2023 Butler Commencement Features Mother, Sister and Daughter Graduates | Butler Community College

2023 Butler Commencement Features Mother, Sister and Daughter Graduates

Castillo family graduate from Butler
Published: Tuesday, June 20th, 2023

Commencement Completes Six Year Journey for Working Mom

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Three members of one family shared a unique moment as they crossed the stage at Butler Community College’s commencement ceremony on Friday, May 12. 

A mother of five girls, Edith Castillo of Derby finished her Early Childhood Education coursework in December 2022, something she began working towards in 2016. Her daughter Annette Castillo-Lopez and younger sister Alondra Lopez-Gomez graduated from Butler's Early College Academy (ECA) this spring, earning their associate degrees as high schoolers. 

"We didn’t plan it or anything and I don’t think it hit us until we were like, ‘oh, shoot, we’re walking on the same day,’” Edith said. She also noted that she and her sister Alondra are first generation graduates. 

The three sat within two rows of one another and looked for each other while they crossed the stage. “We have a video where they were looking for me like, ‘I did it!’ It was exciting. I wanted to skip walking because I wanted to see my daughter walk from the stadium. But it was kind of cool to be more up close to see her walk and show me her diploma right away,” Edith said. 

Edith started taking classes at Butler one course at a time once her kids were all in school, adding two classes in the fall of 2022 so she could watch her daughter play soccer this past spring. She works as a teacher at The Opportunity Project (TOP), an early learning center serving low-income families, where she leads a class of three- to five-year-olds. 

Edith received a scholarship from TOP and Butler Community College’s Foundation, who worked with the Bank of America Foundation to make the scholarship possible. She is one of several TOP employees or parents of TOP students who come to Butler to pursue their academic goals. 

“My biggest challenge was to stay motivated and to push my own children to go to high school and middle school,” Edith said.  Her favorite lesson from the Butler program was how she learned to recognize her TOP students’ behavior cues as communication. 

Castillo credits Teresa Thompson, former Department Chair for Butler's Early Childhood Education program, for playing a pivotal role in her academic success. “I’m really going to miss her, because she was helpful and encouraging.  She was [always] available to give me any advice or show me connections [to] other students or teachers that could help me,” Edith said. 

Annette graduated from Butler’s health science ECA pathway and, having worked as a Certified Nurse Aide, plans to study nursing at Newman University. “Right now, I’ve been saying [I want to be] a labor and delivery nurse, but I want to explore a little bit.  My first career [choice] was to be a surgeon, so I think I might want to be in the surgical field,” Annette said. She also plans to play soccer at Newman. 

Alondra graduated from Butler’s elementary education ECA pathway and will study early childhood education at Wichita State University. She also works at TOP, having recently moved up to assistant teacher for a classroom of two- to four-and-a-half-year-olds. She plans to stay with TOP after earning her bachelor’s degree. 

Butler is proud to be home to many stories of students like Edith, Alondra and Annette who exemplify academic determination and excellence. 

By Caleb Sanderson