Emelie Castillo will use the $2,000 from the Hispanic Chamber to
help pay tuition
Gilroy – When Emelie Castillo decided to join the competition for a $2,000 scholarship, she faced a dilemma. A component of the Gilroy Hispanic Chamber of Commerce contest is the talent show and since the 18-year-old doesn’t dance or sing, she showcased a different skill set: her diction.
Castillo read a poem called “Mujer” or “Woman” in Spanish to the crowd at the GHCC Ambassador’s Ball on Friday night at the Elks Lodge. Having performed in plays since the age of 10, the Gilroy High School senior didn’t experience stage fright. But she was nervous the audience wouldn’t understand the significance of her selection.
“I didn’t just want them to hear me read the poem,” she said. “I wanted them to feel what was happening and maybe they could even relate.”
Apparently, it worked. Castillo took home the top prize, at the end of the night. Two other women, both Gavilan College students, were contenders. The participants dressed in native garb and answered an impromptu question during the event.
Castillo decided to read a poem instead of performing a monologue because she wanted her selection to weigh on the audience. She choice “Mujer,” an English poem interspersed with Spanish words by Irene Lopez Aparicio, because of the significance of the message.
“It made me cry the first time I read it,” she said. The poem is about a Latina, who has spent her life working extremely hard so that her children won’t have to, Castillo said. It addresses unfair wages and hours, and the many harsh realities of her life as an Hispanic woman.
Castillo, born of a Mexican-American father and Guatemalan mother, wore a Guatemalan costume to the ball. During the question-and-answer session, Castillo was asked why she deserves the Hispanic scholarship.
“I said that I really wanted to get it because I think I’m the new face of Latino women living in America,” she said.
Castillo said she does a good job of embracing her Mexican and Guatemalan heritage, while still being a proud American. The Gilroy native plans to use the extra cash to help her parents pay her tuition at California State University, Northridge.