Pursuing a Dream and Beating the Odds
Jordyn Castor’s passion for accessibility makes a difference at Wall Street, as she pursues career path that will impact the lives of others.
Pursuing a Dream and Beating the OddsOctober 15, 2014
Jordyn Castor entered the world nearly four months early and weighing just over a pound. Doctors give babies born so small a low chance of surviving, but her parents were determined.
The lifesaving acts performed in a neonatal intensive care unit in Grand Rapids, Michigan, caused Castor’s retinas to detach. This left her completely blind and set in motion an unforeseen chain of events that would shape Castor’s life and inevitably the lives of others.
Now, a senior at Michigan State, Jordyn is on an important path, one that led her all the way to New York City. She recently completed a highly-competitive internship with a top Wall Street investment bank and security management firm.
“You know, I’ve never been to a city of this capacity before,” said Castor. “My family was nervous, but I told them these opportunities only come around once in a blue moon.”
The investment bank was interested in Castor not only for her qualifications as a computer programmer, but for her determination to make software more usable for individuals who are disabled.
“My interest in technology and computer science started when I was in the second grade and my family bought our very first computer,” she said.
The computer opened a new world for Castor. She could easily access the Internet, check email, and send instant messages.
“I think it's very important to understand that individuals with disabilities are just normal people,” said Castor. “We can do anything that anyone else can do-- with some adaptations.”
Five years after the computer arrived, Castor wrote her first program for the National Federation of The Blind Youth Slam a conference to encourage blind youth to consider careers in science, technology, engineering, and math.
This inspired Castor to stay the course and study computer science, a field that holds promise for people who are blind and for women.
A SPARTAN ENGINEER
At MSU fewer than 13 percent of the students studying computer science are female--something the College of Engineering is actively addressing, not only to ensure a more diverse student body, but also for the contributions women bring to the field.
MSU’s Center for Spartan Engineering and the student organization, Women in Computing, made sure Castor was prepared for her career pursuits. She was awarded a stipend to cover a trip to the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, the world's largest gathering of women technologists. It was at the Grace Hopper event that Castor landed her Wall Street internship.
Another significant program that has made a difference in Castor’s success is the Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities (RCPD) .
“RCPD has been extremely helpful in ensuring my success," she said. “They have done everything in their power to make sure I succeed including brailling my textbooks by hand.”
MSU demonstrates international leadership in providing the latest disability technology, resources and services. Through its signature programs MSU assembles a team of volunteers who braille text for students. Additionally, RCPD provided a scholarship to Castor to help cover living expenses while she was in New York. Private support plays an important role in RCPD, helping to keep services available to students at no cost.
Castor confesses that she was waiting for admission to another school when her Mom read a letter out loud ‘Congratulations, Jordyn. You have been accepted to MSU.’
Although MSU wasn’t her first choice, a visit to campus quickly changed her mind.
She’s been an extraordinary Spartan ever since, including attending the Rose Bowl and making the ESPN victory photo.
“What really empowered me at MSU has been the opportunity to see the impact I can have on someone else’s life. By just being myself and sharing my passions, I am able to make a real difference that can potentially shape the lives of others.”
For more information on contributing to the Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities, contact Senior Director of Development Jennifer Bertram at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (517) 432-7330.
For more information on contributing to scholarships and endowments in the College of Engineering, contact Senior Director of Development Stephen Bates at email@example.com or by calling (517) 355-8339.