​​

Leap of Faith

While she was still in high school, Isabel Castillo was detained by the United States Border Patrol for about five days in an icebox—a block of temporary holding cells in extremely cold, unkempt conditions for undocumented immigrants.

She had been arrested helping her brother cross back into the U.S. She went through court proceedings, and spent two months in a foster home before going home. With her school absences and changes in residence, she lost all her scholarships. But she never gave up.

Isabel is a DREAMer and a sexual assault survivor who has risen in spite of her obstacles. A daughter of Peruvian parents, she came to Los Angeles at age 6, and sees life with hope and opportunity.

"Through this life experience, I learned strength and resiliency to never let anything beat me down. If I can go days unable to sleep and under anxiety of my future, I can survive any assignment in college."

When she arrived at SMC, Isabel found a community that pushed her to succeed. "I've been told I'm not good enough," she says, "but my SMC professors and counselors helped me believe in myself."

Isabel involved herself in several of SMC's student support programs, including Adelante, Scholars, and EOPS. She also joined the SMC Honor Council committee, and as an Associated Students commissioner, she helped establish GEN-C, SMC's first gender equity center.

"Isabel is dynamic, and her enthusiasm is contagious," says English professor Mario Padilla. "She will no doubt achieve all her goals because the centrifugal force of her energy is unstoppable."

Isabel graduates with an Associate in Arts in Communication and Media Studies, with plans to attend the University of Southern California and major in communication. She hopes to work in the entertainment and journalism field to share the stories of the voiceless.

She encourages new SMC students to "launch yourself to the challenge. Join special programs. Take a leap of faith, and you'll find someone."

They are highlighted below. Also I have a quote from the most influential professor for me in this campus Dr. Darryl-Keith Ogata I will include it at the end of this message. I love Padilla's quote so if we could have both I would love it. If not, choose your favorite! It was amazing to meet you.

She encourages new SMC students to "use your greatest life challenge and let that inspire instead of letting you succumb to failure."

"Every now and then a student comes along that you know will make a wonderful impact on others and our communities. Isabel Castillo is that student.  She has developed social and emotional skills that fosters positive communication that is kind and compassionate."


Help Support SMC Student Scholarships!

Please consider making a contribution by visiting the Santa Monica College Foundation to support the student scholarship program!

DONATE NOW

Santa Monica College Foundation 

​​​​