Leslie Castrejon '15: First Assistant Dean for Student Support and Belonging

September 22, 2021 by Alex Kelly

This fall, Leslie Castrejon '15 joined the staff at the Pensby Center as the Assistant Dean for Student Support and Belonging. Originally from Princeton, N.J., Leslie was a Spanish major and education minor, and completed an independent study on “Education in America for Undocumented Students." After graduating, Leslie worked in a variety of education programs and attended Temple University for a master’s in higher education. As a dean, Leslie will provide programming, support, and outreach for first generation, low-income (FLGI) students as well as students who are undocumented, DACA-mented, or come from mixed immigration status families.

In order to help the college get to know her better, we reached out to Dean Castrejon with a few questions.

What drew you to this job?

I identified as a FGLI student during my time at Bryn Mawr and come from a mixed status family. When I learned that this role was created, I thought back to the times I encountered obstacles that I couldn’t talk about with anyone, and didn’t think was something Bryn Mawr could support me with even when it held a direct impact on my college experience. With that in mind, I knew that this would be an incredible opportunity to be a part of creating a long-lasting and meaningful experience for students coming from similar backgrounds.

What help can you offer for FGLI students?

There are various ways I can support FGLI students, some of which may depend on what the student’s interests are. Some examples of support that I can provide include: helping students get settled onto campus, whether that is making a trip to the storage facility to pick up their dorm supplies or heading to the store to purchase needed items; accompanying the student to meet with financial aid, the counseling center or another office; getting them connected with other students through events and programs; supporting them through homesickness and/or “culture shock” of being in a completely new and different environment; and answering questions that may appear to be “silly” but are certainly not.

What help can you offer for undocumented or DACA students?

Like my response in supporting FGLI students, I plan to offer similar support to undocumented, DACA-mented students and students from mixed-status families. Additionally, I can provide students with resources including scholarship and fellowship opportunities as well as connect them with legal services and support as needed. Moreover, I plan to offer workshops, programs and events such as a FAFSA and CSS Profile Renewal workshop, the Immigration Support Group in collaboration with the Counseling Center, and more!

Are you planning any events?

Yes! I’m excited to share that the Pensby Center will be hosting a Meet and Greet for students on Wednesday, Sept. 29, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Dorothy Vernon Room located in New Dorm Dining Hall. Later that day, I will also be hosting Game Night, our first FGLI event from 5 to 6 p.m. in Denbigh Common Room.

Additionally, I am partnering with the Dean for Intercultural Engagement, Joi Dallas, on two events. First, we are collaborating with Mujeres* on hosting a salsa competition in the ECC Kitchen on Oct. 6 to celebrate Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month. Want to compete? Click here to sign up! People can also tune into the event through the Pensby and ECC Instagram pages and we will also be conducting a grocery trip on Oct. 23 to three different supermarkets offering a variety of authentic Asian-, Latinx- and African/Caribbean-based goods (Click here to register!)

Additional FGLI-based programming will occur in October such as a “How-to-Budget” workshop featuring Emilie Leather from the Financial Aid Office and an information session of the 360° Program with Sarah Theobald from the Office of the Provost, keep a lookout for further information!

What have you been up to since you graduated from Bryn Mawr?

After college, I decided that I wanted to stay in the area, so I moved to Philadelphia and decided to participate in City Year as an AmeriCorp member. After a rewarding experience and spending some time working for Philadelphia’s bikeshare program known as Indego, I was offered the opportunity to work for one of Princeton Unviersity’s college preparation programs. After a few years, I realized that I wanted to continue working with college students so I decided to continue my education at Temple University where I completed a master’s in higher education. I then started working at Villanova University, where I eventually became Assistant Director for Retention. Outside of Villanova, I had also joined the Tapestry Working Committee which is Bryn Mawr’s alumnae of color affinity group, where I’ve had the chance to connect with alumnae of color while also reconnecting with old friends.

How does it feel to be back at Bryn Mawr?

It’s great being back! It still feels like home but with a splash of newness. For instance, the construction for New Dorm and the Enid Cook '31 Center was in progress during my senior year and as a former Mujeres* and Zami member, it’s wonderful to see how the ECC has become the new home for the affinity groups that were part of Perry House. It has also been great catching up with faculty and staff I knew from when I was a student and now can collaborate with as a colleague.

What are you looking forward to the most?

I am looking forward to continuing getting to know students! While I have various ideas on events I’d like to hold, I very much want to hear from students what are some things they would like to see or need. I also look forward to working with students, faculty and staff on continuing to support FGLI and Undocu+ students at Bryn Mawr.

Is there anything else you would like the students, faculty, and staff to know?

I’d like to share that while I primarily serve the FGLI and DACA-mented and undocumented+ communities, I am always happy to connect with anyone. Part of my role is to ensure that students feel welcomed and a sense of belonging at Bryn Mawr, if you or someone you know does not feel as though they are part of the Bryn Mawr community, my door is always open.

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