Melba Castro

2023-24 Aspen Rising Presidents Fellow
Dr. Melba Castro is a higher education leader who is rooted in servant leadership, equity, and student success. Dr. Castro serves as the Vice President of Student Services at Santiago Canyon College and has dedicated her career to helping students access and complete their higher education goals. She has a special commitment to enhancing opportunities for students from first-generation, low-income, and diverse backgrounds.

Dr. Castro is a passionate higher education advocate who strives to create transformational opportunities for students. With over 20 years of experience working in all sectors of public higher education systems in California, Dr. Castro has worked to support student success throughout the higher education pipeline. Dr. Castro has served as the Dean of Student Success at Rio Hondo College overseeing various student services, including programs that work to onboard students and support their success to completion. She previously served as Director of Educational Partnerships at California State University, Fullerton where she oversaw seven federally funded programs aimed at supporting students in accessing higher education, completing, and preparing for doctoral programs. She also served as the Director of Academic Success Initiatives at the University of California, Riverside implementing academic support and enrichment programs.

Dr. Castro is the daughter of immigrant parents from Mexico, and a first-generation college graduate who was impacted by mentors and programs that inspired her to dream and helped her to transcend barriers. She graduated from UC Berkeley with a B.A. in Political Science, M.A in Education from Stanford University, and Ph.D. in Educational Policy Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is a mother of four beautiful and bold daughters. Her family, upbringing and experiences have provided her with the foundation roots engrained with a commitment of paying it forward by providing opportunities for students and families to actualize the American dream of education.