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Teresa Castro smiles while standing in her office building.

Former Student Body President Finds New Way to Support Her Peers

As a student, Teresa Castro, ’21, represented students through her work with student government and organizations. Now, she has returned to UNC to represent both students and alumni as assistant director of Alumni Relations.

Teresa Castro, ’21, moved to Colorado with her family as a senior in high school. Like many students, where she would attend university largely depended on where she received the most financial aid.

“As I always tell everyone, UNC really chose me,” said Castro.

Having so recently moved to a new state, it was important for Castro to attend a school that could offer her in-state tuition, but her decision to attend UNC was primarily influenced by the diversity she experienced when coming to campus, the academic options that interested her and the proximity of campus to her home community of Aurora.

Once on UNC’s campus, it didn’t take long for Castro to develop her own UNC community.

“I got very involved with the institution. I went to all these different events because I wanted to find my family, my home away from home, and I feel like I did just that,” said Castro.

Getting involved with her sorority, Pi Lambda Chi Latina Sorority, Inc., working at the Marcus Garvey Cultural Center, participating in the Stryker Institute for Leadership Development and serving in Student Government as chief of staff played a huge role in creating a sense of belonging for Castro on campus. Student Government became particularly important to Castro, giving her the foundation of knowledge and confidence to run for student body president in her final year on campus.

“I think that was the most rewarding experience—being the first openly gay, Afro-Latina student body president. It was super empowering for me to be that representation for students who looked like me and identified like me,” said Castro.

In her role as student body president, Castro’s focus was to bridge the gap between administration and the student body. Working to ensure that students, especially those from minoritized or traditionally underserved backgrounds, were represented and supported on campus. Through serving on different institution-wide task forces and subcommittees, Castro brought the concerns of students to administrators who had the power to effect change.

Through her education and extracurricular activities, Castro honed skills that enabled her to not only advocate for but connect with her peers. Now, as assistant director of Alumni Relations, she uses these skills every day to connect with UNC graduates. While Castro’s abilities, achievements and position were earned through her hard work and dedication, she acknowledges that her UNC education helped to propel her into a career she loves at an institution she wholeheartedly supports.

“I would not be where I am or who I am without my UNC education,” said Castro.

That’s a large part of why she chose to come back and work at UNC.

“I have always wanted to give back to this institution because I feel like it poured into me,” said Castro. “It poured into who I am through mentorship and the different organizations and programs that I was a part of.”

Castro uses her time to help alumni connect with their alma mater in the ways that are most meaningful to them. Whether that be writing cards to prospective students, participating on a career panel or volunteering at an event, she will consider an alum’s location, expertise and how much time they’d like to spend engaging with UNC and its students. The central theme that permeates how Castro engages with alumni is putting students first. It’s a core aspect of why she is so passionate about her work with alumni.

“I truly believe that we are a student's first institution and if I, and fellow alumni, can be a part of that change, that growth, that trajectory, that's what I’d like to spend my time doing,” said Castro.

Bridging the gap between students and alumni is integral to fostering the “Once a Bear, Always a Bear” sentiment with students that has been present on UNC campus for years. It’s that very sentiment that Castro and so many alumni cherished about their time on campus, and thanks to her work in alumni relations, many others will undoubtedly cherish that same experience for years to come.

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