Graduation at Edgewood College
Life Changing Experiences
Mathias Lemos Castillo is Dreamer and is
graduating from Edgeood College with majors in
science and sociology. Below: Castillo’s cap
reveals his future intentions
Castillo will take some time off from his studies when he graduated. Right now, he is working on inclusion and diversity issues at CUNA Mutual Group with Angela
Russell and others. He hopes to stay on there before he makes his next move.

“I want to study for the LSAT and the GRE,” Castillo said. “While I work and manage that, I will be better able to succeed at those two exams and figure out if I want
to do the law path or the master’s degree. Right now, I’m okay with either one of them. But I know there is that exam to go through and stuff I have to do. So I want to
be mindful of the decision I make in how I move forward. I’ll give myself 1-2 years as a gap and then go back to school either here in Madison or in Milwaukee. I
would like to stay here to continue to work with the community. I’ve been working with students. I’m looking getting involved in politics at some point. That is
something that I am really passionate about. Through the political science classes at Edgewood, I’ve really done a lot of projects that could carry on through actually
projects in the city.”

Who knows? Perhaps someday, Castillo will be in the halls of the State Capitol or Congress crafting legislation that will give immigrants of all stripes a real
opportunity to chase their American Dream. Dreams do happen and Dreamers do succeed. Just ask Mathias Lemos Castillo.
By Jonathan Gramling

The last four years have been a life-changing experience for Edgewood Community Scholar Mathias Lemos
Castillo. Perhaps Castillo was looking at life with blinders on when he came to Edgewood College or looked at
his life in a narrow context. But by the time he left Edgewood, Castillo had been changed by national events and
his passion to make a course correction, so to speak.

“I think I came in my freshman year looking at biology and computer science degree wise,” Castillo said. “But
over the last four years, I’ve changed and now I am a political science and sociology major. The last four years
changed my fields. I changed my fields about six times I want to say. I’ve gone through a number of different
explorations. Due to the scholars program, I was able to explore and cultivate that environment where I could
take a class and not worry too much about what I was going to get out of it degree-wise. I could explore different
options. I found myself to be a person who truly likes to do varied things. I found the things that I am truly
passionate about. And I think that was a great experience for me because it’s hard to make up my mind
sometimes.  You take a class and you’re like, ‘Oh, I like this.’ I took a computer science class and I wanted to
do that field and I took a science class and I hated it. That wasn’t for me anymore. At one point, I was liking
Spanish, but I wanted to challenge myself. Once I came across sociology, that kind of really drove into my

Castillo’s own work in the community drove his search for his purpose in life.

“I was getting involved in the community back then through various members,” Castillo said. “And here at the
Edgewood community, I was establishing myself as a sophomore. I was the president of the Association of
Latinos/Latinas Students. Working with ALAS and the community, I really found a sense of myself and I was
analyzing the disparities in our city and community. I was wondering what we could do as students and individuals to better it. I really saw it through my sociology
class. Then I realized that I was really into the political aspect of it and wanted to start taking political science classes. I noticed that it was the right field for me. That
was halfway through my sophomore year. In my junior year, I was taking all political science classes and sociology classes. I finished one of the degrees by the end
of my junior year. In my senior year, I was focusing mainly on the second one, which was the political science. I was able to complete the two majors all within the
four years, even after changing back and forth.”

By the time that he became a junior, Castillo found himself to be someone others were looking up to.

“I saw myself as a leader,” Castillo said. “I was a mentor to a lot of students. In my junior and senior years was when I was meeting with students, helping them out
and guiding them to make it easier for them whether it was through classes, registering for the right courses. We have a tag system here at Edgewood, so I had to
manage that system. So a science class might be an S, which is in the lab. But you also need two of those. If you are taking writing, can you fit in another tag that also
fits in literature? Those are the things that help you manage the college and make sure that everyone is leaving in four years. You can get two requirements done with
one class. Sometimes you can get three. That’s the reason why I got the two majors. In my first two years, I stacked up on tags taking classes with different
backgrounds. A lot of the classes have dual tags. That’s something that I caught on to at the start and I got some help from my mentors.”
Castillo is a Dreamer, a DACA student. And when Donald Trump got elected president during Castillo’s junior
year, it added a lot of pressure. But being a leader actually helped Castillo deal with the anti-immigrant fervor.

“I saw a slight dent in my grades just because it was hard to focus,” Castillo said. “I really tried to pick myself
up with it. But in my senior year, I know it was difficult, but I wanted to realize that I was an established leader
here on campus and people were looking up to me. I had to pick myself up and show them that we can still
move forward. It was through the community I knew that I was leading it, but at the same time, they were leading
me. That’s how I was able to move forward. The last two years have been difficult, but I think I am ready to keep
pushing. I’m less than a year away from having to renew. As January came around, it was the one-year mark. As
we get closer to January 2019, I think about it more. I am really grateful to the community here at Edgewood.
They really put me at ease and they have been very supportive. I see the DACAs really fighting for it and that
gives me the energy to keep fighting and keep making sure that here, even on a small campus, students are
realizing they have a voice and they need to keep moving forward without being afraid.”