SENIOR SPOTLIGHT: Castro's determination for education inspires all

MINOT, N.D. – Elizabeth Castro was once a student without a car or a home and facing a lot of troubles.

After dropping in and out of Minot State three times since 2005, she is now a senior psychology and criminal justice double major and an honors and management double minor, with hopes of getting into law school in Montana. 

She came to the University in 2005 because she trusted her sister’s recommendation. Castro’s sister, Jennifer Castro ’11, graduated from MSU as a Hall of Fame student. 

“I didn't have any money to visit any schools, so I just trusted my sister’s judgment, basically,” she said. “And Minot State also had both the programs that I wanted to go into: psychology and criminal justice.” 

Most of her life, she grew up in California, but her parents had moved the family to Montana when Castro started high school. There, she played the French horn and the trumpet as part of the jazz, concert, pep bands. She also played basketball for all four years of high school, volleyball for three, and came to MSU on an athletic scholarship as a track & field athlete.

She always aspired to become a criminal defense attorney lawyer, a dream she had held on to since she was nine years old. However, while at MSU in the fall of 2007, Castro had to adjust her plans.

“In 2007, I got mono. I had to retake a lot of classes because I couldn't stay awake to even read one page of the textbook. You have no appetite, no energy. I pretty much slept for a whole month,” Castro said. 

She came back a couple of years following the 2011 Minot flood, but had to drop out, again, after a period of being without a car or a reliable housing situation. Her struggles kept on sprouting until 2020, when she came back to MSU for a third time.

Between having to find a stable living situation after 2013 and coming back to MSU in 2020, her doctors diagnosed her with two herniated discs. During the laser surgery on her spine, a mistake led to the development of severe spinal headaches, due to a severed cord holding spinal fluid. This mistake led to another invasive spine surgery and over a year of recovery.

“At the time, I could not come back because I could not sit in a chair for a whole class period without being in extreme pain,” she said. “I came back when I was able to sit in a student chair, those hard chairs, after my back got stronger.”

Despite decade-long setbacks, Castro is dedicated to becoming a lawyer.

“I have always wanted to fight for equality and any injustices,” she said. “I want to fight for those who don’t have the voice to speak for themselves, especially the poor communities who cannot afford a lawyer. That is why I really want to be a criminal defense attorney.

“So no matter which job I get and no matter what it pays, it’s never going to be enough unless I follow my passion. Otherwise, part of me would be missing. But I am also stubborn, and I refuse to give up, which helped a lot.”

Her Psychology Major Field Exam was on April 5, and Castro reflected on her time at MSU after these final steps.

“I would say I’ve met some amazing and supportive people here in Minot,” she said. “I see my close friends as my family, because they’re the ones who got me through everything. And my sister, Jennifer, still lives here, and we’re really close, so she’s helped through a lot as well. my family has been incredibly supportive in my education and throughout all my setbacks. I am very grateful to have them.”   

About Minot State University
Minot State University is a public university dedicated to excellence in education, scholarship, and community engagement achieved through rigorous academic experiences, active learning environments, commitment to public service, and a vibrant campus life.

Published: 05/05/22   

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