Truth be told, at times, students don’t choose their majors as much as their majors choose them.
That just might have been the case with Animation major Melissa Castillo, ASWU VP of Student Life, who acknowledges that Animation wasn’t her abiding passion when her college career began.
“Admittedly, I jumped many times from major to major, trying to pick the right one for me and, if I’m honest, Animation was never on the table,” she says. It wasn’t until she took a few art classes at Mount San Antonio College in Walnut that the discipline clicked into place.
“I always drew when I was growing up, but never thought to make a career out of it,” Melissa recalls. “After those classes, I was willing to take a leap of faith and continue in that direction, which led me to Woodbury.” In addition to pursuing her interest in layout, she has now embarked on a career in Visual Development, Concept Art, Layout, and Background Painting.
Like her sister Marina, Student Organizations VP and a fellow ASWU Executive Board member, Melissa graduated from Arroyo High in El Monte and Mt. Sac. Noting that Woodbury’s “very welcoming” vibe won her over, she reports being particularly impressed by a professor who had just joined the faculty. “He was the most honest professor I have ever had,” she says. “He gave quality constructive criticism that helped challenge and ultimately improve my technique and creativity, something I was struggling with prior to taking the class. I found my specific career path during the class — that’s how influential it was.”
As Vice President of Student Life, Melissa is in charge of staging on-campus events for the undergraduate student body. Conveniently, she also chairs the Campus Activities Board, the committee that helps plan and execute the events. “For me, joining student government has opened doors that are not available to other students,” she says. “From leadership conventions to being able to work closely with faculty and staff, the position has enabled me to gain a certain type of professionalism that I didn’t have before.”
“I view ASWU as an opportunity to be an advocate for students who aren’t involved or don’t know what we do,” she says. “Students can come to me, as an Executive Board member, for any concerns they may have. ASWU is a student-run organization that has one priority — to better the student experience by any reasonable means. I wanted to have that chance to do so.”
From her position with ASWU, and her role in handling communications for the Sigma Omega Nu sorority, Melissa offers a shout-out to some unsung heroes on the Woodbury campus.
“Maintenance is the first service that comes to mind,” she says. “They’re some of the hardest working people on campus, and they love to work with students. I advise everyone to get to know them.”
Entering her senior year, Melissa is ready to look back a bit. “Woodbury has allowed me to learn valuable leadership skills and understand how to balance my time between studies and extra-curriculars,” she says. “The university has connected me with classmates who have helped push me continuously to expand my skill set. With their help, I have grown as a person and an artist, something I wouldn’t have been able to do if Woodbury wasn’t a common denominator in our lives.”