Castillo succeeds with hard work, determination
Yong Castillo, a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born and raised in South Korea, works in the Anniston Contracting Office. Through persistence and a lot of hard work, she has earned two bachelor's degrees and is working toward a master's.

ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala. -- I was born and raised in South Korea. It was there I met my husband, who was serving in the U.S. Army at the time.

We met on a small U.S. military post where I worked as an office clerk. He asked me out for a cup of coffee one day and we began to date, going out to restaurants and becoming good friends.

We talked about many different things, which I enjoyed, for I was improving my skills with English.

Then, he received orders to return to the U.S. and we were separated.

We met again when I came to America on a student visa for English Language training. The English language is very important to careers in Korea.

We married about three months later in a small chapel in Virginia.

Legal immigrants, or green card holders, are eligible for citizenship after five years of residency.

Once I was ready to begin the process, I waited about a year for the naturalization interview and civics test. Then, another six months for a background check to be complete. I was granted citizenship several years ago when I took the Oath of Allegiance at a naturalization ceremony in Georgia.

I was a stay-at-home mom until I thought my youngest child was old enough for daycare.

I went to work at Wal-Mart first, then changed jobs a few times for a better pay and employment conditions until I settled at a company in Jacksonville.

Then came the 2008 housing bubble bust and its subsequent, worldwide financial crisis.

The company I worked for laid off about 10 percent of its workforce, based on seniority. I was sent home and was unemployed about five months. Luckily, I received a phone call from Jacksonville State University's career service center regarding an interview with Anniston Army Depot.

At the time, I was working toward my second bachelor's degree (My first degree is from a university in South Korea). I did not get hired for the summer job, but they later called me for a cooperative education opportunity while completing my bachelor's degree in accounting.

I started my accounting degree while working at a manufacturing company in Anniston.

It was difficult to balance the daily schedule between school and work. I quit a job once in order to find an employer whose schedule allowed me to coordinate better between the two.

Sometimes, I had to work 50-60 hours a week and it was hard to find time to study. I took textbooks to work and studied during breaks in the restroom.

In the end, my persistence paid off with good grades and job opportunity with a better pay.

I am still enrolled at JSU and I plan to finish my master's program this summer.

Currently, I work as a cost/price analyst in the Anniston Contracting Office.

Contracting work is not easy. It is highly regulated and scrutinized at all times. However, I am getting used to complexity of the contracting environment and appreciate what I do, as there is a lot of room to grow and develop myself further. I also enjoy working with the people in contracting.

This article was not an easy experience for me. I am not accustomed to the idea of talking about myself in front of a big audience.

Also, being humble and keeping a low profile is viewed as a virtue in the culture I grew up. Standing out of the crowd is often viewed as arrogance.

I consider myself average, full of flaws. But, I thought I could use this opportunity to express the great appreciation I have for my job at Anniston Army Depot. I truly appreciate the opportunity I have at the depot and try every day to do my best.

Page last updated Thu May 8th, 2014 at 00:00