Racquel Sarah Castro, MSIT
Co-Lead, She Loves Data – Manila Chapter
Edited by Nayantara Som
I vividly remember the day when an acquaintance casually asked my mother, “Is your daughter even capable of reading and writing?” That broke her heart and shattered my world.
And that was just the tip of the iceberg.
Discrimination has been a part and parcel of my life, and being treated unequally slowly led to disappointment, self-denial sometimes, and even to a situation wherein I started underestimating my capabilities. Looking back, I can’t blame myself. I was only human. However, despite all of this, I never lost hope – faith in that shinning beacon of light at the end of the tunnel.
One day, I decided to shake myself up, stop wallowing in self-pity and told myself, “I am the architect of my own destiny; the scriptwriter and the protagonist of my own story.” That was indeed the turning point in my life. I thereon decided to prove to the world that cerebral palsy will not stop me from achieving my dreams. It would not be an obstacle, but instead a springboard to my goals. It became my asset. The catalyst that infused a fire in my belly. My superpower.
And since then, it has been no looking back.
I went on to publish five self-published books and anthologies. I started a YouTube channel, wherein I featured some of my passion projects such as She Loves Data. I was featured by our senator in the Philippines, Sonny Angara in his column in Manila Bulletin. I was also featured by different local and international bloggers. My former employer, City Government of Binan, also offered a scholarship grant for me. I will be forever grateful.
People often ask me, “What kept you going?” A lot of factors, but my family was the most important factor. I had this urge to take care of my family, being the first-born child. It is this drive that has helped me achieve my goals. Yes, my journey has not been straightforward – there have no doubt been lot of ups and downs. Losing my father was one of them. It really shook me. But I had to move forward for the sake of my family, and for myself.
Joining She Loves Data has been a turning point in my life. To me it represents an ideal, a movement. A movement that empowers women and helps them stay relevant in a data-driven world. Upskilling is key if we have to thrive and progress. Being a volunteer helps me encourage women to pursue a career in data and technology, to help them walk shoulder to
shoulder with their male counterparts.
Looking forward, I have more goal posts to reach. Getting PhD degree is one of the goals that I plan to accomplish. And yes, having my own farm too. Teaching and guiding the next generation, in my own little way is on my to-do-list. Through She Loves Data I want help women to pursue a career in data and technology.