For Faith Academy valedictorian Maryha Castillo, pursuing a career in medical prosthetics isn’t just about her fascination with math and science.

“I want to help people in need. I want to open up better opportunities for those people,” said Castillo, 18.

Sunday, Castillo will graduate at the top of her class with plans to study biomedical engineering at the University of Texas at San Antonio. But whatever plans she may have, Castillo’s die-hard dedication and hardworking attitude will ensure her success, said Gil Gonzalez, who serves as the school’s pastor and athletic director.

“She accomplishes whatever she needs to be accomplished,” said Gonzalez. “If she is on your team, she is going to give it everything she has.”

Castillo’s friend, salutatorian Grace Gonzalez, who is not related to the pastor, said she also had great faith in Castillo’s abilities.

“She’ll do good,” said Castillo’s friend.

Castillo has applied that attitude to a variety of interests during her high school career, from playing shortstop on the softball team to participating in the school’s spring musical to serving on student council. She also works at Sonic and rushed to that job after school Thursday.

“Her performance speaks for itself,” the school’s pastor said.

Born to hardworking parents, Castillo, a lifelong Victoria resident, said she will be the first in her family to finish college.

And Castillo thanked her parents for their powerful motivation. She said they often encouraged her to achieve nothing less than an A+ on assignments and exams.

“They knew my full potential,” she said. “They told me I had a bright future ahead of me.”

Born in Victoria, she said she has become used to small town living, but with graduation days away, Castillo said she also was looking forward to beginning her adult life in San Antonio.

Although she admitted to being a little daunted by the big city, she was nevertheless looking forward to the opportunities awaiting her.

“There will be better opportunities in a bigger city,” she said, adding, “It’s going to be super exciting.”

Jon Wilcox reports on courts for the Victoria Advocate. He may be reached jwilcox@vicad.com or 361-580-6515.

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Jon covers crime, public safety and the courts at the Victoria Advocate. Born in Huntsville, Ala., he grew up in Atlanta, Ga. and obtained a bachelor's degree in journalism at Texas State University.

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