Best Under 40: Rafael Castaneda

Rafael Castaneda
Rafael Castaneda

Age: 20
Occupation: Student at Roosevelt University in Chicago
Residence: Chicago
Hometown: Woodstock
Family: Single; I am the youngest of three siblings
Education: Associate degree in arts from McHenry County College; currently a junior at Roosevelt University in Chicago pursuing a bachelor's degree in social justice studies with a minor in Spanish. Looking into getting a master's degree in higher education
Favorite McHenry County restaurant: Woodstock Public House in Woodstock
Favorite movie: I don't have a favorite movie, I like all types such as comedy, action, horror and family films
One word that describes you? Optimistic

What is your job and what makes you so good at it?

As of right now, I am a full-time student. What makes me good at it would have to be my personality. I am very friendly and good with people, which helps me when it comes to helping around campus and meeting new people.

What accomplishments and innovations are you most proud of this year?

This year I am most proud of graduating with my associate’s degree, studying abroad in Costa Rica for six weeks, continuing my education at Roosevelt University and, of course, winning this prestigious award.

How do you give back to the community and what drives your service?

I give back to the community by volunteering and helping the most I can. Since I was in middle school I have been involved with many organizations.

As one of my colleagues from the Family Health Partnership Clinic once said: “Once volunteerism is in your blood stream you can’t get it out.” 

What is something you have never done but want to do some day?

It would be skydiving. I have not had a chance to do this yet and it is definitely on my to-do list. 

What is the best career advice you have received?

The best career advice I have received would be to learn and strive for my education because what I know is mine and no one can ever take that away.

Nominator’s comment:

“I have known Rafa since December 2007 when he walked into my office as a high school freshman with a desire to volunteer at [Family Health Partnership] Clinic,” said Kathy Rauch, volunteer coordinator at the clinic in Woodstock. “It did not take me long to see that here was a student with determination to serve his community. From coordinating projects, filing, and making copies, hauling, recycling, and acting as our Chief of Cleanup for the Care4 Breast Cancer Race, Rafa clearly performed volunteer duties in a mature and professional manner.

“Rafa has caught the attention of enough community leaders that in 2012 he was voted in as the first youth board member of the McHenry County Community Foundation.”

In my work as volunteer coordinator at the clinic for the past seven years, I cannot think of any other person Rafa’s age that has made such a positive impact on his community in such a short time.”

His contributions to the Family Health Partnership Clinic, Woodstock High School, McHenry County College, and to his beloved McHenry County community as a whole are significant. He is a role model and mentor to his fellow students.”

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