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  • Writer's pictureLa Voz Latina

Michelle Castro-Lemus

Escrito por: Dulce Ortiz 馃嚞馃嚬

Headshot of Michelle Castro. (Diana Rivera)

At nine years-old, Michelle Castro was asked a question that would determine the trajectory of

her life: 鈥淒o you want to stay in Honduras with me [her mother] or go back to the States, live

with your sister, and do your school there?鈥

Castro siempre fue apasionada por su educaci贸n a trav茅s de las ideas que sus pap谩s, maestros, y

su estatus de estudiante de primera-generaci贸n. Her parents immigrated from Honduras in 2001

and had Castro shortly after in Baltimore. Her idea of a perfect life was crushed following the

deportation of her mother and willing accompaniment of her father in 2009, where they鈥檝e

remained since.

Ella disfruto la vida que podr铆a tener en Honduras, rodeada por su familia y su cultura diversa,

pero decidi贸 regresar a los EE.UU. donde supo que iba tener una mejor educaci贸n.

In the years that followed, Castro fell into a depressive period amidst the major life changes.

鈥淚 had lost my mother and father in the span of two months. And not physically lost, thankfully,

which is in itself something different, but they weren鈥檛 there to support me anymore.鈥

Castro found comfort in her 6th grade math teacher, a mentor she still holds dear. From middle

school to college, her mentor supported her academically, physically, and emotionally.

She received a full ride to UMD through the C.D. Mote Jr. Incentive Awards Program (IAP),

which supports students through mentorship and community involvement.

La pandemia dio un comienzo anormal a su vida universitaria con las regulaciones que hab铆an.

Pero, por el programa IAP, pudo conocer muchas personas, incluyendo dos de sus amigos m谩s

importantes: Diana Rivera y Maximilliano Gonzalez-Cruz.

As restrictions lifted, Castro felt lost within the unfamiliarity of UMD. En su tercer a帽o, quiso

descubrir m谩s sobre ella misma, su comunidad Latina, y su futuro. She joined the Maryland

Latin Dance Company (MLDC) as treasurer, and the Association of Latinx Professionals for

America (ALPFA), becoming the president her senior year.

Fue inspirada a graduarse de la administraci贸n empresarial por su mam谩, despu茅s de haber visto todo lo que pudo lograr con sus propias empresas.

鈥淎t first, it was painful because I had fought so hard to get here and then to feel like I don鈥檛

belong - this idea of imposter syndrome.鈥 said Castro. 鈥淚n joining ALPFA, I was able to be in a

room of Latinos who had proven that they were not only up to par, but even better than some of

the students in [the Smith School].

Castro says her final year was a culmination of feeling comfortable on campus, in her Latina

roots, and in the skills she could bring to the table. She emphasizes that her friends, mentors,

advisors, and family helped her get through college.

鈥淧or ustedes y para ustedes鈥 is the quote she will use on her graduation cap, signifying the

admiration and love she has for her community.

En el futuro, Castro quiere trabajar en consultor铆a o recursos humanos y sabe que todo va a salir


鈥淓ducation has been very important to me. I made that choice at nine years-old and I continue to

make that choice every single day because it鈥檚 not only a choice, it鈥檚 a sacrifice.鈥 said Castro. 鈥淚

think that now that graduation season is coming, I am finally seeing the fruits of my labor and

getting happy and excited over why I made that sacrifice.鈥

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