stepped a foot in Edinburg I realized the kind of people that reside here, people would offer me rides when I would walk to my work at McDonalds, or when I would be carrying the groceries bags from Walmart to my aunt apartment. The first day I got the courage to step up ask in the front desk of admissions how could get in this university, the desk clerk, Marina Escobar helped me by answering all of my questions, she explained me every single process, and she even did it in Spanish since at that time I did not speak English, she then referred me other amazing people that were also extremely helpful. Right now, I still feel in debt with the RGV community, they have been given me everything, and I truly couldn’t ask for more. At the moment I work for the Center of Student Involvement and working for this department allows me to be engaged in the student community, attend the events, and also plan and prepare for them so that the students can have the greatest experience.

What advice do you have for fellow students pursuing degrees during the COVID-19 pandemic?
The self-made man or self-made person was very popular when I started school here, that idea of that you can do everything and anything by yourself, and that you don’t need anyone, and that all you need to do is to keep fighting and never give up, yes indeed, not giving up, and working hard are essential to the success of any kind, however you don’t have to do it everything yourself. Out there, there are thousands of students with the same major as you, hundreds of students experiencing the same burn-out as you. This is something that I learnt really late in life and I ended up paying the consequences, I would advise every new student or already enrolled student to strive for kindness, to strive for friendship, you are already doing good by coming up here and read this profile in excellence, you deserve to have friends, to take a break, and to help and allow to be helped by others.