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Army veteran finds natural fit in ASU global studies program

Army veteran and global studies major at ASU, Carla Castillo

Army veteran and ASU global studies major Carla Castillo.

October 16, 2018

Arizona State University student Carla Castillo likes to do her research before making big decisions, and that included determining what her major would be. Upon reading the academic plan for global studies, she knew she had found a natural fit.

“Yes, global studies, that’s me,” said Castillo.

Growing up, Castillo spent time in Denver and El Paso, Texas, before settling in Phoenix. She attended North High School, where she participated in JROTC and learned from various law enforcement professionals through the school’s Metro Tech Program.

After graduation in 2002, upon the heels of 9/11, Castillo enlisted into the U.S. Army. She would go on to serve over nine years. During one year of her deployment, Castillo was stationed in Egypt, where 11 different countries were represented.

“I consider myself sort of a global citizen,” Castillo said. “I love meeting new people, being engaged with new cultures and new languages. That is all very interesting to me.”

Once back in Arizona, Castillo started taking classes at Phoenix College. Although she knew that eventually she wanted to go to ASU, Castillo was unsure of which major she wanted. While researching degrees related to international studies, she found the Bachelor of Arts in global studies within the School of Politics and Global Studies.

“While in the military, you have all sorts of cultures, backgrounds and races,” said Castillo. “It just seemed like a natural step.”

With the help of the Veterans Upward,Bound Program through ASU TRIO, she transferred to ASU.

According to Castillo, she has a curious personality, so ASU’s transfer days and welcome week were a treasure trove of information. She quickly formed relationships with other veterans and enrolled in multiple student organizations.

One of the organizations Castillo joined was the Hispanic Business Association. The idea of a business club initially seemed like an odd fit for Castillo, but she decided to give it a try. After a few meetings, she participated in networking events, career fairs and other opportunities that she normally would not have taken advantage of.

Castillo had to limit her participation to three clubs for now even though she has interest in 10.

One of the key attractions to the global studies degree for Castillo was the internship programs hosted within the School of Politics and Global Studies. Knowing that she wanted to participate in a program — if not more — she quickly introduced herself to Gisela Grant, an internship coordinator within the school.

“Ms. Grant really is my mentor now,” said Castillo. “She has so much knowledge and experience. She does an awesome job of sharing that with students.”

Castillo is currently working with Grant to embark on a study abroad experience — a requirement for global studies majors. She wanted to challenge herself and study in a country that doesn’t speak English or Spanish but still had warmer weather. She eventually landed on France. Next spring, Castillo will participate in Sciences Po Aix where she will take classes that have a global aspect.

With spring 2019 accounted for, Castillo is already setting her sights on 2020 where she is looking to participate in the Policy Design Studio and Internship Program. She recently attended a Q&A event with Ambassador Edward O’Donnell from the McCain Institute to learn more about the program in Washington, D.C.

“I only have two years and there’s all these programs, internships and opportunities,” said Castillo. “It’s important to be engaged.”

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