Native American Heritage Month Feature: Andrea Castillo

Andrea Castillo of Delta Omicron Chapter (Lenoir-Rhyne University) is a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, located in North Carolina. She inherited her Native American heritage from her mother’s side of the family.

Andrea grew up in Waynesville, North Carolina, about 30 minutes east of the Eastern Cherokee Reservation. In her early education, Andrea noticed that there was not much depth that went into the teaching of Native American heritage and culture in the standard history curriculum.

“Native American Heritage Month is all about appreciating those sacrifices that the native people have been through and still go through today to be able to share our culture, language, and our story,” Andrea said.

As a part of Andrea’s effort to bring awareness to the Native American heritage, she served as a guide for Folkmoot USA, a nonprofit organization that “fosters the vibrancy of many cultures into one community, builds global relationships, fosters cultural understanding and develops community prosperity,” according to their website.

Andrea and her family enjoy participating in traditional Native American pow wows, celebrating the native music, dancing, as well as having the Reserve museum open.

“In recent years, many people in our tribe have stepped up to ensure we don’t lose our roots and it has been an honor learning about my people at an age where I can better understand the hardship, dedication, and perseverance the Cherokee have gone through,” Andrea said.

As a nursing major, Andrea has the unique opportunity to have a guaranteed position at the local hospital on the Cherokee Reserve after she graduates nursing school. Andrea doesn’t have an exact plan for after graduation yet, but is grateful to have the opportunity to serve those in the Reserve.

During her freshman year in 2019, Andrea found her home in Zeta Tau Alpha. She admired the emphasis on diversity and inclusion she saw in the chapter and knew she would be accepted with open arms.

“Everyone is so different and we all come from different backgrounds and I feel like that’s what made me choose ZTA,” Andrea said. “I felt like since my background was so different and diverse, I would fit in and bring something to the table.”

Since joining ZTA, Andrea has held the positions of Treasurer, Panhellenic Delegate, Membership Enrichment Chair and Mixer Chair. She continues to be proud of her chapter for having hard conversations and that her chapter sisters are always open to having conversations about their differences.

Outstanding Alumna

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