Natalia Castillo

Natalia Castillo

Courtesy of Natalia Castillo

Natalia Castillo Casados (CAHS, Communication Arts, ’23) says the one thing she knew she wanted to do with her life was to help people; however, she wasn’t fully confident about how to do that when she first attended The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), a part of The University of Alabama System. “I thought about nursing or psychology when I was a freshman,” Castillo says. “But I quickly realized these [degree programs] weren’t for me. I chose Communication Arts because there’s so much you can do with that.” Communication Arts, a department of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, prepares students for careers in a variety of areas, including marketing, human resources, public relations, politics and the media. Castillo says being a two-year recipient of the Carey Anne Link Achievement Scholarship has helped her realize her dream of working with and helping others: “It’s a blessing to have someone donate their money to help a student like me,” she shares.

Castillo is a Madison, Alabama, native and “likes being close to family and friends,” she says. “I wanted a smaller community environment. UAH gives me space but I’m still close to home.” Castillo says UAH has proven to be the perfect place to grow and learn. “You’re not just a number here. Teachers care about you, and you feel like you just fit right in.”

"We are very proud of Natalia Castillo Casados' outstanding scholarly achievements, and appreciative of the role that the Carey Anne Link Achievement Scholarship has played in her success,” says Dr. Sean Lane, dean of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. “The generosity of the Link family has made it possible for students like Natalia to pursue their passions."

In addition to the high level of instruction, Castillo says she’s been able to take advantage of other opportunities on campus. “I’m in my second year of being a Resident Assistant (RA), I was an Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ODEI) Ambassador last year; my freshman year I was in the Emerging Leaders Program, and I also participate with the Catholic Campus Ministry music team.” These experiences, Castillo adds, have been helpful in both her social and professional growth. “The best thing about being an RA is that I get to know the residents and help them. I can be a mentor and friend. Being an RA has helped me with my communication, organizational and critical thinking skills. This will help in any future job I get.” The same applies to being an ODEI Ambassador. Students in this role serve and promote a diverse and inclusive atmosphere on campus by participating in ODEI programming initiatives. “It was a lot of fun, and I got to work with a variety of students,” Castillo explains. She adds that the Emerging Leaders program, which supports first-year students in their college transition, “helped me to become a better leader.” As for the Catholic Campus Ministry music team, Castillo confesses she’s always loved singing. “I have been a singer my whole life,” she admits.

If that didn’t keep her busy enough, Castillo says she’s had several opportunities for internships that have gained valuable experience in potential career areas. “Last summer, I worked with Summit 7 as a marketing intern,” she says, noting that they pursued her after finding her information on LinkedIn. “This past summer I was a Corporate Communications intern at Adtran, and I still am. I’ve been able to see the inside of the communications world and have a broader perspective.” Castillo says she looks forward to a great career in the future: “I would love to work for a college or university. My work as an RA has made me think that would be a great job, possibly working in counseling or academic affairs. I love college life and working with students.”

Castillo has also not ruled out graduate school. “I’m looking at a few schools known for their strong communication graduate programs. And now that I think I might want to work in student affairs, my Resident Director has suggested a few places for me to explore, as well.”

The work she’s doing at UAH is made even more meaningful because of the Carey Anne Link Achievement Scholarship. “My parents are paying out of pocket for my education, so this scholarship helps tremendously,” Castillo reflects. “It’s amazing to know that I’m here with the help from someone else who cares about students and wants us to succeed. I would love to be able to pass that on in the future because I know how much it’s helped me.”

Carey Anne Link was a graduate of The University of Alabama in Huntsville with a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology. After graduation, she worked for the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity and was a youth volunteer for the Red Cross. At the time of her passing, Link was pursuing a master’s degree in counseling and dreamed of helping others with disabilities and cancer.

“I met Natalia at the scholarship breakfast this May and had a delightful conversation with her,” says Judy Link, Carey Anne Link’s mother. “She is an outstanding student and a brilliant young woman who will go many places. I am so glad that Carey’s endowment to the university could aid Natalia along the way.” Link emphasizes that the gift to create the scholarship came from Carey Anne and represents both her giving spirit and her love of UAH. “UAH is so very special – to us and to Carey. She was a remarkable young woman.”

Castillo says that when someone gives to create a scholarship, you’re doing more than paying for an education. “There are students out there who can’t afford their future, so to have someone who cares about your academic and personal success impacts both you and them. They’re helping a student in ways they can’t imagine.”

The College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences is a hub for interdisciplinary research and exploration. They offer programs that combine a variety of interests from human factors engineering, digital communications and gaming production, to criminology, animation, environmental social science and the ethics of technology. CAHS students achieve a degree with a competitive edge as they refine their oral and written communication, critical analysis and cultural awareness. They gain the expertise to adapt to a complex and changing world, and the ingenuity to solve problems: skills that employers value most.

Established in 1962, UAH Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, supplements the University’s fundraising activities. Tax-deductible gifts to UAH Foundation advance the UAH mission to explore, discover, create, and communicate knowledge.