In his time as an undergraduate, Castaneda also played a part in changing campus culture by helping students develop a sense of belongingness. He accomplished this in his capacity as the president of a spoken word poetry club on campus and as a community assistant at the Vista del Campo Norte housing community. He supported students’ developing belongingness through hosting club meetings that allow students to have a safe space to express their emotions in an artistic manner. Castaneda acted as a role model and resource for his 72 assigned residents and many of the other more than 1500 residents that live at the housing community. He also attended the University of California, Irvine's All-University leadership conference which includes a select number of students who all have similar mindsets and ambitions to create a campus more inclusive for different types of marginalized groups.
As he approaches completion of the CalTeach program, Castaneda is expecting to earn his degree in biological science and his preliminary teaching credential by the end of the school year. He is currently student teaching at Buena Park High School, having had field teaching opportunities at the elementary and middle school levels at Newport-Mesa and Santa Ana School Districts.
"I have enjoyed working with all different grade levels of students, but I discovered I prefer teaching high school students because they will soon be entering the real world," Castaneda said. "I expect to be a resource and mentor to students, especially those students from minoritized backgrounds who are interested in attending college."
In November, 2019, Castaneda received a 2019-20 President's Educator Fellowship, awarded to excelling students who have committed to working in public schools that primarily serve students from low-income families. Receiving the President's Educator Fellowship was especially well-timed for Castaneda, since he has had to cut back on his work hours due to his dedication to his studies and his current placement at Buena Park High School, where he expects to exceed 600 hours of work this year.
"The fellowship is providing tremendous help when it comes to paying for rent in Irvine and the cost of daily transportation to and from Buena Park," Castaneda said.
Castaneda looks forward to returning to San Bernardino and teaching high school biology.