September 2021
Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

My Family, My Motivation

Recently I was asked what has kept me going throughout the years, what has been my true which I responded: “to be honest, it has always been my family and I don’t think that will ever change.”

I graduated this past spring from my undergraduate studies with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting, and I will be moving once again to pursue a Master of Science in Applied Analytics degree this fall – and you have no idea what a ride it has been. What I always share with those interested in my career is that there are certain things that have made me the person that I am today, and they are, “blessings, hard work and dedication.The many blessings in my life I have received from God, but hard work and dedication I have learned from my family, especially my parents.

Growing and learning to overcome struggles

I grew up in Honduras in a loving family that, like any other, was not perfect. Together, we experienced many ups and downs and true times of struggle. From having to look for places to live, to seeking financial help and to even wondering what we were going to eat the next day for lack of resources, we have stumbled upon challenges. I believe that some of our greatest struggles as a family emerged not from physical or monetary restraints, but from the needs of the heart and mind.

We had to learn to keep a positive attitude despite struggle and to constantly work to maintain a warm heart and to treat others well. I have many memories from my childhood that I’m sure my parents don’t know I remember. They include constant arguments and not knowing how to move forward. There were occasions when I just wanted to scream and leave, but I didn’t really have anywhere else to go, and I am sure my parents felt the same way. Together, as a family, we were able to grow and learn how to overcome struggles. We also learned what it means to leave your worries to God and trust that he will take care of everything. We began to serve in our church and kept pushing.

Motivated by family and a hopeful vision for the future

I say that my family is my main motivation because I stayed close to my mom and observed many things. While my dad had to move to another country to be able to provide for our family, she stayed behind to deal with everything else in our household. My parents didn’t have the opportunity to attend college, they couldn’t pursue their dreams. While my older sister was able to attend college back home, I saw her frustration in not being able to pursue a career she truly enjoyed, because you didn’t always have that luxury there.

In my final years of high school, I realized that I had developed a passion for numbers. Since then, I have been determined to make a career out of that, one that would help me not only to accomplish my goals, but also to help my family and secure a positive future for those around me. I had the strong feeling that if I were capable enough, I could provide a better life for my family and we would never live in fear of going back to where we were when I was younger.

That’s how I came to enroll in college in January of 2017 and moved to the capital, six hours away from my home city, to pursue a career in bank and finance administration. I was still unclear about how I would achieve my goals when I received a call from the Episcopal Church leadership a few months later, inviting me to an interview that would change my life. The interview led to a full scholarship to attend college here in the U.S. that same year.

In the years since then, I have accomplished many amazing things and the future is looking bright, but there have always been days where the path ahead didn’t look so nice and easy. In fact, I doubted my skills, capabilities and my own intellect many times. I often found myself overthinking and experiencing anxiety, loneliness and even depression. It was during those days that I wished I had my family close, to hear their words and feel their hugs, but I had to accept that it was not possible.

A growing sense of family

WhatsApp and FaceTime became my best friends, something that may not seem like a big deal for some, but it was for me. I had to change my whole perspective, and instead of letting this separation from my family bring me down, I turned it into motivation to keep pushing. Every time that I broke down, I would think of my family and how much they are counting on me and what being here means to them. I realized that building a career for myself here in the U.S. means that every single day I am representing something much greater than myself. Every day I represent my family, my country and my heritage.

It’s funny, how for so many years I had the wrong definition of family, and that it had to take being far away from my first family to begin to understand what family truly means. Family for me now is not just the group of people that you are born into and with whom you share last names. Family has expanded to a whole different level.

Since my freshman year, I have known that if I wanted to become successful, I needed to stay focused and that even though I didn’t have my family close, I would always have people encouraging me along the way. Throughout these years I had the opportunity to build personal and professional connections that have guided me along the path to success. I have had many advisors, mentors and professors with whom I have had strong bonds. Now, four years later, I can say with confidence that it is crucial to create these relationships with others in order to keep moving forward. It is in these relationships that you find your family, those who show you that constant love, support and encouragement.

My family has been my main source of motivation, but my family is not only in Honduras. I have found family in my peers and friends in school. I have found family in the different parents in the U.S. that have taken me in as their own daughter and incorporated me into their families because their hearts have allowed them to do so. I have found family in organization leaders who have opened their arms and taken me in as a mentee. And overall, I have always found family within the Episcopal Church, no matter where I have resided.

So yes, my motivation has been and will continue to be my family, but this is not limited to the Gutierrez Castillo household only, but to every other person that I have had the good fortune to call my family. Thanks to this, even though there will always be challenges, I know that I will never be alone.

Angela Gutierrez Castillo is a Hondureña, born and raised. She came to the U.S. in 2017 to attend Saint Augustine's University, in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she was a Presidential Scholar and a community/student leader. She graduated summa cum laude with a B.S. in Accounting this past spring and completed an Audit & Assurance Internship in Atlanta, Georgia, during the summer. She moves to New York this fall to pursue a M.S. in Applied Analytics at Columbia University, where she is the 5th cohort for the HBCU Fellowship Program. After graduation, she will begin a full-time position with Deloitte’s Audit & Assurance team in the NYC, NY office.


This article is part of the September 2021 Vestry Papers issue on Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month