Growing up in Ecuador, computer engineering major Fidel Castro didn’t really think much of having the same name as the late Communist leader of Cuba.
“The name is a bigger deal here in the U.S. than in Ecuador,” says Castro, whose youngest brother is also named Fidel and whose three other brothers share it as a middle name.
But when Castro and his family moved to Worcester, Massachusetts, when he was in high school, he noticed people’s reactions when he introduced himself.
“It bothered me a little at first, but then I realized it was a great conversation starter. And there’s no way to forget the name,” he says.
After transferring to UML from Worcester State University as a sophomore, Castro quickly immersed himself in opportunities. An Honors College student with a minor in business administration, he is vice president of the International Business Association and a member of the club soccer team.
During the summer before his junior year, he joined nine business students on a service learning trip to Panama, where they served as consultants to small businesses. Castro’s team helped a poultry farmer come up with a name for his business, Pollos González, and Castro designed the logo.
“I’ve been drawing since I was little and did art for fun in high school,” says Castro, who won a scholarship for classes at the Worcester Art Museum.
Castro is a member of the electronics team for River Hawk Racing, the university’s Formula SAE team. He is also conducting research with Electrical and Computer Engineering Asst. Prof. Orlando Arias, looking at cybersecurity hardware for electric grids.
“A lot of companies see cybersecurity as an expense rather than an investment,” he says. “I want to bring technology into business, to help businesses grow and develop.”
Castro, a first-generation college student who didn’t speak English when he moved to the U.S., is now helping his brother Alessandro get settled as a mechanical engineering major in the Francis College of Engineering.
“I never realized how much I was learning about school until my brother started asking questions,” he says.
Looking ahead, Castro plans on getting hands-on experience with a co-op or internship — and one day making a name for himself in the field of nanotechnology manufacturing.
“I can change the reputation of the name after I become a computer engineer and do great things,” he says with a smile.