As a first-generation college student with eight siblings, Maximillian Castoreno pursued his goal of completing his education and earning a coveted degree. He’s reached that goal three times, with two bachelor’s degrees from Wayne State, and soon, a master of occupational therapy from the Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.
The 28-year-old southwest Detroit resident knew it wouldn’t be easy. “I wanted to complete college, but being the second-eldest among my siblings, I would be the first to navigate these challenges head on,” Castoreno said.
Along the way, his support group included his parents, who offered encouragement and support. “My parents always made sure that I knew the value of education in today’s society. My initial thought about college, out of high school, was that it was just the next steppingstone to achieving more freedoms and opportunity. I was quick to realize that narrative was short-sighted, and I began thinking about my personal dreams and how to more profoundly connect with my academics.”
Castoreno forged ahead, knowing that he would face various challenges and other bumps in the road. To address the challenges, he worked full time while balancing family responsibilities and rigorous academics. He took on the role of TA for a graduate level anatomy and neuroanatomy course, while maintaining his status on the dean’s list throughout his graduate studies.
During the rigorous journey, Castoreno discovered his vocation.
“I eventually found a field that allowed me to stay motivated in the most meaningful way, so that I could fully embrace my academic journey – occupational therapy. The struggles were numerous, but I am exceedingly grateful for my parents always instilling in me the sentiment that I could accomplish any dreams I ever set out to achieve. Wayne State University, to me, is the focal point for diverse populations to make their dreams come true, no matter their backgrounds.”
Following the May 5 virtual commencement ceremonies, Castoreno plans to pursue a specialization in hand therapy. “This avenue will allow me to treat pathology related to the upper-quadrant, such as tendon lacerations, peripheral nerve disorders and neurological conditions.
Armed with three degrees and a bright future in his chosen vocation, Castoreno reminds his siblings often that they, too, can realize their dreams as long as they don’t let obstacles get in the way. “For me, my journey has been day-to-day, never looking back, always looking forward.”