STC Kinesiology student says challenges are just ‘excuses to excel’
Even though she was born with a disability, STC Kinesiology student Anahi Castillo said she has never let that fact get in the way of her goals. Giving up has never been an option.
Exuding a quiet strength that hints at true confidence underneath her calm demeanor, South Texas College Kinesiology student Anahi Castillo believes there are no limits to what she is capable of achieving.
Disabled from birth, Castillo said she has never let that fact get in the way of her goals. Giving up has never been an option, she said.
Now on the verge of graduating with an associate degree in Kinesiology from STC, she reflects on the mindset that has enabled her to become among the top students in the program. It’s the same mindset that is leading her to a career in coaching, where she seeks to motivate young children to succeed no matter the obstacles in their path.
“I have always had to work a lot harder in anything I have done. I had to learn things my own way and accomplish them in my own way because I knew I couldn’t do things the same as other people,” Castillo said. “It made me smarter and stronger and showed me how to work at my own pace. It has got me where I needed to be so far; now I just need to keep going.”
I have never told myself ‘I have one hand; I can’t do it’. It’s all about having the right mentality to push yourself further than you thought. I believe people are stronger than they think, and anything is possible if they put their whole heart into what they are doing.
Born and raised in Monte Alto, Castillo said she was given an ‘iron will’ to succeed by her parents, who told her she could do anything just as well as anybody else – and even better.
With that encouragement came a desire to compete, she said.
She became enamored with sports in middle school, but likely because of her disability remembers immediately being benched in every sport she participated in. When she finally got her chance however, she used the opportunity to excel in all sports she tried including volleyball, basketball, soccer, softball or track.
“I have been underestimated from the beginning, but people are quick to understand that I have the drive to succeed in everything I do,” Castillo said. “I remember excelling in all sports that I competed in. When I finally got my chance, I quickly shut down all talk about my abilities whether it was in volleyball, basketball, soccer, softball or track. I did better than most at the time because of the drive I had to do better, and I remember I had so much fun playing sports. I loved showing people that I really could do it. And it all stemmed from a part of me just saying ‘go for it.’”
Castillo said her success and approach to college and life comes down to three key aspects: believing in yourself, setting extremely high goals, and the will to fight and never stop until you reach those goals.
“I carried this competitive mindset all through high school and now in college as I look to graduate soon, I believe it will take me far in my future career as a coach,” Castillo said. “It all comes from the heart, the need to constantly push yourself and believe you can do it, no matter what. For those with similar challenges, I think that’s something they need to understand. You can get through anything as long as you just keep going.”
STC faculty agree that they hold a lot of admiration for Castillo and her work ethic because she doesn't limit what she is capable of achieving. She is always striving to excel, and it is “awe-inspiring” to see Castillo work, according to Kinesiology Department Chair Brent Angangan
“To see her swim, lift weights, and play basketball all essentially using a single arm…she does not ask for modifications. She is as fast, as strong, and as able as her peers,” Angangan said. “She is one of the better Kinesiology students we have, full stop.”
Castillo said she will never forget her roots and the challenges she has overcome so far. Now close to meeting her initial goal to complete a college degree, she says she will always be that little girl playing football in the backyard with her brothers and father.
“I carried this competitive mindset all through high school and now in college as I look to graduate soon. I believe it will take me far in my future career as a coach,” she said. “I have never told myself ‘I have one hand; I can’t do it’. It’s all about having the right mentality to push yourself further than you thought. I believe people are stronger than they think, and anything is possible if they put their whole heart into what they are doing.”