Class of 2018: McIntire Grad from Nicaragua Creates Family on Grounds

May 16, 2018
Maria Castillo

Family is everything to McIntire student Maria Ernestina Castillo (McIntire ’18).

Her middle name, Ernestina, goes back four generations, to the grandmother of her grandmother, who owned a retail store and was one of the first female entrepreneurs in Nicaragua. “That name gives me so much pride,” she says.

Although coming to UVA was hard for Castillo because she was no longer near her loved ones, she made another family, here on Grounds.

After two years as a member of McIntire’s Latino Student Network, Castillo took a leadership role, first as vice president and then, this year, as president. But she’s more than just head of the student organization. Many of the organization’s 50 members “joke around and say that I am the mom of LSN,” she says.

During her time as LSN president, Castillo organized employers’ visits for information sessions, helped lead résumé workshops for students and, most importantly, focused on relationship-building within the organization.

To strengthen mentor-mentee relationships within LSN, Castillo made it a requirement that before the tandems could attend events, they had to send her a photo of them having fun—and not at school.

“We want to help them academically, but also emotionally,” Castillo says of the mentor-mentee relationships. “We want to be there for them. We want them to know there is this community within (McIntire) that is willing and wants to help them succeed.”

Soon, after graduation, Castillo will be only a two-hour flight from home, having accepted a position in Miami with JP Morgan, in the company’s Latin division of asset and wealth management.

“For me, family is the most important thing in life,” Castillo says. “Family is the priority.”

Read the full UVA Today story about how Castillo created a home away from home at McIntire and a family of friends and professors while at UVA.