Joliet Junior College student Ana Campa Castillo’s first trip to the nation’s capital will be as an invited guest at the annual State of the Union address.
Castillo will graduate from JJC in May with an associate degree in psychology. On Tuesday, Jan. 30, she’ll watch President Donald Trump’s speech from inside the U.S. House chamber as the guest of 11th District Congressman Bill Foster.
“It’s overwhelming at times. I still can’t believe it. It’s a great privilege to have been invited,” Castillo said. “I feel confident in myself and other DREAMers that we’re able to make an impactful change that’s going to be remembered. I’m grateful to be part of this and to be representing a district and various communities that I’ve been working with.”
The 26-year-old, first-generation student is a recipient of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, or DREAMer. She arrived in the United States 20 years ago from Mexico City. Castillo graduated from Bolingbrook High School in 2009, and since 2012 has been active in the immigration rights movement. That’s the year she attended a DACA workshop at Chicago’s Navy Pier.
“I saw the hundreds of thousands of people there gathered and noticed there is a lot to work on, a lot of work needed still to move forward. After that I started joining not only to benefit my family but many more families out there.”
She’s volunteered at the Southwest Suburban Immigrant Project (SSIP) in Bolingbrook and the Spanish Community Center in Joliet. At JJC, where Castillo enrolled in 2015, she serves as vice president of Latinos Unidos.
Castillo credits officials with JJC’s Multicultural Student Affairs Department for helping her feel welcome and connecting her to various groups and resources.
“Professors making time to meet with me one on one has been a lot of help, too. Especially when you feel overwhelmed as a student with the work load.”
Castillo is married and the mother of two children, ages 9 and 1.
Prior to attending JJC, Castillo spent her post high school years in the retail industry. She later served as an elementary school paraprofessional. It was there Castillo says she began to witness the challenges facing students and their families. In her pursuit of a psychology degree from JJC, Castillo hopes to bring more awareness to mental health services, especially within the Latino population, through bilingual education.
“There’s a lot of need for that intermediate person to help bring the services that are available to the families that need them. Since the language is a big barrier, I feel I can help build a bridge between the community and the services,” she said.
“I’m proud of the thousands of DREAMers who have come forward to share their stories,” Rep. Foster said. “The work that Ana has done is just one of the examples of the great contributions these young people make to our society.”
The State of the Union address will take place on Tuesday, Jan. 30.
For more information contact Scott Harvey, communications and media coordinator, at 815-280-2844 or email@example.com.