Being raised in a family that values education highly, it’s no wonder that Dr. Evelyn Castro became an educator. After all, her mother attended Hampton University, where George Washington Carver was one of her teachers. Castro herself also attended a historically black university, Morgan State, receiving a master of science in early childhood elementary education, as well as a master of public administration from Bank Street College of Education, and a doctorate in education administration from Columbia University Teachers College.
“It was always my hope and dream to make schools good places for kids,” Castro says. “Whatever you go into, a teacher has to have had an influence on you.”
She now serves as vice president for student affairs, enrollment management services and educational initiatives at Medgar Evers College, a unit of the City University of New York.
Castro is at the top of her field, and reached numerous benchmarks on her way up.
She served as an associate dean for educational initiatives at Medgar Evers, working to increase enrollment and create partnerships with other colleges. She was also a quality reviewer for the city’s Department of Education; director of NYC Parent Academy; director of the Regional Bilingual Technical Assistance Center at Long Island University, and a member of LIU’s Adjunct Teaching Leadership Program.
“Dr. Castro is a community advocate for women’s rights, minorities, and the marginalized. She’s altruistic, compassionate, and committed to the success of both Medgar and high-school students,” said her colleague, Dr. Augustine Okereke.
“I’ll be in the ER, and a doctor will walk up and ask, ‘Dr. Castro, do you remember me?’ In traffic, police officers will stop me to say, ‘I was your student. Do you remember me?’ In the court buildings, lawyers will approach me and say, ‘Dr. Castro, do you remember teaching me?’ It’s so heartening to see these former students succeed in all different walks of life,” Castro said.
Many of Castro’s former students have gone on to achieve fame and success, but whether famous or not, her students have gone on to realize their hopes and dreams — sometimes with her intervention.
“One little boy I had when I was principal of Hunter College Campus School said to me, ‘I don’t think I’m as smart as the other kids.’ I said, ‘You are just as smart.’ And I asked him what he liked,” recalled Castro. “He said he liked history and music, especially being part of school performances. So I said, ‘Then do that.’ That kid’s name was Lin-Manuel Miranda, and he wrote ‘Hamilton.’ ”
Castro fights so all kids can get not only equity, but access to rigorous curricula. When students are exposed to a wide variety of career options, she says, they will learn to dream bigger, and achieve those dreams.
“We live 75 or 80 years, and we want to live it as productive citizens, to go out there and contribute something to the world,” said Castro. “You can’t do that without exposure and access to education. How do we know one of these kids sitting in front of us today won’t go on to find a cure to cancer or HIV?”
NEIGHBORHOOD: Ditmas Park.
Educator and university dean.
COMPANY: Medgar Evers Collge, City University of New York.
CLAIM TO FAME: I’ve been a principal, a superintendent, and a university educator.
FAVORITE BROOKLYN PLACE: I love being at CUNY. I also enjoy the Promenade and the Brooklyn Museum.
WOMAN I ADMIRE: I love Una Clarke, New York City’s first councilwoman of black Caribbean heritage. She is now on the Board of Trustees for CUNY.
MOTTO: “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world” — Nelson Mandela.
©2018 Community News Group
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