(HARLINGEN) – Sughei Castillo was one of nearly 400 students who realized a life-long dream last night during Texas State Technical College’s commencement ceremony at the Harlingen Municipal Auditorium.
The Lasara native, only the second in her family to graduate from college, earned a certificate in vocational nursing.
This is a career she was first introduced to in middle school, but was fully inspired to pursue it when she would watch her mother care for her grandfather while he fought a battle with lung cancer.
“I’m drawn to this profession and being able to help someone is so gratifying,” said Castillo.
Most recently, as close as she was to reaching her goal, a family tragedy almost got in the way.
A fire destroyed the 23-year-old’s family home a month ago. Her family lost everything and today they have no home to call their own. .
With only the clothes on her back, Castillo was ready to quit school and find a job to help her family replace what was lost, but with the support from her mother she returned to TSTC the very next day.
“I was devastated. And I didn’t see how I could continue school while my family struggled,” she said. “But my mother, the woman I aspire to be when I grow up, was searching for a way to replace my uniforms that same day. How could I let her down?”
Castillo credits her success after the fire to her instructors and classmates who pulled together to collect donations and organize a fundraiser for Castillo and her family.
TSTC even donated a dorm room so she could make it to her last three weeks of the semester and save the money she would use on gas for her 30-minute drive to class.
“I entered this program alone, but I’m leaving with a family,” said Castillo. “They (classmates) donated uniforms, money, toiletries – everything we needed to stand up again. I am so blessed to have these people in my life. God knew why he put them there.”
Castillo is once again looking forward to her future.
After passing her national licensing exam, Castillo hopes to find employment at Solara Hospital in Harlingen to start saving up for a home for her family and a bachelor’s degree in nursing.
Ultimately, she hopes to become a nurse practitioner.
“TSTC and the vocational nursing program have opened doors of opportunities for me,” she said. “All of the training I have received has prepared me to work, be successful and continue my education. My possibilities now are limitless.”
Castillo’s mother Lidia Castillo said she is so proud of everything her daughter has accomplished and overcome so far.
“I’m so blessed to be her mother,” said Lidia. “I admire her strength to rise, ambition to overcome challenges and her will to move forward. I call her my warrior and will always be here to support her 100 percent.”
Castillo said although her family’s situation is not ideal, and she wishes she was headed to a home of their own after commencement, she still has a lot to be thankful for.
“Material items come and go. I just thank God that my family is safe, I have them by side and God has blessed us with more than we probably deserve.”
More than 1,000 TSTC students across the state earned certificates or associate degrees during TSTC’s Summer 2017 commencement ceremonies.
For more information on vocational nursing or TSTC, visit tstc.edu.