Friday, April 12, 2019 - 11:15am
Dobbs Ferry Campus
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About 100 Mercy College students and staff gathered in the Rotunda on Monday, April 8, 2019, to listen to an interview with Bernadette Castro, Chairman of Castro Properties. The 45-minute discussion with School of Business Assistant Professor Victoria Roberts-Drogin was followed by a 15-minute question-and-answer session. Mercy students asked Castro a variety of questions regarding her background and her beliefs on several topics regarding business.

Castro’s conversation, “It’s OK to Change Your Dream,” was part of the Spring 2019 Mercy College Student Success Series. She explained her roles in her family’s businesses, Castro Convertibles and Castro Properties; recalled how she was influenced by her parents, Bernard and Theresa; and remarked on some of the challenges facing those entering the business world today.

Castro began with recounting how her Italian immigrant father, Bernard, transitioned from being a bank teller to working with furniture. There, he sensed the needs of his customers and created a convertible sofa.

“It’s never too late to change your dream. You think you’re going to want to do one thing and that’s going to change. And that’s fine,” Castro assured the students. “It may change for a bunch of reasons, but you don’t have to know what you’re going to do right now at Mercy College. That’s almost silly. You think you have a goal and you have a dream and that’s great. But you shouldn’t be tough on yourself, if for whatever reason that changes.”

Castro then focused on how her career path changed, from attempting a future in the recording industry to focusing on secondary school administration to joining the family business, Castro Convertibles, to entering the political arena by making a bid for United States Senate, taking 42 percent of the vote, and then taking a role in the cabinet of New York Governor George Pataki.

Among her regrets: “I didn’t take enough math classes or finance classes,” she said.

“That was the challenge. The finance end was always the challenge,” Castro explained. “If you take one piece of advice with you out of this room, take that. The finance courses may not be the easy ones. They may not be the easy A’s or B’s, but they’re really going to carry you.”

Daniel Bedenbaugh ’22, a first-year student majoring in marketing, attended Castro’s discussion. He said that her points affirmed notions he had about his future career goals. Bedenbaugh plans to enter the business field and wants to be involved with innovative technology.

“What I was able to take away were a lot of key attributes,” Bedenbaugh said. “I would say persistence, be ethical in what you do, develop a new common culture. When it comes down to success, don’t strive to be narrow-minded. Have a holistic viewpoint and mindset, to where your [spouse], your family, your health, everything in your well-being are taken care of.”

Castro emphasized that loving what you do and having a passion for it are important. She read an essay from the late Steve Jobs titled “The World’s Six Best Doctors,” in which Jobs states that the best doctors are sunlight, rest, exercise, diet, self-confidence and friends. He also said one should teach one’s children to not to be rich, but to be happy.

“I think there’s a lot of wisdom there,” Castro noted, “and I hope that when you leave here today – that you don’t have to remember anything I say but that if you remember the Steve Jobs essay, I think that I was a success coming here today.

“Let’s take a deep breath and remember there are more important things than money.”

Highlights of Castro's discussion with Mercy College students can be seen here.