2015 Ruben Castro Memorial Scholarship Recipient: Josseline Pineda

Josseline Pineda is the 2015 recipient of the Ruben Castro Memorial Scholarship. Josseline’s academic achievement, her volunteer work, and her personal statement embodied the spirit of the scholarship award.

“I want to help people fight illness. Furthering my education will help not only me but my community. I will help spread awareness (of disease and cure) and provide help to those in need,” Josseline said.


Josseline plans to major in Spanish with an emphasis on Pre-Med at UC Riverside where she will do her undergraduate work. Her ultimate goal is to become a doctor and return to Moorpark.

“I’ve always wanted to be a doctor, not for the money or the prestige that comes with the job. I want to be a doctor because I want to help people,” Josseline said. “I want to start a free clinic in Moorpark that provides help for the young, elderly and the less fortunate.”

Born in San Jose Pinula, Guatemala, Josseline’s family immigrated to the United States when she was in eighth grade. Coming to a new school would be a challenge for any child, imagine it is in a new country where you don’t speak the language. Long odds for any child – but Josseline was not just any child.

She had a dream and set in motion a plan to make that dream come true. Along the way she found it necessary make it clear to the occasional glib school know-it-all that statistics and stereotypes about immigrant Latinas would not define her.

“I wasn’t going to let someone who didn’t know me say where I was going or what I was going to do. How could they know?” Josseline said.

Josseline’s desire to overcome her humble beginnings and share her success with her community reminded Moorpark High School counselor Homero Magana so much of himself when he was a teen-ager.

“I met Josseline during her 9th grade year and immediately noticed she was very intelligent,” Magana said at a recent White House presentation for First Lady Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher Initiative. “She was enrolled in English Language Development and general classes but exhibited tremendous academic potential.”

Josseline fulfilled her academic potential at Moorpark High School and looked beyond to see where she could help her community. She is a volunteer aid for Catholic Charities in Moorpark and a translator at the Westminster Free Clinic in Thousand Oaks.

She is a member of the National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society (and tutor), Multicultural Club and a singer in the choir at Holy Cross Church

Her parents, Carlos and Karin both work hard all day long – he is a gardener and she is a part time house cleaner. When her mother did not work, Josseline would accompany her to Catholic Charities and the Free Clinic to volunteer.

“I learned from my mother what it means to have a dream, work hard and follow through,” Josseline said. “I learned from her how important it is, that if we can – we should reach out and help one another.”