From Café au Lait to Java

Hi friends, my name is Daniela Castro and I am a 2020/2021 Gilman Alumni Ambassador. I studied French on the Gilman Scholarship in Paris, France Summer of 2017 at the Catholic Institute of Paris. After that, I finished my senior year of college in Grenoble, France on an exchange program studying French. I graduated from Florida State University with a Bachelor of Science in Biomathematics and a Bachelor of Arts in French.

I owe the Gilman Scholarship for helping me realize my potential and influencing where I am today. After my initial time in Paris, I decided to pursue a major in French in addition to my math major from how much I fell in love with the French culture and language. Their quality of food was impeccable. Their dedication to sound architecture and green spaces is unparalleled. Every sentence in French was like hearing a beautiful song that you simply want to learn the lyrics to so you can sing along. I was hooked, and that is an understatement.

I loved how my math skills increased after my time abroad because there is something about being completely independent in another country that teaches you how to problem solve and navigate in all things with greater ease. Furthermore, French and math were a perfect couple. On top of them both being a language to some extent, much of the math we use today was created by French mathematicians.

Upon returning to the states, I completed my Follow-On service project at my university’s College of Medicine where I explained the importance for health care professionals to learn a foreign language to help make more accurate diagnoses. With a large number of our citizens having a native language outside of English, a health care professional being able to speak a few words of their language results in higher trust which results in more information exchange. Higher information exchange means more data to make an informed decision.

The medical world was my life at that time. I was in the Honors Medical Scholars program and was being bred for medical school. When I hit junior year, I had all of my pre-requisites completed, MCAT done, recommendations gathered and I just couldn’t press the submit button. It was the hardest choice of my life and it felt like the end of the world. I felt ashamed to not follow through, but the Gilman scholarship gave me the support I needed to follow my dreams of studying languages… and not in the traditional sense of the word.

To begin my transition outside of medicine, I decided to teach Calc and PreCalc with the Teach for America program in Dallas, TX. It was because of this program that I was able to work with Kode with Klossy over the summer and teach computer programming. Teaching computer programming combined everything I adored- foreign language and problem-solving. This experience is the reason why I am now pursuing my Masters in Computer Science and I have not looked back once.

Hopefully, you did not get too bored by the twist and turns of my life story and made it to this paragraph because it is vital that you hear someone tell you: do what you are good at! There is only one of you, therefore your skill set is unique and you have work that is specifically tailored to you waiting for you to join. When you do what you are good at, you will do what makes you happy because being successful brings endorphins.

Take the first step and study abroad with Gilman.

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