FAIRFIELD — Astred Castro could probably make millions by bottling and selling her abundance of enthusiasm.
The Armijo High School senior is the recipient of this year’s Violet Richardson Award from Soroptimist International of Central Solano County. It’s given to a young woman, age 14 to 17, who is making a difference through volunteer service.
Castro, a Fairfield native, chuckled as she talked about attending H. Glenn Richardson School, only to have it close. It has since re-opened as an educational complex.
From there, she went to Tolenas School and Dover Middle School. Dover was then closed and Castro finished up at Grange Middle School before beginning her freshman year at Armijo.
Her days begin at 5:30 a.m., so she can make it to school for leadership, which meets before the first school bell rings. Sometimes it doesn’t end until midnight as she wraps up school work after a busy day.
She plays alto saxophone in the marching band and serves as vice president of the school’s National Honor Society. Castro is also active in Armijo’s Helping Hand Club and has volunteered her time on Thanksgiving Day to work the Solano County Turkey Trot, which benefits local charities.
Her schedule is also filled with volunteer hours at Kaiser Permanente Vacaville Medical Center, where she helps out in the Radiology Department. That ties in with her dream of working in the medical field, possibly in research.
She recently helped create, and danced and acted in a skit for basketball homecoming.
“It was a lot of work,” she said. “But with the teamwork I had, it paid off.”
Once a year, Castro lends her talents to the B. Gale Wilson School’s multicultural festival, Vamos.
“For me, it shows the true beauty of the Hispanic culture,” she said of the event. “And I get my hands sticky. It’s fun.”
Castro loves to help make piñatas at the event.
Calling herself an optimist, the energetic teen said her life’s philosophy is, “Don’t let go of a great opportunity being presented to you.”
She holds that thought close as she hopes to secure college scholarships. Castro said she’ll apply to any school willing to give her a scholarship.
“In order to get an education, I need money,” she said.
In five years, Castro hopes to have her bachelor’s degree in science and be working in a field where she can help her fellow humans.
“Hopefully, I will have learned a lot,” she said.
When she has free time, Castro enjoys dancing and reading.
Her mother Maria Castro beams with pride, noting that her daughter has a shot at the American dream. Astred Castro calls her mother her mentor.
“When I got into school, I saw how my parents struggled,” Astred Castro said. “I knew I wanted something better and that I would push myself to do better.”
Castro will receive some scholarship money with the Violet Richardson Award. It also comes with a matching donation made to the charity of her choice.
She chose the Girl Scout program, Got Choices, which meets in juvenile hall. The cause is a worthy one, she said.
“It helps girls who may not have guidance to reach for their dreams,” Castro said.
Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.