When kids head to Disneyland, they typically go for the iconic characters or the thrills or the sheer spectacle of hanging out at what remains a pretty magical place. Marina Castillo, ASWU Vice President of Student Organizations and a senior Filmmaking major from Arroyo High in El Monte and Mt. San Antonio College, remembers her visits a bit differently.
“I have a love for musicals and live entertainment,” she explains. “Whenever I went to Disneyland, I would only watch the shows and as I memorized them, I moved on to watching the audience watch the shows. It would always amaze me how the expression of wonder on an adult’s face was the same as that on a child’s.”
When it came time to choose a professional track, Marina wanted to do something that would take that epiphany a step or two further. “I found myself looking for a more digital approach in hopes of preserving what captured and held the attention of everyone watching,” she says. “It all boils down to storytelling, as cliché as that sounds. I don’t have to be the one telling the story — it’s about being a part of bringing these different pieces together to make something bigger than itself.”
Filmmaking became the obvious choice and the thesis film requirement the first gauntlet. “When looking at the task list, it seemed pretty impossible for one person to do it all by themselves,” she recalls. “The thing about the film industry is that it’s entirely collaborative, so yes, you’re responsible for your own thesis but you’re also obliged to work on others’ projects. Everyone gets hands-on experiences in different positions, which all goes back to the basic lesson of teamwork.”
Teamwork is likewise the mantra outside the classroom, where Marina – and her sister and fellow ASWU Executive Board member Melissa – have been making their mark. “My role as VP of Student Organizations is to be a resource for students who want to start new organizations, renew existing groups, and help them thrive,” she says. “I also plan to look into the organizations that have died off to see if enough students are interested in bringing them back. My goal is to help these associations in any way I can.” Her organizational spirit isn’t limited to ASWU. Marina also serves as Vice President, Sigma Omega Nu Latina Interest Sorority, and is both a SOAR Peer Advisor and an Academic Peer Mentor.
Having previously served on the Campus Activities Board, she became the intern for the VP of Student Organizations “because I wanted to know the ins and outs of the position before deciding to run for office. I kept asking myself, ‘how can I make my mark on this school?’ Then, I realized it was the wrong question. The real question was, ‘do you want to help the orgs and the students succeed?’”
Enamored of Woodbury’s “tight-knit community” and “homey” campus, Marina describes extracurricular activities as “the easiest way to learn leadership, time management and organizational skills, all of which are essential not only for starting a career but for life in general.”
“Before I transferred here, I was taking classes at Mt. Sac but wasn’t taking it seriously,” she says. “When I arrived at Woodbury, I was still unsure about this being what I wanted but once I got out of my comfort zone, started learning and getting involved, I was able to create a path for myself and navigate through the waters, if you will. I feel like I have a sense of direction now. I’m about to start an internship in a production office on the Warner lot. All of the activities along the way have been essential stepping stones.”