Ana Campa Castillo, who will graduate from Joliet Junior College this month with an associate degree in psychology, is this year’s recipient of the Outstanding Leadership Award by the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs (OMSA).
It’s been quite a semester for Campa Castillo, from attending the State of the Union Address and interviewing with multiple media outlets about her DACA status to learning all her expenses will be paid in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree at National Louis University.
“My goal was just getting an associate and becoming a case worker and that was it,” she said.
But Campa Castillo, with the encouragement of OMSA Multicultural Pathway Coach Martha Villegas Miranda, applied for the competitive Dream U.S. Scholarship and was awarded $29,000 to complete her bachelor’s degree.
“So all I can say to you is take a shot,” she told attendees at the OMSA Recognition Banquet on May 4. “If you feel like you can do it, go for it, put the effort in and you’ll see many rewards.”
Campa Castillo, who is married and a mother of two, is a first-generation student and recipient of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, or DREAMer. In January, she served as the guest of Illinois Congressman Bill Foster at the State of the Union Address in Washington, D.C.
Campa Castillo is a Phi Theta Kappa honors society student, and has served on various leadership positions in the community including the Southwest Suburban Immigrant Project and the Spanish Community Center.
“From the very beginning, I was always impressed with how she conducted herself in a very mature and professional manner,” said OMSA’s Villegas Miranda while presenting Campa Castillo with The Outstanding Leadership Award.
The honor is given to a JJC student who has excelled academically, evolved as a student leader and has served the JJC and external community.
“She is an extraordinarily gifted young woman who is destined to have a considerable impact within her sphere of influence,” said Villegas Miranda. “It's been an honor mentoring and guiding her on her educational and life journey.”
In accepting the award, Campa Castillo told the audience that getting a college education wasn’t initially her goal. She was caring for a five-year-old at the time, and earning a decent wage working management full-time at a retail outlet. But, Campa Castillo said, she knew there was more she could do.
“So I decided to enroll for one class and, and another class and decided to become a full-time student,” Campa Castillo said.
Campa Castillo didn’t rush in and didn’t feel pressured to do so, she said.
“I found JJC very comforting and I found not only academic support from my professors but within our staff.”
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