CWI Student Makes the Most of Long Distance Opportunity

Published: October 12, 2016

Andrew Castro knows how life changing a long-distance move can be. At eight years old, Castro’s parents relocated him and his four siblings 2,500 miles from White Plains, New York to Nampa, Idaho. Although it was a big undertaking, it provided a lifestyle change the family was looking for.

Fast forward 11 years, Castro has embarked on another 2,000-plus mile journey that could also have life-long impact. The College of Western Idaho (CWI) sophomore was selected to spend the fall semester working as an intern for United States Senator Jim Risch in Washington, D.C. Castro is one of just three students selected for the internship, and the only one currently attending a community college.

“I saw the email and my heart nearly exploded,” Castro recalls. “I was certainly enthusiastic and humbled.”

While Castro was surprised to receive the news, his resume certainly made him a strong candidate. The CWI Political Science major graduated from Columbia High School in 2015 with a 3.9 grade point average. He served as president of the school’s Theatre Club, while also being elected Student Body President as a senior and student representative three times. As if that weren’t enough, as a senior he also competed on Columbia’s speech and debate team.

“I loved serving as a sort of liaison between those above me and the students I represented. Columbia, and its amazing leadership and faculty as a whole, helped to nurture my passions and talents.”

His experience serving others inspired Castro to pursue a career in public office. Although his current political opportunity didn’t come without a push from one of his instructors at CWI.

“I was hesitant to give up my comfort in Nampa, Idaho to pursue my goals in Washington, D.C.  Without [CWI Assistant Professor] Rob Harbaugh’s persistence I can say for sure I would not be here because I did not first seek the internship; in many ways, the internship found me. Rob has been beyond influential and has served as a mentor beyond compare. This internship materialized because of Rob’s diligence.”

Thanks to Harbaugh’s encouragement Castro applied and completed the interview process. The rest is history. Through incredible fundraising support from his friends and family, Castro is living in D.C. through mid-December. He is excited for the opportunities that will be realized in the next few months.

“Such an experience will open many connections to the D.C. area that can be utilized later in my life. I want to pursue a political science degree and eventually serve in elected office. Whether that’s the people of Idaho, or perhaps in a broader context, I know the possibilities have only begun.”

When Castro returns to campus, he expects to have one semester left. He plans to compete with CWI’s Speech and Debate team in the spring. Castro hasn’t decided where he will transfer but he is confident he will be fully prepared for wherever life takes him next; regardless if it is near or far.

“I've enjoyed my education from [CWI]. My classes thus far have helped challenge my writing abilities and critical thinking all the while helping me to better understand why it is I believe what I believe. I can't think of a better goal from a college than that.”

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