“Chi-Town” shy guy comes into his own at MCC
Juan Castrejon is a shy guy. Well, at least he was. In his two years at Marshalltown Community College, this Chi-Town kid has learned to come out of his shell and come into his own as a student and an athlete.
“I like Marshalltown,” says Juan, who came to MCC in the fall of 2011. “It’s very calm. I grew up in Chicago so I enjoy the calm and quiet of Marshalltown, Iowa. It was good to get away from home and out on my own.”
Born and raised on the north side of Chicago, Juan always dreamed of playing the game he loved at the next level and to pursue a degree. MCC gave him that chance.
“As a young boy, Juan always dreamt of someday playing soccer in college and getting a good education,” says Connie Gardalen, MCC Student Success Specialist. “He came to MCC and is now living that dream. Juan is an excellent student and a great soccer goalie. He told me MCC changed his life. He hopes to return to Chicago to continue his education and make his family proud. We, at MCC, are very proud of Juan.”
Always a shy kid, Juan says learning to reach out more and talk to people is just one of the many skills he learned in his time at MCC.
“Since coming to MCC I’ve really improved my social skills. I was always such a shy guy. Everyone here is so friendly and willing to help. Public speaking classes also helped me come out of my shell and talk more. It sounds like such a small thing, but these skills will be with me for the rest of my life.”
After graduating from Proviso West High School at Hillside, Juan began his college search. He knew he wanted to play soccer at the next level and he needed some way to get his name out there. So he put some highlight videos of his soccer games from high school onto an athletic recruiting website. MCC Head Soccer Coach Rafael Martinez took notice and set up a visit for Juan to check out the school.
“The day I tried out for soccer, I immediately liked the team and culture. I’ve really enjoyed my time here as a student athlete. The icing on the cake was winning Regionals this year and going to Nationals down in Albany (Georgia). All that hard work and sacrifice paid off.” Juan said he really enjoyed playing under Coach Martinez. “Coach Martinez was the first person that reached out to me from MCC. He’s a good guy and knows his stuff. He keeps us players in a great state of mind and that helps us click. I like people like that.”
Soccer isn’t Juan’s only passion. Growing up, he enjoyed playing video games and messing around with electronics. Computers have always just seemed to click for Juan, even at an early age.
“When I was younger, my cousins and I used to play around with electronics, taking them apart and putting them back together. Sometimes we would even mess with typewriters. I like to think outside the box. Computers have always fascinated me ever since I was a kid and now I’m fortunate enough to pursue a degree in the computer field.”
Juan said he was looking at other colleges out of high school but the community and campus sold him on MCC.
“MCC is a great environment for living and learning. There are always people who reach out to help you. You never feel alone. Professors are willing to stay after class, even for 30 minutes extra to help you out if you need it.”
Juan will graduate this May with an A.A. degree and an emphasis in Computer Network Management. He plans to transfer to a four-year school to keep playing soccer and to finish up with his degree. Right now he has his eye on Robert Morris, St. Francis, and North Park.
PHOTO CAPTION: Juan Castrejon played goalkeeper for the MCC Tigers the last two years. He will graduate with an A.A. degree this May and plans to transfer to a four-year school to keep playing soccer and finish up with his computer science degree.