My name is Katherine Castillo and I am a 25 year old, proud Dominican, Transgender woman. On November 8, 2008 I emigrated from the Dominican Republic to the United States for a better future. I went from Middle School to High School struggling with my identity. I did not have the freedom to be myself or to express my feelings. At the time, I did not know how to go about it because I was very young, so I ended up dropping out of High School and started living as a usual teenager would; I started experimenting with going out, drinking and just living “the best life” as I used to call it, until, my best friend Shantel Alix, introduced me to YouthBuild North Shore CDC. There is where I graduated and where “my better life” really began. When I first joined YouthBuild I was having doubts and trying to figure out if the program was for me. I began making friends and getting closer with the staff members and that is where my actually liking the program began.
The program helped me so much during the journey of my path through YouthBuild. I was provided the opportunity to serve my community through community service which I never thought I would enjoy doing, and I also got to do internships and learning about office/clerical work which helped me to get a clearer vision of my path. After I completed the program course, and gained my HiSet Equivalency Diploma, I applied for the position of “Alumni Engagement Coordinator” at the same program I graduated from. I was trying so hard to get this position and it seemed weird at the time, so I wasn’t sure if I was going to succeed but my desire to give back to this program that helped me so much was bigger than my insecurities and I was hired for the position. Here I can be myself, doing great things for others. I see myself as an example for those who don’t believe in themselves, and what you can achieve, if you just put the work into it.