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Andrew Castillo, class of 2012, inspires though his work at Habitat for Humanity
As an intern at Habitat for Humanity in Spring 2012, Andrew Castillo focused on creating a sustainable program for Corporate Relations Development. He helped develop a video featuring families who had been living in their Habitat home for at least one year which emphasizes how Habitat is able to change a family's life.
After graduating from MSU Denver, Mr. Castillo was hired by Habitat in a one-year AmeriCorps position focusing on Interfaith Program Development. This position stemmed from Habitat for Humanity International’s Interfaith Pilot Project that is funded by the Argosy Foundation from May 1, 2012 - July 31, 2013. Denver was selected as one of only six cities in the U.S. for participation in this project. The AmeriCorps VISTA mission is to build capacity in nonprofit organizations and communities in order to bring individuals and communities out of poverty. Mr. Castillo's job is to help plan and implement the Interfaith Pilot Project in the areas of education, construction, global engagement, and outreach. Andrew Castillo is proudly putting his education to work in a national effort to alleviate the impact of poverty.
Danica Brown, Human Services Alumna and Adjunct Faculty, pursues Ph.D.
Though leaving Metro State is hard—“I love MSU Denver's diversity of age, gender, experience, and race”—Brown is excited to
begin work on a Ph.D. in Social Work at Portland State University under the direction of Dr. Laura Nissen. Winning a Research Fellowship at PSU means all her expenses are met for the next three years. “I’ve worked since I was 13,” Brown said, “and this is the first time in my life I haven’t needed a job!”
It’s full circle for Brown, who earned her Bachelor’s in Human Services from MSU Denver in 1998 when Nissen was head of the High Risk Youth concentration. Then 23, Brown knew she wanted to work with kids, but admits she naively thought she could “save the world one gang-banger at a time.” What she found was that, too often, what practitioners knew to be effective was not put into practice within the system.
Disillusioned, Brown considered “giving up human services and opening a flower shop.” Nissen and Kim Rasmussen, another adjunct faculty member, persuaded her instead to go back to school and gain the power to change the system. She moved on to Colorado State University, earning a Master’s in Social Work.
Serendipity struck this past summer in the form of an internship, funded by the National Institute of Drug Addiction (NIDA), to look into drug abuse issues in the Native American community. Brown left a 3-hour meeting with NIDA representatives with an enviably open opportunity to use the program as a testing ground for her dissertation topic: defining culturally competent care in high risk youth treatment. “Everything flowed,” Brown said. “I’ve always had a plan, kept control—now I want to be open to opportunities.”