Human Health and Wellness

Deode Castro wants to leave a legacy.

Most likely, it’s going to involve under-served youth and rescue horses.

Deode Castro, HDFS '13

Castro is graduating this year from OSU-Cascades with a degree in Human Development and Family Sciences (HDFS). He’s been accepted to the counseling graduate program at OSU-Cascades and will begin his studies to be a clinical mental health counselor this summer.

He’s also been recognized as the 2013 Distinguished Student in his program area. One student from each academic program area is recognized each year.

When Castro was a kid growing up in Buffalo, New York, he was fascinated by two things—water and wild horses. One summer a teacher of Castro’s and her husband took him to a lake in upstate New York for the weekend. They went sailing, and Castro was hooked. 

“Right then I became fascinated with boats,” says Castro.

It was an experience that had a remarkable impact. Castro joined the Coast Guard after high school and served in the United States Coast Guard and Coast Guard Reserves for sixteen years—working  on both coasts and the gulf coast, taking ships through the Bering Straits to Alaska.

After the Coast Guard, Castro and his wife, an avid horsewoman, moved to Prineville. There, he opened up his own business transporting troubled youth struggling with addiction and behavioral issues to educational wilderness programs and boarding schools specializing in serving this population. The young adults responded well to Castro’s caring, thoughtful approach.

“But I found that I wanted to do more,” says Castro. “I was transporting kids whose parents had the resources to get them help. I wanted to work with kids from more vulnerable populations.”

Castro decided to head back to school and pursue an addiction studies degree at Central Oregon Community College. But he didn’t stop there.

“I guess I wasn’t quite satisfied with a two-year degree,” he says. “I was hungry for more.”

He transferred to OSU-Cascades with the eventual goal of achieving a master’s in counseling.

During his time at OSU-Cascades, Castro focused his observation hours at a Head Start site helping children prepare for school and interned at Harmony House retirement community, where he engaged meaningfully with the elderly. He is currently fininshing up an internship at the Department of Human Services (DHS), Child Welfare Division in Prineville. 

“The most impressive aspects of Deode are those that cannot be taught,” notes his supervisor at Harmony House. “They are the characteristics that are innate and those that will make him a competent and valuable counselor.”

Faculty members in HDFS have been consistently impressed with his maturity, dedication, and his willingness to move out of his comfort zone into new areas of study and service during his time at OSU-Cascades.

“The faculty is really outstanding,” says Castro. “I can’t think of one professor who hasn’t gone the extra mile.”

Now, about those wild horses.

“You know as a kid, those Winston-Marlboro cigarette commercials,” says Castro. “I was fascinated by the wild horses as they kicked up clouds of dust in those commercials.”

Today, he and his wife rescue domestic and wild horses from abusive and inadequate care environments. Eventually, Castro would like to use his master’s degree in counseling to create a program from under-served urban youth that incorporates animal husbandry and agriculture, involving the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields to help children become curious and ambitious about math and science.

“I want to leave a legacy,” says Castro. “I really can see myself 90-year-old, in my sweats, in a nursing home somewhere and I really want to look back and know I left something—not monetary or properties—but that I made a difference to someone. That’s always been biggest thing.”