Meet the team: Nallely Castro Montoya

This week, we feature Nallely Castro Montoya, Esperanza United’s Youth Initiatives Specialist. Nallely has been working at Esperanza United (formerly Casa de Esperanza) since May of 2014.

 How did you start with Esperanza United?

I started as a Peer Educator when I was a junior in high school (2009). During my college career I came back to Casa and did over 200 hrs of volunteer work, where I continued to work with the Youth Initiatives Program with Lumarie and with Misty after that.

Where are you from?

I was born in Michoacán, Mexico. However, I was raised in St. Paul, Minnesota. My parents brought me to the United States a few months after I turned one.

Where do you feel most at home?

I feel most at home when I’m at family gatherings. Listening to stories from my elders and enjoying my time eating and laughing with my family is what I love the most.

In terms of your work for Esperanza United, what are your areas of expertise?

I have a B.A in Chicano-Latino Studies and a B.S in Family Social Science from the University of Minnesota-Twins Cities. When I interconnect my majors in regards to my youth work, it helps me better understand the experiences that my Latina youth go through and how that relates to their families and societal expectations and/or stereotypes. My work at Esperanza United is youth development and helping Patricia Moen, the Special Projects Manager, with improvements on our youth curriculum.

Share one thing you have learned, big or small, doing your work. 

I have learned that the voice of our youth is very important in the work that I do. We cannot discredit the issues that youth care about because they are young. We need to be working with them because teaching them is just as important as learning from them. I have also learned that building relationships with youth is the start of a beautiful journey.

What are some of the successes you are most proud of while at Esperanza United?

I think that overall I am most proud of just being here. I started out as a youth and here I am now leading the youth group I was once a participant of. I am proud that I am now doing what the youth group did for me. It motivated me to follow my dreams; it taught me to see myself as a leader because I am a leader, and it made me feel like I belonged and like someone truly believed in me. I am proud and excited to be a role model, mentor and friend for my youth like Lumarie Orozco, my youth leader, was and still is for me.

Who or what inspires you?

What inspires me is seeing my youth happy and motivated to accomplish what they set their minds to. Being able to see their improvements throughout time really motivates me to keep doing the work that I do. My inspiration truly comes from my youth.

What do you do to relax, de-stress or recharge your batteries?

I love going on long walks or short runs especially in Minnesota because I love watching the seasons change. Watching movies with my nieces and younger sister also helps. They are like my daughters, so coming home and spending time with them is always great—that is, if they are not fighting. Also, last but not least, dancing. I love dancing!