Gabe Castro
Gabe Castro ’12

Making Connections

How one student from the big city found more opportunities by going off the beaten path.

Born in New York City and raised in New Jersey, this student from the big city was skeptical about attending a college in rural Pennsylvania. On the drive to Juniata, Gabe looked out on farmlands and rolling hills, and said to his parents, “Where the hell are we going?” Yet from his first visit, he knew this “oasis of absolute beauty” was the right fit. “I had toured schools in Boston and Philadelphia,” he says. “But I felt I belonged at Juniata the minute I stepped on campus. A professor sat down with me and asked what I was interested in. No other school had bothered to ask me that. To me, that personal connection was a differentiator from day one.”

At Juniata, they encourage you to explore.

When exploring college options, Gabe thought he would study psychology and business, but ultimately, he chose a Program of Emphasis in finance with a concentration in economics. “At 18 years old, it’s difficult to know exactly what you want to do with your life, and at Juniata, they encourage you to explore.

All In, All the Way

Gabe dove into his studies. He took on heavy, 18-credit course loads in subjects ranging from calculus to comics. He studied abroad in Sevilla, Spain, and put his first language of Spanish to good use. He was also Portfolio Manager of the college’s Eagle Fund. This, and the research opportunities he had with his adviser, Professor Bradley Andrew (or “BA” as Gabe has taken to calling him) focusing on investment strategies, ultimately prepared Gabe for the management position he holds at the global investment firm, The Vanguard Group.

A Fluid Academic Action Plan

Gabe says that Juniata’s philosophy of partnering with students to create their own academic experience sets it apart. “I have friends who went to Ivy League schools, but I had as much opportunity at Juniata, if not more than they did. I was able to focus on my studies at a level I could never have achieved at another college.” He found that at Juniata, one experience leads to another--literally. “I was writing a white paper for an independent study, which led to a research conference in Utah, which then led to a presentation to U.S. Senators on Capitol Hill!”

Gratitude to the Strong, Supportive Community

Although Gabe makes it all sound easy, there were times when his breakneck schedule and heavy course load stretched him mentally and emotionally. He leaned on family, friends, and his professors for support. “I looked at myself in the mirror and said, ‘This is why you’re here, Gabe. Enjoy the struggle because that’s part of the beauty.’”

The struggle was clearly worth it.

Gabe remembers walking across the stage at commencement to receive his diploma. “I looked out at the audience, at my family, friends, and professors, and it hit me.” All the challenges, adventures, friendships, and life lessons of the last four years came to him in a rush. His eyes welled up in tears as he was struck by a sense of pride, achievement, hope, and most of all, gratitude, to all the people who had brought him to this moment.

Think About Who You Are

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