Shi'Ann

A graduating senior at Ánimo Jackie Robinson Charter High School, will be the first in her family to attend college—2000 miles away from home.

This fall, Shi’ Ann Castle, a Los Angeles native, intends to study psychology at Stillman College, a historically black college in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, which is roughly 60 miles southwest of Birmingham. Ready to embark on her new adventure, Castle shared her motivations behind attending a historically black college, and how her high school teachers and counselors helped her make this life-changing decision. 

Q: How does it feel to be the first person in your family to attend college? 

A: It's been a very big standard for my younger family members. They’ll grow up knowing that if I can do it, they can do it too.  

What motivated you to attend a Historically Black College?

For me personally, I’ve always wanted to attend an HBCU (Historically Black College or University). I’ve wanted to be around people like me and people who have goals like me. And I like the environment of HBCUs that I've seen. They are amazing.

Why did you choose to major in psychology? 

I ultimately want to become a licensed marriage family therapist. I chose that because I always wanted to advocate mental health and how much it matters for younger folk. I think it’s often overlooked in teens.

How did Ánimo Jackie Robinson prepare you to make that decision? 

I started attending Ánimo Jackie Robinson in 11th grade. But before I decided to come here, my grades were terrible. But now I'm going to graduate with a 3.0, and the teachers I have had really pushed me and motivated me. The school set me up with a mentor who helped me with my work and the college process. I had a great support system. 

Who inspired you at your high school to go to college? 

I would say my 11th grade English teacher Ms. Laguna. She became my mentor. She has pushed me to do so much, and has helped me with my goals and my career choice. She really broke it down and explained everything to me. 

Any words for the rising seniors? 

To anybody younger out there: Never give up. You have to start off strong. You have to keep going. You have to follow your dreams. Be ready to expand, and look for different things and chances in life.