As a young girl in Puerto Rico, Gabriela Otei Castro imagined owning her own business. As a dog lover it occurred to her that, perhaps, those pieces of her identity could be combined.
It is that combination, and what she calls “amazing” business
and animal behavior programs
, that drew Castro to Carroll.
Her dream is to own and operate her own service dog training business in Puerto Rico, where, she says, those opportunities are limited. She currently is a business major minoring in animal behavior and on track to graduate with the Class of 2024, in part because of help from her family, her Carroll mentors and an Opportunity Scholarship
In her business classes, she is learning how to start her own business as well as how “to be one of the best businesses in the world,” said Castro, who added that her goal is for her future service dog training business to grow globally. Castro credits her professors, who she said help each student uncover how they can make a real change in today’s world.
Prior to attending Carroll, Castro participated in the Pioneer Bridge program
, a high school to college orientation program for first generation and underrepresented students. The opportunity gave her a head start on building relationships on campus and gaining access and exposure to the resources available to students, which has proven beneficial.
“From day one my mentor helped me prepare myself for my first year at Carroll,” she explained. “And he was there whenever one of us ever needed help. Also, (multicultural enrollment admission counselor) Miguel Rodríguez ’12 advised me about the amazing opportunities here at Carroll and has helped me with everything around campus.”
Professors have also been instrumental in Castro’s success toward her goals. Whether she needs extra lab time or help with a subject, the faculty involved in her education have been more than helpful. But for Castro, her own ambition and the love and support from her mom and newfound friends at Carroll, are what continue to drive her.
Three other students from Puerto Rico have become among her closest confidantes and support system on campus. Though they’d never met until arriving at Carroll, Castro said their bond was immediate.
“Thanks to my amazing friends, I know that I can always count on them when I am sad or when I am missing home,” she said. “We have made so many good and bad memories, even with COVID, but this has been one of the best college experiences thanks to them. I don't consider them my friends. I already consider them my family here at Carroll.”
Although her mom and family are more than 2,000 miles away in Puerto Rico and she is so far from home for the first time, she feels their pride.
“My family has always wanted what is best for me. When I told them that I had been accepted to Carroll, they were so happy and proud of me to be attending my dream college where I can pursue my goals,” she said. “I really do miss them a lot, but I know that they are super proud of me.”