W&J senior headed to Teach for America

Created: December 10, 2018
Last Updated: January 10, 2020

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WASHINGTON, PA (Dec. 10, 2018)—Washington & Jefferson College (W&J) senior Carolina Castillo ’19 earned a place with Teach For America beginning next fall.

Carolina will be in a bilingual elementary classroom in her hometown of Houston, Texas. There, she’ll educate young students who may come from non-English speaking homes—a goal she’s had since she herself was a young girl in a similar situation.

“I’m the oldest of five children, and growing up, my parents didn’t speak English at the house, so I learned it in school starting in third grade,” Carolina said. “I was in Spanish-speaking classes through second grade, and in third grade when it switched, I was in a bilingual classroom. If I didn’t know what something meant, I could ask for a translation. In fourth grade, I transitioned again to an only English-speaking class. It was hard to go from some Spanish to none, and no one at home could help me, either. When my younger siblings started school, they were in bilingual education, and I saw the benefit for them. I want to help students who may have the same struggles I did.”

Carolina’s goal of teaching influenced her college search. She knew of W&J because of the College’s partnership with YES Prep, the public charter school system she attended through high school, and she soon embarked on an overnight visit to campus. Her host was another YES Prep graduate, and soon she found herself in a community at W&J that checked on each other and offered support during the college transition and throughout her time at school.

Through her majors in Spanish and childhood development and education, Carolina was able to intern in two elementary classrooms, as well as an English as a Second Language (ESL) classroom at Trinity High School. Her experiences have prepared her to achieve her dreams of teaching in a bilingual classroom.

“I’m excited. I know a lot of people are nervous about taking the next step after college, and I understand that, but I’m so excited because I know I’m going to be doing exactly what I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid,” she said.

Teach For America places recent college graduates in low-income schools across the nation as teachers. The program is highly selective and competitive, with an average acceptance rate of about 15 percent.

About Washington & Jefferson College

Washington & Jefferson College, located in Washington, Pa., is a selective liberal arts college founded in 1781. Committed to providing each of its students with the highest-quality undergraduate education available, W&J offers a traditional arts and sciences curriculum emphasizing interdisciplinary study and independent study work. For more information about W&J, visit www.washjeff.edu, or call 888-W-AND-JAY

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