Victor Castro’s journey across the Weatherford College graduation stage this past May began years ago in San Luis, Mexico.
The trek north began when his father, Victoriano Castro Reynaga, left for Texas in the early 2000s leaving behind his wife and two sons. Reynaga immediately began the arduous paperwork process required for his family to immigrate, but it would be a decade before the family was able to reunite in the United States.
Meanwhile, Castro’s mother, Juanita Salazar, remained in Mexico with her sons and worked as a preschool teacher.
Fast forward to 2019, and Reynaga now works at a horse clinic and Salazar is part of the WC kitchen staff, making some of the best salsa and bread pudding found in all of North Texas.
“My coworkers have been very welcoming,” Salazar said. “Back home, teaching was stressful because of the documentations I had to turn in. But here, working with these ladies, it is relaxing.”
Before Salazar could leave her teaching job in San Luis in order to make the move to Texas, she had to ask permission to be relieved of her duties. It took two years for her to make the decision to leave and was finally allowed to make the move after serving one additional year in the classroom.
“I felt torn about leaving the job,” she said. “My parents had worked so hard to give me an education. It was hard to leave it all behind.”
Since moving to Texas, she has been asked about returning to the classroom but her lack of English proficiency makes her nervous to take on the task.
“We have to give the best to the little ones,” Salazar said. “If I can’t give my all to the job, it’s not fair. Now I want to focus on my family and making sure my son completes his education. I felt so proud when Victor graduated. I haven’t done much for my sons, yet they’ve come such a long way.”
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After the move to Texas, Castro started as a seventh grader at Tison Middle School and graduated from Weatherford High School in 2017. Making friends and understanding his teachers was difficult because of the language barrier.
Salazar wanted Castro to attend Weatherford College to better prepare for classes at a university and to work on his English. While at WC, Castro received help from Student Support Services, a federal TRIO program, as well as Catholic Charities. He also had a job as a work study in the Graber Athletic Center and later in the campus police department.
“SSS helped me make goals to pass my classes and to ask questions,” Castro said. “I’m so glad my family came here. It was hard for a long time, but now I understand.”
Kim Hutton, director of SSS, said Castro is the “student every teacher loves to have, the employee every employer is looking for and that one friend to stand by your side through thick and thin.”
“Victor is a person that everyone wants to be around because of his great personality and beautiful smile that lights up the room,” she said. “He works hard in everything he does in the classroom, job and in the SSS program – always going over and beyond to be helpful just because he is awesome and not to impress anyone but to just be the best he can be.”
Salazar is thankful for the assistance Castro received during his time at WC.
“I’m very proud that although my husband and myself haven’t been able to help as much in his education that other people are able to see the value in my son,” she said.
Castro starts classes at the University of Texas at Arlington this fall where he is studying exercise science. His goal is to become a physical therapist and work in a hospital.
“This wouldn’t have been possible for him in Mexico,” Salazar said.
Doug Jefferson, associate dean of student development, spent time with Castro while he was employed as a work study in the college gym. He bragged on Castro’s work ethic, calling him dependable, respectful and courteous.
“It has been a blessing to have him work in the gym, game room, and assist with intramural and recreational sports here at Weatherford College,” Jefferson said. “He is doing well in his academics, too. I hate to see him leave, but I know he must move on to the next stage in his educational journey. He will be a great asset at UTA.”
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NOTE: A translator was present at the interview with Juanita Salazar.