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Paying it Forward, by Elizabeth Castillo

The first of six daughters to attend college.

*Elizabeth Castillo, Homecoming Queen, Class of 1992, with parents, Abel and Maria Rosales.

When my sister Olga asked me to describe finding my way to college after high school, I didn’t want to talk about our disadvantages. Her own story, Demolition and Spring Break, is a story I loved reading, but one that I don’t exactly remember. Today, I’d like to talk about why I wanted to start this scholarship and what it means to me.

This is a story about the help I received in order to become the first person in our family to attend college. Many inspiring stories of first-generation students who overcame obstacles were made possible by the angels who came into our lives, and those stories are worth telling.

My angel’s name is Tomasita Villarreal, and she was my Spanish teacher at Aptos High School. I remember her for so many reasons, but mainly because I wasn’t the only student who she helped. Her office was always filled with students who looked and talked like me—students from Watsonville who spoke Spang-lish and dressed like Fly-girls. Not only did she help me apply to San Jose State University, but she helped me fill out the infamous FAFSA forms. She was the first person to describe dorm life to me and definitely the first person to tell me that such an experience was attainable.

The Rosales Sisters' Scholarship is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, tax ID #87-1608363. Donate today!