Spotlight - Marlene Castro
Incentive Awards Program Scholar Marlene Castro: Back to middle school, on a mission
Berkeley News Center Story - May 16, 2013
Marlene Castro loved learning, but life in East Palo Alto and Redwood City, where her family alternately lived, made it tough. In an environment of gangs, weapons and school lockdowns, the high-achieving student was bullied constantly in middle school and high school – even jumped on and beaten.
“I was definitely a minority and a target,” said Castro, 22, whose parents came to the United States from Jalisco, Mexico. “To be safe after school, I eventually joined College Track,” an off-site program that widened her horizons with information about options for college and financial aid.
Castro decided to apply to UC Berkeley after a recruiter visited her high school from the campus’s Incentive Awards Program, which provides scholarships and support resources for low-income, first-generation students with leadership potential, good grades and a commitment to serve others.
Today, Castro is one of only five students from her former middle school who made it to college. After getting her diploma from UC Berkeley this spring and finding leadership positions with the Cal Corps Public Service Center office and the Incentive Awards Program, she aims to change those odds for youth by joining Teach for America and becoming “a teacher, a principal, a school superintendent, and sitting on a board of education for my community.”