Business graduate Daniel Castro has used his experiences through life to advocate for others throughout the Lubbock area.
Whether it's been his education, family, career or life in general, the 1999 graduate of Texas Tech University has made the most of his opportunities, and it's turned into a pretty great life for the financial adviser with Edward Jones investments.
"My parents always reminded me that if you want to do something, you can do it," Castro said.
"I've always been one of those people that if a coach said we're going to run 10 laps, I would run 14 or 15. If a coach said we're going do this in six minutes, I would try to do it in five. I'm just that way. If I mow my lawn you're going to see the lines. When I do something I don't do it half-hearted. I do it with everything I've got until I get tired."
Luckily for the Texas Tech and Lubbock communities, Castro still has plenty of energy left and exemplifies the leadership recognized during Hispanic Heritage Month.
His passion and desire to serve come from a sense of responsibility for giving back to the communities which helped shape him from an early age while at the same time wanting to leave things in better shape for those coming after him.
That's why he's been heavily involved in coaching youth football and baseball, served on the Lubbock Cooper Independent School District Board for the past eight years, was involved with Raiders Rojos from 2003 to 2004, worked for the Catholic Diocese finance committee and was president of the Lubbock Lions Club in 2013.
"This community has been very good to my family, my extended family and to me," Castro said. "This community has taken care of me and allowed me to work to put myself through school, and so I knew I had to give back. It's like a garden. If you take something out, you have to put some nutrients back in."
First opportunity to succeed
Castro spent about the first decade of his life on the north and east sides of Lubbock, and at times, it was a matter of survival.
Fights were normal in that neighborhood, and very few times did you get to be a spectator unless you could outrun everyone to get home before it all started.
Castro said getting away from that influence, however, was crucial to developing both academically and as a person.
"Things like that just weren't conducive to becoming an architect or financial adviser or an attorney," Castro said.
Life changed after his sixth-grade year. His great-grandfather died, and Castro convinced his mother to let him move out with his grandmother on the farm, which was in the Lubbock Cooper school district.
Free from the daily threats and danger, encouraged by teachers and family to succeed, Castro flourished.
"That was a game-changer for me," Castro said. "It was just a culture shock, and I think it definitely helped in molding what my mom was trying to instill in me. Education first, all that other stuff later. At Cooper, it was encouraged to try harder.
"Don't get me wrong. The schools in Lubbock are good schools, it was just a different environment I think I needed."
In that environment, Castro graduated in 1993 and finished in the top 10 of his class. He had the opportunity to go to college on a partial baseball scholarship, but turned it down to follow his then-girlfriend to Texas Tech.
At Texas Tech, however, he was anything but a traditional student.
Paying his own way
Castro used a Pell grant to begin his college career at Texas Tech, but from then on it was up to him to pay for school.
Because of that, he rarely took a full course load during a semester - "nine hours here, three (Summer I) and three (Summer II) to complete a full year," Castro said.
Castro began as a pre-med major, and his sophomore year earned an internship with a physical therapy company, driving and interpreting for a Chilean-born physical therapist as they made house calls around the South Plains.
But he soon realized medicine might not be for him after the times when the physical therapy ended and the patients were heartbroken to lose part of what little human contact they had. The next summer, Castro went into the Rawls College of Business and changed his major.
Not wanting to live at home and needing to make as much money as possible, Castro took a job working seven days a week, five hours a day at a local bingo parlor and also had a part-time job working at the mall. That meant Castro missed many of the experiences most college kids take for granted.
"I don't think I really got to enjoy college, and that's sad to say," Castro said. "Unless it was a late game, by the time you change and get to the game everyone is already having fun and you're behind."
What he didn't miss out on, however, were opportunities.
One day, a friend encouraged him to hit some golf balls with him. Castro said he instantly fell in love with the game, and for three years until he graduated from Texas Tech in 1999 with a bachelor's degree in general business, he would hit balls every day when he wasn't working or studying.
Little did he know what golf would give to him. He eventually became proficient enough to qualify for the Professional Golf Association as an instructor and eventually landed a job at Meadowbrook Golf Course teaching golf and helping run the pro shop on weekends.
It also was about this time a friend handed him a copy of the book "The Millionaire Next Door" by Thomas J. Stanley. The book identifies the common traits used by the wealthiest Americans, most notably that they accumulate wealth and live within their means instead of spending on lavish, materialistic desires.
"I started to understand the concept that it's not what you have in your possession, but what you can afford to have in your possession," Castro said.
At the same time, Castro met an adviser with Edward Jones investments on the golf course who got Castro interested in investing and, eventually, recruited him to join the company.
"I had the misconception that you had to come to the table with a lot of money. I didn't think a working man could have a financial adviser," Castro said. "I looked at Edward Jones and investing and fell in love with it, started reading all the magazines and started from there."
It was a continuation of what Castro already knew, from golf to bingo to investing, and has made him a successful financial adviser.
Because of his success and his philanthropic endeavors in the community, Castro has been asked to help promote diversity and opportunity within the Hispanic community, and he's been more than happy to do so.
He also realizes there's more to do, and part of the concern is having a growing Hispanic population represented more positively and equally in the national view other than the current hot-button topic of illegal immigration.
"I don't know that the Hispanic population is where it needs to be," Castro said. "I would like to see us do more to get it there. The next generation, Hispanic, black, white, needs to be more consistent in being more philanthropic. Collectively, we're getting there and we're more willing to give back.
"You turn on the TV and see the Yankees play the Rangers and see three or four dozen commercials, and it's not equally represented there. I pay a hefty cell phone bill like everyone else but it doesn't seem so, and it hits me time and again, you don't see equal representation of marketing of companies. You don't see Coke cans with Juanito or Gustavo. I don't know if it's because we haven't been given that opportunity or we just haven't stuck our neck out there to gain that opportunity. I always think about that."
At the same time, Castro said he doesn't want to be pigeonholed into being an advocate for only Hispanics just because he is Hispanic, but also realizes he needs to be a voice for the Hispanic community. He and his wife Ophelia, who he credits as being the CEO of the Castro household, want to make sure his four boys - Gabriel, Daniel, Ivan and Samuel - are as well-rounded and exposed to as many experiences as possible.
And there might be more for Castro on the horizon as well in terms of giving back. Castro admits there might be some political aspirations he has considered, but only if he can run as an honest candidate. He also would relish the chance to serve his alma mater as a Texas Tech University Regent should that opportunity arise one day.
Rest assured, however, that whatever area Castro chooses to serve, he will do it with the enthusiasm and passion that has gotten him to this point in his life and career.
"My mom always told me that if you put your heart into it and put God first, you can do anything you want," Castro said. "If this community gives you something, you better give it back because if you just continue to take, there won't be anything left for anyone else."