"Leaving Salve after graduation was such an emotional time for me," says Christiana Castillo '18. "I left my home away from home for the last two years and returned to Belize, where I embarked on my dream of being an auctioneer like my father. After auctioneering for a year and a half, a new opportunity emerged. I became hotel manager of Falling Leaves Lodge, a family investment and one of Belize's newest lodges."
Castillo started at Salve Regina during her junior year, after completing her first two years of college in Belize. She lived in Nethercliffe Carriage House and Graystone Cottages. During her junior year in Nethercliffe Carriage House, she lived with just two other roommates, even though the house could accommodate six. Her favorite professors were Lorrie Burns and Dr. Jennifer Bonoff. "Without these amazing women, I would not have learned so much about business management and marketing," Castillo says. "They taught me skills that I use on a daily basis." Castillo explored a variety of clubs and organizations, including American Marketing Association, Multicultural Student Organization and Sigma Beta Delta.
Many students who come to Salve Regina from outside of New England get excited about seeing their first snowfall. "Of course, it being my first time seeing snow, I ran outside in slippers and no jacket," Castillo says. "It is safe to say I ran back inside very quickly." She can still remember walking to Miley Hall with her roommates during that huge snowstorm. Although it's just across campus, it took them 30 minutes to get to the dining hall. Castillo made amazing friends during her time at Salve Regina, all of whom contributed to countless memories she'll never forget. Like many Salve Regina graduates, she will cherish those friendships forever.
The lounge in Miley Hall, the Cliff Walk and Jazzman's Cafe in O'Hare Academic Building were some of Castillo's favorite places to spend time on campus. She enjoyed Ocean Drive sunsets and taking the trolley to buy cotton candy and Awful Awfuls. Until the colder months, Castillo would walk downtown, but claims she wasn't seen outside during the winter unless it was walking to class! "Going out with friends to O'Brien's, Pelham or Diego's was a fun time too," she adds. "Finding coconut shrimp, one of my favorite foods, at Brick Alley was surely a highlight."
After discovering that Salve Regina was a sister school to her high school, Saint Catherine Academy in Belize, Castillo knew that coming to the University was the right path for her. Visiting Newport, which was surrounded by the ocean and so many beautiful mansions, sealed the deal for Castillo in her choice to attend Salve Regina. She participated in many community volunteer programs, including Rebuilding Together Greater Newport. Seeing how happy and grateful people in the community were for their help proved very rewarding.
When asked what she'd tell prospective students considering Salve Regina, Castillo says: "If you're looking for a prestigious school with a small student population, then Salve is the right choice for you. Salve's relatively small classes allowed me to get more one-on-one help from professors. Recreationally, I had some of my best days at Salve, and the friends I made there were truly unforgettable. You can really have a fulfilling college experience at Salve, more than just academically. You will not regret the decision to choose Salve."
During her two years at Salve Regina, Castillo demonstrated many aspects of the mission. Instilling certain values of the Sisters of Mercy in her own life, she followed the core values of compassion, joy, integrity and respect, encouraging her to become the person she is back home. Independent and creative are two words Castillo uses to describe her educational journey.
"This mission helped me to recognize that God created a world so grand that we should show mercy, kindness and encouragement to others always," she says. "This is also a tradition that the Sisters of Mercy have upheld for years and I want to continue that tradition for years after. In my professional life, I use the values engrained in me from Salve to interact with and manage my staff. Our business also regularly gives donations to schools and other institutions to assist with community building. Salve showed me that it is important to give back to my community, and I am grateful for all I learned while I was at Salve."