Hometown: Medford, NJ
Class of 2011
ROTC, Class of 2011
Senior Cadet Captain Maggie Castile never forgets a date: she vividly remembers October 15, 2007. That day, she walked into the Air Force ROTC Detachment 750 at Saint Joseph’s University to enlist. “I knew that I loved St. Joes; I knew that I loved Campus Ministry and everything that I was doing here, but something was missing,” says Castile. “And through reflection and talking with Fr. [Dan] Joyce and others, I realized what was missing, and what was really screaming from inside of me: that I needed to fulfill a higher calling.”
Castile, who is from Medford, N.J., comes from a military family. Her father attended the United States Military Academy at West Point, and both of her grandfathers were active in the U.S. Army for more than 20 years. Although she did not truly decide until arriving at SJU, Castile always knew that she was called to serve.
“It was always a part of my life, but I was the girl and the oldest, and I was just supposed to go to medical school, and my brother would go into the military or somebody else would,” says Castile. “But it really was something that I knew was my calling, and something that my dad instilled in me as a young child.”
After Commencement on May 14, and her commissioning ceremony a day later, Castile, a chemical biology major with minors in Spanish and aerospace studies, will attend medical school, where she received early admission. She will be a reserve officer in the U.S. Air Force while on active duty at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, the U.S. federal health sciences university located in Bethesda, Md. Castile will also serve a one-year residency at an air base before serving 11 years as a physician in the Air Force.
Just as she knew that she would serve in the military, Castile knew from an early age that she wanted to become a doctor. “My mom always makes a joke, but if you look at my ‘star of the week’ posters that children do in elementary school, I always put that I wanted to be a doctor and an art teacher, or a doctor and a ballet teacher, but it was always doctor,” says Castile with a laugh.
“I wanted to serve people,” Castile adds, “and the Air Force seemed like the place where I would fulfill my passions, and also be an asset to both our country and to the people who are protecting our future.”
Lt. Colonel Joan Fournier, commander of SJU’s AFROTC Detachment 750, believes that Castile’s personality, which Fournier saw first-hand as she watched her grow throughout her four years in the Wing, makes her an ideal candidate for medical school.
“Maggie is a liaison, a peacemaker, the glue that holds it all together, very outgoing, very positive, a trustworthy person, wonderful with personal issues and motivating people when they are down, finding solutions and being proactive,” says Fournier. “So when I look at all of those qualities, Maggie is perfect for medical school. She really has that bed-side manner, if you will.”
Along with her roles at the detachment, where she most recently served as the Vice Wing Commander, Castile also served as a campus leader for other service, volunteer and faith-based organizations. In addition to her work as group leader in Koinonia, a faith and community-building organization that meets weekly, and the ESCAPE Retreat sponsored by Campus Ministry, she tutors several young adults who are seeking their GED in Camden, N.J., she was a pre-med volunteer at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania during the summer. During this time, she carried a 3.79 G.P.A., and was inducted into Alpha Sigma Nu, the honor society of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, Alpha Epsilon Delta, the pre-medical honor society, and Sigma Delta Pi, the Spanish honor society.
Mark Reynolds Ph.D., associate professor of chemistry and director of the chemical biology program, says that Castile’s ability to achieve high academic grades in such a challenging major, complete the rigorous AFROTC program, and still devote herself to service, sets her apart from her peers.
“What's unusual about Maggie is that she has done outstanding work as a student in a demanding major and as a trainee in the exacting Air Force ROTC program. This took an enormous amount of time, because it included a lot of additional coursework and training,” says Reynolds. “I can't think of another student in the past ten years who has achieved this. Maggie's ability to multi-task clearly sets her apart from her fellow students.”
However, Castile would not have it any other way.
“To be an officer in the Armed Forces is the most humbling and most exciting thing,” says Castile. “I am really proud of having stuck it out. To be a science major and in ROTC at the same time was a very long haul that required many sacrifices, but I think I am where I need and want to be.”