Meet CU Denver student Yazmin Castillo
Castillo is passionate about children and nonprofit work
College is stressful. Work is stressful. Combined, these two things make for busy weeks with little time to oneself, and for some, that can be unbearable. Yazmin Castillo, however, is not like most people.
A first-generation student from Glenwood Springs, she has managed to juggle being a full-time student as well as the president of an on-campus organization and much more, and has done so with grace.
Yazmin is a psychology major graduating this May. On top of being the President of Love Your Melon, a CU Denver student organization centered around raising money for children battling cancer, she works at the Student Wellness Center and for Girls Inc. of Metro Denver, which focuses on “inspiring all girls to be strong, smart, & bold,” according to their website.
Just imagining doing so many things at once is overwhelming, a fact that Yazmin herself acknowledges, stating, “Like any other person, I get stressed out.” However, she cites one major source of stress-relief: “The thing that keeps me sane is working out.” She carves out time five to six days per week to hit the gym, a ritual that she says is a major part of her life.
The driving forces behind everything Yazmin does are her love for family and for children. With a minor in human development and family relations, she knows whatever she does after graduation will center around kids. While she does not plan to enter graduate school immediately following receiving her bachelor’s, Yazmin would like to get a master’s either in the medical field or in something revolving around nonprofits to go along with her current nonprofit work with Girls Inc.
The only thing that stands taller than her love for children is that of family. “My family is the most important thing to me,” Castillo said. As a first-generation student, she carries her family pride with her. “I’m not just doing this for myself, I’m doing this for my whole family. It’s paving the way for everybody in my family and for others who might not think that, you know, this is possible.”
Things are not that simple, however. In November 2018, ICE arrested Yazmin’s father at their Glenwood Springs home while he was working outside. He was then transported to a detention center in Aurora. “I visited him every single week,” Castillo said. “Seeing him locked up in that facility was one of the hardest things I’ve ever experienced because he was dressed as a criminal when, in reality, he is everything but.” On February 1 of this year, he was deported.
Due to the deportation, Yazmin’s father, whom she says is her “best friend, my support system, and my biggest motivation to succeed,” will not be able to attend her graduation. “As graduation gets closer,” Castillo said, “it gets harder and harder to even look forward to that day knowing he won’t be there. My father sacrificed everything for me to be able to walk across that stage.”
But she is a woman wise and strong beyond normal means and refuses to let this situation tear her down. She concluded, “And although with a broken heart, I will walk across that CU stage with my head held high as a proud Mexican-American, first-generation student.”