My South Texas College Experience: An interview with Juan Castillo

Name: Juan Castillo
Career: Co-General Manager at Buc-ee’s, Ltd.
Degree: Bachelor of Applied Technology in Technology Management (Class of 2010)

About Juan:

Juan Castillo recalls his graduation from the Bachelor of Applied Technology Program at South Texas College. “After earning our degrees, Dr. Ali Esmaeili [Dean for Bachelor Programs] told us to spread our wings and fly,” Castillo said. “And that’s exactly what I set out to do.”

Castillo serves as the Co-General Manager for Buc-ee’s, Ltd., a chain of Texas-based travel centers considered by many to be the largest and cleanest in the world. Castillo recently graduated cum laude from the University of Houston with a strategic Master of Business Administration (MBA). Prior to this, he worked as a District Sales Manager for Coca-Cola and served in the United States Marine Corps for seven years.

With the knowledge and experience Castillo has gained throughout his academic and professional career, he hopes to one day pay it forward and become a college professor.

Q&A with Juan:

What was your experience like at STC?
“I gained a real-world experience through STC’s Bachelor of Applied Technology Program. You can tell that many of the professors teaching these courses are career professors with experience in the field. They were able to show us exactly how to apply our knowledge to the work environment.”

What made you decide to attend South Texas College?
“The plant manager at Coca-Cola, named Hector Amaya, now a VP in Houston, told me I had great leadership skills that show from my Marine Corps experience, but was lacking that educational background to get me to the next steps in my life and career. In 2006, I enrolled as a part-time student at STC and graduated four years later.”

How do you stay motivated?
“I want to be someone who was impactful. When you really think about it, we are all building a legacy. The point is to leave something behind you can be proud of. When we think about the people who have impacted us, the ones we remember most are those who left a legacy.”

What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
“The biggest reward is the sense of fulfillment. I am constantly learning something new and evolving within my career. I also love getting to meet new people at our stores. Our motto is ‘clean, friendly and in-stock.’ It’s a unique company and we have great customer service. People love it.”

Do you have any advice for current or prospective college students?
“Success is not easy. It takes hard work. I always like to say, ‘the tallest tree in the forest is just a nut that held its ground.’ Meaning, if you stay rooted and true to yourself, you will find success. Lastly, as a U.S. Veteran, I would encourage other veterans interested in pursuing a college education to take that next step. STC has a Veterans Affairs Office that streamlines the admissions process for us. All it takes is that next step.”

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