Student of the Month: March 2021

Jorge Castro

A portrait of Jorge outside in a park

Our Student Of The Month for the month of March is Jorge Castro. Jorge is a second year Computer Engineering major here at UMBC. Besides being a full time Student, Jorge is also a founder of a mentoring program that helps minority students in the Baltimore area with the college application and transitioning process. Congratulations Jorge, and keep up the great work.

Q: Tell us about yourself. (what school do you go to, your major, what year, what do you hope to accomplish with your major after you graduate, etc)
Hello, my name is Jorge Castro. I was born and raised in Baltimore City MD. I come from a family of Mexican and Salvadorian immigrants. I am the first person in my family to attend college, but certainly not the last as I intend to guide my younger siblings to follow in my footsteps.

I am now a second-year student at The University of Maryland Baltimore County majoring in Computer Engineering. After completing my undergraduate studies, I plan to continue my studies at graduate school and get a Masters in Business Administration. With this experience and knowledge, I would like to enter the engineering field as a computer engineer as well as my own technology business.

My plan also includes the expansion of my newly established mentoring program for minority students in Baltimore City. I founded my program in the fall of 2020 after identifying a lack of support and resources for minority students in my community in relation to the application and transition to college level application. My hope is to inspire these individuals with my own story of perseverance and determination to strive for more and pursue a higher education. And as I continue in my educational journey, I hope to learn more and experience more in order to become a stronger resource and mentor for the students. I intend to make this program more available to other students and to get more of my peers involved. I am currently working with a few students in this program and I have already seen the impact I have had on their views of college and the application process. What I wish to accomplish with my major is to gain more experience and knowledge not just to help myself but to help my community.

Q: Do you think the term first Generation is seen as positive or negative? And why? If negative what can we do to change the connotation of the term first Gen?
In my perspective, the term First-Generation is something seen as immensely positive. First-Generation students, no matter their background, are individuals who broke a pattern and dedicated themselves to their education in hopes of a better future. Breaking such a pattern takes bravery, drive, and most importantly a mindset of success. They are pioneers whose experience and knowledge will help educate other First-Generation students or others with similar situations. First-generation students overcome, adapt, and inspire.

Q: What advice would you give a first gen student who is first starting college or about to start the college process?
My advice would be to take advantage of the abundance of opportunities, both educational and not, that college provides. I have seen that every opportunity can be a learning experience or a chance to broaden your network. I would also add to not to be afraid to ask for help. Many first-year students feel that asking for help is a sign of weakness, however it is quite the opposite. Someone who asks for help is dedicated to their work and not falling behind. They recognize that there are resources available for their success and takes advantage of them.

Q: What would you like to see different for future first-gen students?
I would like to see an increase in resources available to them before and after attending college. Things like mentoring, tutoring, or guidance about the college application process and the college process itself. When I first started my application process, I struggled with many things like FAFSA. Now, there are still several things I sometimes struggle to understand. Resources to reach more students in the college process would increase the number of students going to college and succeeding once in.

Q: What do you like to do in your down time?
Something I enjoy during my downtime is sports. I am a big soccer and football fan so I watch and play them whenever I get the chance. I also enjoy going on hikes, playing video games, and exploring the stock market world.

Q:What is something you wish you knew before that you know now?
I wish I took advantage of all the opportunities available to me. When I started college, I was aware of many clubs and programs but I never attended any. However, once I began reaching out and dedicating time to attend meetings and events, I began to see the number of great opportunities available through the clubs and activities. One of them being the First Gen Network community. I truly wish I would have joined sooner. However, I am now excited to have joined this community of students like me.