Writer’s Voice Rising

Alejandra Castillo ’15 will be the first in her family to graduate from college, and she is making her family proud every step of the way. “My three siblings dropped out of high school in the 9th grade. The fact that I’m at a prestigious liberal arts college is truly a dream come true, not just for me but for my whole family.”

Castillo is a Posse scholar, attending Kalamazoo College on a full scholarship awarded to teens from urban areas who exhibit high academic achievement and leadership skills.

Four years ago, while still a high school student, Castillo began work at a Los Angeles-based nonprofit organization called WriteGirl. This summer, she returned to the organization, but this time on an “independent internship” through K’s Center for Career and Professional Development’s Field Experience Program. WriteGirl challenges interns to think critically about the world, to write about it, and then to voice their work out loud. Leadership, communication skills and self-confidence are qualities nurtured in the program.

“I came back to WriteGirl because I want to be as ready as I can be to enter the workforce when I graduate college,” says Castillo.

At Kalamazoo College, Castillo is majoring in anthropology and sociology AND distinguishing herself as a playwright. Her one-act play, How Miss Long Beach Became Miss Long Beach, will be performed at the Kalamazoo College Festival Playhouse as part of the Senior Performance Series under direction of senior Amy Jimenez. The Senior Performance Series will occur May 1-4, 2014.

“Alejandra has been my student in playwriting class, and she developed this play in an independent study,” says her theatre arts professor, Ed Menta. “It’s a heartfelt and funny story of a young Latina who has mixed feelings about her mother forcing her to participate in a beauty pageant. The play touches on issues of mother/daughter, body image, assimilation, and sexuality.”

Another Castillo play, Say Yes, a conversation between two young people in the parking lot of a convenience store in Los Angeles, was selected for the Kalamazoo New Play Festival.