Daniela Troya Castro, a Goshen College sophomore molecular biology/biochemistry major from Goshen, is one of several first-generation Indiana college students named “Realizing the Dream” recipients by Independent Colleges of Indiana (ICI).
Made possible by a grant from Lilly Endowment Inc., the scholarship program annually recognizes 30 first-generation college students from ICI’s private, non-profit colleges and universities. Students are selected for the $3,000 award for outstanding achievement during their freshman year as they successfully advance toward completing their bachelor’s degrees.
Castro came to the United States from Ecuador when she was 15 years old, living with her grandparents while attending Goshen High School.
“This journey was definitely a hard one, but it taught me a lot about myself,” Castro said. “And now that I’m part of Goshen College, and I’m part of a career that I know one day I’ll be helping others and those in need, is really satisfying. It really shows me that everything was worth it. This degree is not only for me, but it’s also for my family and for the people that I will help in the future.”
Between classes and homework, Castro works as an interpreter at Goshen Health, and hopes to attend medical school after graduating from Goshen to become an oncologist.
“This is the best job for me because I love giving back to my latino community,” she said.
Castro named Theresa Collins, international baccalaureate coordinator at Goshen High School, as her influential educator. Collins will receive a $1,000 professional development grant from ICI.
“It was really a difficult time at the beginning of my junior year, and she (Collins) was a great help, she helped me get through it,” Castro said. “She was really patient and kind to me, and I could not have done it without her.”
The program historically honored recipients, their families and influential educators at an annual event. However, due to the current pandemic, organizers created individual videos of each student describing what it means to them to be a first-generation college student and thanking the influential educator they have chosen to honor.
“Thanks to the continued support of Lilly Endowment, we get the opportunity to hear the inspiring stories of these first-generation students and the impact local educators have had on their drive to succeed academically,” ICI President & CEO David W. Wantz said. “Especially during these challenging times, these scholarship awards will provide critical support for these young people who are dreaming of future success.”
About Independent Colleges of Indiana
Independent Colleges of Indiana serves as the collective voice for the state’s 30 private, non-profit colleges and universities. ICI institutions employ over 22,000 Hoosiers and generate a total local economic impact of over $5 billion annually. Students at ICI colleges have Indiana’s highest four-year, on-time graduation rates, and ICI institutions produce 30 percent of Indiana’s bachelor’s degrees while enrolling 20 percent of its undergraduates.
About Lilly Endowment Inc.
Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by J.K. Lilly, Sr. and his sons, Eli and J.K. Jr., through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company. Although the gifts of stock remain a financial bedrock of the Endowment, it is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location. In keeping with the founders’ wishes, the Endowment supports the causes of community development, education and religion. The Endowment funds significant programs throughout the United States, especially in the field of religion. However, it maintains a special commitment to its founders’ hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana.