Sergio Castillo

Can you tell me about your affiliation with Christian Brothers High School and what you’re doing now?

I’m an alumnus who graduated in 2017. Now I’m a senior at UC Davis studying political science – an “extra” rising senior. Whenever I tell a professor I’m going into my fifth year, they’re like, “Oh, you guys get so strung up on graduating in four years.” They say, “It’s only your first degree.”

You said you’re studying political science. What’s your career aspiration?

Currently my heart is torn in two. Half of me really wants to go to law school. I’ve always been interested in politics, especially constitutional law. But I’m also a beach volleyball coach. I love, love, love coaching volleyball. So, the other half of me is asking, “Do I pursue that – coach collegiate beach volleyball and run a program of my own one day?” Realistically, I can’t do both.”

I guess I really haven’t decided yet. On paper it would be going to law school and becoming some type of litigator and helping people. Teaching someday might bring that together with my love of coaching. I’m having to make a tough choice between two things I know would make me happy, so I can’t complain.

How did your relationship with CB begin?

I didn’t even know CB existed as a school until eighth grade. I was a public school kid and my sister went to a public high school, so I just accepted that that’s where I would go.

If somebody had asked me in seventh grade to name the private high schools in Sacramento, I would have had no idea.

So how did the connection get made?

I had a friend of a friend who went to Christian Brothers, and we ended up going to the same church, St. Anthony’s, and were in the same youth group. I learned about it through her. Then I came home and asked my mom, “Have you ever heard of Christian Brothers? I’m thinking about going and shadowing there.” Her initial response was, “Since when do you want to go to private school?” And as a single mother, her next question was, “How do you think we’re going to make this work?”

But my mom has always said, “If you really want to do something, we’ll make it work.” At that point I didn’t know that I really wanted to do it, but I knew I wanted to look into it. So, I did a shadow day. I sat through the presentations and heard about how they give so much in tuition assistance. My mom listened as well and then we decided to go for it.

And then?

I also had a middle school teacher who was close with CB’s Admissions staff, and talked to them about me. Then I got to meet some people from Admissions and once I took the first tour and went to Frosh Welcome Night, I was sold. It was instant. This place is amazing.

What about the experience captured your imagination then?

Growing up as the younger sibling, I’d been to plenty of events at all the public schools in Sacramento because that’s where my sister and cousins went. To me, it felt like a million people at places where nobody notices you.

Then you come to CB as a visiting eighth-grader or a first-day freshman, and you have all these students greeting you, like “What’s your name? Do you have any questions? What are you interested in? Oh, can I show you this?”

After going to Christian Brothers for four years and working with Admissions, I know now that’s their job. But the fact that somebody makes it their job is what makes it what it is. Nobody is telling kids at public school, “You need to go up to the eighth graders and ask them how their day is going.”

Did that impression continue after you became a CB student?

That commitment to community struck me my very first day. Everywhere I went I’d feel welcomed, like, “Oh, you don’t know the campus? Let me show you around.” And, “What are you interested in? Do you play any sports? Let me show you what we have.” That’s how I ended up picking up volleyball, which I now love to coach. The best thing about CB is the community – not just the students, but the faculty, staff, alumni – everyone.

Was CB’s faith tradition part of that, too?

Yes, there’s definitely a higher goal in play. I grew up Catholic but was never really practicing. I’d go to mass with family members once in a while. But I think part of that is growing up in the Mexican Catholic church in America. It’s very old-school. The young church is not as active in the Mexican-American culture.

I had never explored my faith in a community of my peers. That was exciting for me – to not only pursue my education, but also to grow in my faith with people my age – to learn about what’s going on in humanity, what’s going on in the world, and consider these kinds of moral issues together.

Are there any key events or memories that stand out and characterize the experience you’ve had at CB?

This is hard. There were so many. We did a Lasallian Youth Leadership camp over the summer. We met with delegations from other schools and got to represent what Christian Brothers was to our larger Lasallian community. We’re all under this big umbrella, but Lasallian education is different in Sacramento than in Colorado, or Louisiana, or New York. Coming together and sharing ideas of what we thought it was to be Lasallian students, Lasallian educators, and how we’re putting that out to the world was really interesting.

From that experience, we came back and applied what we learned from other schools to start a school-wide service day. We decided to make sandwiches to pass out to homeless people in Oak Park. It was a lot of work to organize and convince the student body to give up a lunch break. But then, to see the entire CB student community all working together, was huge. After it was all done, I thought, “wow, at what other school would you get that?”

Honestly, my best experiences at CB were with the teachers. To this day, at college, I’ll go take a call and I’ll come back to my friends asking, “Who was it?” and being surprised when I tell them it was my high school English teacher because we’re friends now. All of my CB teachers are my friends now. That tells you something, right? They’re here because they love you and want you to succeed in high school and throughout your life.

What’s your vision or expectation for CB’s future and your role in it?

I would like to see Christian Brothers continue to expand in diversity and who the school is reaching out to – beyond the kids who went to a local K-8 Catholic school.

The kids who CB should really reach are the kids like me who had no idea what the school has to offer and, what CB has to offer is a great deal. Let’s reach out to those kids. Let’s reach out to the kids who have no idea who we are and to the people who can contribute to the resources that make it possible for those kids to be there.

My goal over my span as an alumnus would be to either give back myself or help raise at least as much money as I took in as a student – which was almost full tuition. But beyond money, I’m committed to being involved in general, through volunteering, coming back and telling our story, and staying in touch.