IDAHO FALLS — Joselynn Castillo is the first person in her family to attend college, and now she is the recipient of a rare $10,000 scholarship from a television broadcasting company and a popular band.
Since she was 13-years-old, Castillo has dreamed of becoming a dentist and opening her own dental practice. As a Latino student at Idaho State University, she is working relentlessly to make her dream a reality and the scholarship puts her one step closer.
“I didn’t believe it for the longest time. Out of everyone in this country, (I thought) ‘Why me?’ It’s still sinking in,” Castillo said.
The sophomore recently received an email letting her know out of over 1,200 applicants, she was one of 15 students awarded the scholarship from Univisión. But the only reason she had the chance to accept the scholarship was thanks to her mother, who encouraged her to apply.
“My mom watches her Spanish shows on TV and they were advertising (this scholarship) on Univisión,” Castillo said. (My mom) said (I) should apply. I said, ‘It’s a national scholarship and I’m not going to get it.’ But she kept pushing it, so I did. ”
The television network teamed up with a popular Mexican band, Maná, to form the Maná Scholarship Program. The awards were given to Latino students ages 18-35. Recipients have the option to attend Maná’s concert in Los Angeles where they will meet the band in December.
As a first-generation student, Castillo’s heart is overflowing with gratitude after earning this scholarship. She’s always excelled at her studies – graduating from Snake River High at the top of her class and now in her second year at ISU. Castillo is setting an example for her family in Mexico and three younger sisters in Idaho of what it means to be a hard worker.
Not only is she paving the way for them, but those around her notice her efforts as well.
Castillo is part of the ISU TRIO program, which provides access and opportunity programs for students across the country. She has worked with her TRIO Student Support Services Advisor, Juanita Gonzalez, since last fall.
“I am impressed with how she has successfully navigated through college during her first year and a half as a first-generation student,” Gonzalez said in an email to EastIdahoNews.com. “She has also taken advantage of many student opportunities at Idaho State University.”
Castillo is involved in different organizations at ISU like the Hispanic Awareness Leadership Organization (HALO) and the Pre-health Professions Association Club. She is majoring in Spanish for the Health Professions and Biology. Although she loves oral health, something else has caught her eye as she’s matured. She has noticed the lack of diversity in the workplace, and she wants to change that.
“I think we definitely need a hispanic female dentist,” Castillo said. “I have my whole church in Blackfoot lined up.”
Throughout this application and acceptance process, Castillo has learned that despite your ethnicity and financial situations, dreams are still within reach if you put forth the effort.
“Hard work really does pay off in the end,” Castillo said. “It’s totally worth it.”