Jose Castillo Talks about His Journey to a College Degree

By University of Arkansas Grantham

online student testimonial Jose CastilloQ: Why did you decide to earn a degree?

A: My father was born in Cuba, and I remember him telling me his father said he could be anything he wanted to be, as long as it was a doctor or lawyer. This may sound a bit funny, but my father always had a vision of sending me off to medical school and taking over the practice. We would spend hours and hours talking about post high school education, where I wanted to go to school, etc. Truth be known, I was not ready for college when I graduated high school. I enrolled at the University of Florida and found it did not fit what “I” wanted to do. So I joined the Navy!

I found this to be just what I needed to mature and grow as a young man who was in need of direction. I had some very good education mentors and they let me know that it was okay not to know what I wanted to major in, but to at least start taking classes. So I did, and before long, I was well on my way.

Between one thing or another, getting married, having kids, etc., education got away from me. I retired after 23 years of service in 2007 and found I was FINALLY ready to finish school.

I have always wanted to graduate from college and this has always been a strong feeling I have had. Why now so late? It is NEVER too late! I have five children who I preach education to and it is hard for me to expect them to take me seriously when I have not practiced what I have been preaching. UA Grantham has allowed them to see the late hours I put in and when they complain about their homework, I just tell them to “Look at Dad!!!”

Thank you UA Grantham!

Q: Why did you choose UA Grantham?

A: Before retiring, I spoke with my educational service officer, and she suggested a few schools, one of which was Grantham. I called the three schools and Grantham is the only one I felt was not just after my money. They made me feel like I mattered and more importantly, my desires mattered!

Once I contacted UA Grantham, I KNEW it was a perfect fit! To me it was a no brainer. They had the perfect online degree program for me that fit my personality and my educational goals.

Q: What did you enjoy the most about distance learning?

A: Distance learning allowed me to take 1 or 2 classes at a time and really set my own schedule that supported class assignments. Due to my work load, I found taking one class at a time fit best. My Student Advisor touched base with me regularly to ensure I was comfortable and offered to help in any way possible.

My instructors were extremely supportive as well. My work sometimes conflicted with my class schedule and they were more than willing to work with me. This was a huge stress reliever for me and I greatly enjoyed my relationships with them and my classmates.

Q: What, if anything, surprised you about distance learning?

A: At some point I realized that the traditional “brick and mortar” college may not be right for me. When I first was researching colleges, I was a bit intimidated. I was not sure how well I would adapt to the virtual classroom. What I realized was quite different! I actually thrived in this environment! The Grantham website was easy to navigate, LOADED with resources, and it got to where I could not wait to log on at night and get some class work done!

Q: Now that you’ve graduated, what do you plan to do with your degree?

A: After I completed my B.S. degree, I started my online Master’s degree program in January 2012! I am not quite sure when I will need my credentials; however, I want to place myself in the best light when the moment presents itself.

The economy has been so poor the past few years, and a lot of people who have been out of work have returned to school. That means there are more people with education out there that are potentially my competition when it comes to job hunting. I currently have a wonderful job that I do not intend to leave, but should the future necessitate I have to compete for a job, my B.S. and future MBA degrees will allow me to be quite competitive!

Q: Tell us about your family and your career.

A: I was born in Spain and grew up the oldest of three children. My father was a doctor and my mother was a stay at home mom. I enjoyed a very happy childhood in a loving home, which has made raising my own children oh so much easier. I am married and we have three kids ranging in age from 22 to 13.

I enjoy coaching our son in baseball and football and can’t imagine not doing this even long after he grows up and moves on. I have always enjoyed teaching others how to do things and share knowledge. My hobbies include ham radio, golf, hunting, as well as fishing.

I really have only had a few jobs in my life, ranging from DJ for 25+ years, the US Navy for 23, and have had two jobs “Post Navy” which were with a government contractor (I found was not for me), and where I am now. Currently, I am an operations leader for a worldwide corporation and truly feel it is THE perfect job for me. I like to be in control of everything and this position allows me to do just that!

Q: Please tell us anything else that you’d like current and potential students to know.

A: I think the biggest take away for me is to not quit! Once you start taking classes, just keep at it and don’t stop. It is very hard to get started again once you take “a break.” DON’T DO IT! You have to find the energy to keep going and find a way. Forge your own future and don’t give up.

Don’t be intimidated by online college; by all means, reach out for assistance if that is what you need. Everyone is different and I do know of those who had ‘issues;’ however, it is important to use the resources Grantham makes available to you. You are expected to act like a college student, and college students must do what is most advantageous to successfully complete a class for the best possible grade.

I had a goal of completing college with a greater than 3.75 GPA and I can say I met my goal. My 3.80+ GPA is something I am very proud of. If I can do it, anyone can do it!

Don’t wait until it really is too late. Sign up, get going, and start smiling!!!

To all my advisors, instructors, and IT support staff – Please know there are a few of out here that REALLY do appreciate what you do for students. I very much appreciate the commitment, dedication, and patience YOU have to do what you do! Thank you so very much for making a dream come true for me!

Grantham ROCKS!!

Jose Castillo
U.S. Navy, Retired
Bachelor of Science Multidisciplinary Studies
Pursuing a Master of Business Administration – Project Management

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University of Arkansas Grantham
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