Nathaniel Castillo Rodriguez and grandfather Santiago Ventura sit in Coates dining hall
A New Start
Grandson of immigrant Trinity worker enrolls at Trinity, receives scholarships
Thursday, November 19, 2020

Nathaniel Castillo Rodriguez ‘22 enrolled this spring at Trinity University—the same university where, 30 years ago, his grandfather embarked on a new career in a new country, and set in motion a greater future for his family.

“My grandfather worked at Trinity’s physical plant for 30 years,” says Castillo Rodriguez. His grandfather, Santiago Ventura, began working at Trinity after immigrating from El Salvador, and he plunged his paycheck into his grandson’s private school tuition. His grandmother made sure he always had uniforms to wear. Castillo Rodriguez was elected president of the student council and excelled in math.

“I’ve been pushed not to become complacent,” says Castillo Rodriguez, who is a recipient of a Trinity University Grant (funded by the Trinity Fund), the Trustee Scholarship, and the Noreen M. Murchison Endowed Education Scholarship. He is among Trinity’s many Pell-eligible students. The Federal Pell Grant is designed for families with exceptional financial need that would prohibit them from pursuing college.

After a couple of semesters of community college, Castillo Rodriguez applied to transfer to Trinity and wrote a letter about the connection with his grandfather and the University and was admitted to the Class of 2022.

Before enrolling, Castillo Rodriguez mentally prepared for the academic rigors of Trinity. But he did not anticipate the inspiring light-bulb moments he would experience in the classroom.

“I was mesmerized by the way Trinity professors taught,” recalls Castillo Rodriguez. In a calculus course, for example, he asked Natasa Macura, Ph.D, mathematics professor a question. 

“I asked her about an integration problem, and she broke it down for me,” says Castillo Rodriguez, who is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa academic honor society. “I was blown away,” he says.

“Math is its own philosophy,” he continues. “It is the most universal language there is.” 

As a double major in mathematics and mathematical finance, Castillo Rodriguez speaks passionately about mathematics. Throughout his life, though, he has considered becoming a lawyer. For now, he is heeding advice he received from a mentor: Study a topic that interests you as an undergraduate–it will only serve you if you pursue law school.

“Trinity is about making a full student rather than a person who can do just one thing,” Castillo Rodriguez says.

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