Zaida Castillo “Get involved in the student clubs. When you join up, you have a vote and a way to make a change in your life—change that leads to a lot of opportunities.”

For Zaida Castillo, the ‘Big Picture’ began to clear up in the middle of her three years at SMC. “I was going into premed studies, but I wasn’t very strong in Biology. But I still wanted to help people in the medical field,” she says. “So now I’m going into Business Management, and then go on for my Master’s in Office Information Systems. Then I’ll have the skills to be involved at a high level in some hospital. Right now,” she adds, “I’m trying to transfer to Cal State LA, and with my 3.0 GPA, I’m pretty sure they’ll accept me.”

Born in Mexico and now a US citizen, Zaida reports, “It was a high school teacher who took us all to SMC at first. And my brother was going there already, so we all decided to go there too.” It’s a tight community of potential students that borders SMC along Pico Blvd. And the word is getting out—to Zaida and others—about the possibilities that SMC offers through the Pico Partnership, though Zaida’s home is certainly nowhere near SMC.

“One of the people that has helped us out the most is Nati Vazquez, who’s involved in EOPS and is also a counselor for the Pico Partnership. He’s been very important for my education because he’s helping me to get better recommendations to other colleges,” says Zaida. “But I think one of the best things that I’ve done here was to get involved with the Association of Latin American Students (ALAS),” says Zaida. “We’re very active on the status of immigrant students who have to pay nonresident tuition. Governor Davis just opened the door to all these people by signing AB540 into law. And that’s what ALAS is all about: helping students.” Now, if someone could just help Zaida out with her daily 3-hour commute….

Read more stories from present and past years in the SMC Student Spotlight Archive.