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Harper College

A meaningful “thanks” from alumna

photo Dana Romero John & Nancy Castle

Dana Romero (A.A. ’19) counts several highlights from her time as a student at Harper College. She was secretary of the Psychology club, a member of Phi Theta Kappa, an orientation leader, in the Honors Program, a member of several other clubs, and maintained a near 4.0 GPA.

But one experience topped them all: the opportunity to study abroad in Costa Rica through the Honors Program.

“I never thought I would have the option to study abroad,” said Dana. “At times, I was working up to three jobs to help pay for school.”

Her trip was made possible through the Castle International Studies Scholarship, a scholarship that provides financial support to students interested in study abroad who wouldn’t otherwise be able to participate. 

Dana says it was an experience she will never forget; however, she had one regret.

“I never got to thank my scholarship donors, John and Nancy Castle,” said Dana. “And that stuck with me all these years. I hoped one day I could meet them and share my gratitude.”

After graduating from Harper in Spring 2019, Dana completed her bachelor’s degree in Psychology at Northern Illinois University and is now a first-year graduate student working toward her master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Marquette University in Milwaukee. Her goal is to focus on the mental health needs of children and adolescents, with a particular interest in trauma and the effects of incarceration. Either way, she wants to make an impact.

A few months into grad school, she decided to contact the Harper Educational Foundation to see if she still might be able to meet the Castles. On a sunny February day, they were able to meet, just as she always hoped.

John and Nancy Castle were equally delighted to meet Dana. Nancy is a Harper alumna and retired Northern Illinois University faculty member while John spent his career in banking. Nancy shared with Dana that she didn’t travel outside of the U.S. until she was in her forties but when she finally did, she found it eye-opening. Because of that, she and John were determined to help broaden Harper students’ horizons through financial support for an international travel opportunity that Nancy didn’t have as a student.  

Dana cherishes her study abroad experience and the Castles willingness to give that opportunity to students.

“I am so grateful I got to meet them and share the importance that the experience had for me,” said Dana. “It was nice to learn about them and why they do what they do.”

Last Updated: 3/14/24