Luis Castillo is a former Upward Bound (UB) student (1999- 2001) and former UB mentor for Luciano Guzman, a UB graduate from Central High School. Luis has a bachelor’s degree in Professional Communication from Metro State University and is currently attending Augsburg College, pursuing a master’s degree in Leadership. He works at InterBank, which is a community bank here in the Twin Cities, and has been there more than six years. His job responsibilities range from managing daily branch operations to employee training. Luis and his wife reside in St. Paul. He has a younger brother, Osbaldo, who is also a former UB student and is working on his undergraduate degree at Augsburg College.Heather Campbell was the acting director when Luis participated in UB, and he commends her dedication to the UB mission. Mari Tototzintle, who is now the director for UB, was his academic advisor at the time.
Luis says of Mari, “She was always (and still is) a fun and caring person, always more than willing to help her students. She has always been very approachable, which is an important trait for a UB director. The other thing to keep in mind,” he says, ”is that Mari always manages to catch you when you’re up to no good, so that in itself is a good reason to behave!”Luis remembers being anxious every spring because he couldn’t wait for the summer program to begin. Among favorite activities were the science class in which he built model bridges and tested their strength. His bridge won the “sturdy contest” that year! He also enjoyed the yearly variety show. By the time the variety show was put together, everyone was comfortable enough to perform onstage in front of peers. He always enjoyed being onstage entertaining all the “peeps” at UB.
Luis told us, “UB changed my life. I don’t think I would have had the same level of motivation and determination to go to college, if it weren’t for this program.” He grew up in a household where he was always encouraged to go to school and pursue aspirations. However, his mother raised four children by herself and didn’t have the means to send them to college. He realized that you don’t need $50,000 upfront in order to go to college. Through UB, he learned about financial aid and other tools. “The staff at UB guided me through every step of the way and got me onto the right track. Now, I’ve received my bachelor’s degree and I’m working on my master’s. I owe this to all the support and encouragement that I received from UB, not to mention my family’s, as well. Everyone played a key role in my educational success and I am forever thankful for programs like this.”
Luis has enjoyed mentoring for UB; he says it’s an honor for him to give back to the program. He also stated, “It’s so nice to know that UB is still moving forward with its mission and sending dozens of kids to college every year.”
His advice to UB students is simple: Be Persistent. “Persistence pays off in the end and it’s the equivalent to not giving up. Follow your aspirations, fulfill your goals and stay true to yourself. Always keep in mind that your education is your key to your future. You’ll need it to open many doors. Without an education, those doors may never open.”