Total Landscape Care has named Susana Castillo the scholarship winner for the fall 2018 semester.
Castillo, an incoming senior at Texas A&M University, will be awarded $2,500, which will be paid to her college on her behalf. While she has dreamed of making the world a greener place for a long time, she started out in a different major before discovering her current major of plant and environmental soil science.
“It’s a small major, but it’s one that fosters a learning environment that I feel is often lost in larger majors,” she said. “In soil science, I am taught what goes into maintaining plant growth by passionate professors that truly care about teaching their students and their careers.”
She admits that soil science has been the most challenging part of her education but finds it engaging, and she enjoys the hands-on portions from the field labs that help reinforce what she has learned in the classroom.
Castillo was attracted to the industry after discovering how landscaping can increase sustainability and is particularly interested in ecological and environmental planning, as it can help improve the quality of life for those living in urban environments.
“My favorite part about landscaping is that there is so much potential both scientifically and creatively,” Castillo said. “I love the idea of being able to beautify land in a manner that not only promotes sustainable and environmentally friendly practices but can be used for the purpose of helping the environment. I feel that not many other fields can boast that, and it’s one of the reasons that I became interested in landscaping to begin with.”
After graduating, Castillo wants to work within the landscape architecture industry on projects that focus on improving air quality, water conservation practices, and food security within urban areas. In five years, Castillo sees herself either working for a firm in a major metropolitan area improving sustainability via landscaping or completing a master’s degree in landscape architecture.
Eventually, she would like to start her own landscaping company, as she desires to be her own boss and run a company with the mission statement she envisions for it.
“It feels very idealistic and I’m definitely going into it with a ‘save the world’ mentality, but every day I see news stories of people taking chances and successfully making an impact,” Castillo said. “I want to do that with my own company; I want to build a company that will help make urban areas greener and maybe even take part in a project as significant as China’s Forest City someday.”
Another passion of Castillo’s is increasing diversity within the industry on every level. While there are many Hispanic male laborers, Castillo notes that there are not many in higher positions, even within larger companies.
“Many college students that want to go into the landscaping industry do so with the intention of becoming leaders within it, but when there isn’t more leadership involved in diversity already, it discourages future leadership from doing so,” she said. “That can be discouraging to Hispanic students in particular, who often feel isolated in predominantly white classrooms, and it is especially important to show them that there exist associations such as the NHLA within their first semesters at a university in order to encourage them to continue their education.”
For those interested in applying for the spring semester scholarship of $2,500, click here to fill out your application by Nov. 14.