Dancing with Our Community Star Competitor Rick Castaniero
Rick is an Educator in Santa Paula Unified School District.
S805 - How long have you been a part of The Future Leaders of America? Can you tell us about some of the fundraising events that FLA have?
Rick - My first involvement with Future Leaders of America was from my freshman year in high school until I graduated from U.C. Berkeley. I reconnected with FLA when I moved back to Ventura County about three years ago. This organization inspired me to change my life. I went from being a high-risk youth to someone who became focused on goal setting, going to college, and participating in leadership at school. Although my mother valued education, my father had a 3rd grade education. He just wanted me to become a hard worker and financially independent as soon as possible. FLA planted a seed inside me to dream bigger and take risks. First, I had to learn to share my goals with my father so I could participate in student government and sports instead of just working. I still had to work during weekends and vacations. But with the support of FLA, I eventually became ASB President at Hueneme High School, earned a B.A. from U.C. Berkeley and a M.F.A from UCLA Film School.
S805 - Any film projects that you are working on that you could us tell about?
Rick - Right now, I am writing a bio piece called Ramona Redemption about a youth who escapes the slaughterhouse of gang life. It is inspired by my recent work with youth.
After working at Santa Paula High School during the day, I volunteer about twenty hours a week for Future Leaders of America. We are currently preparing for our summer leadership camp where we train 100 youth from Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties in education, self-development and leadership. This summer is going to be amazing! We just confirmed Fillmore School District Superintendent Adrian Palazuelos, a FLA alumnus, to be our keynote speaker. He was a participant in FLA as a freshman in high school and has continued to be of service throughout his professional career.
S805 - You know what would be great, a documentary on the ups & downs of a DWOCS dance competitor? What do you think?
Rick - Yes! A documentary about an amateur facing the daunting challenge of dancing salsa in front of thousands of people would be great. It could open with the announcement of who is competing and then cut to the contestant learning the basic steps. I almost trip over my own feet sometimes. Then I go into public and hear, “Are you ready?” This inspires me to go practice.
We look forward to cheering Rick and the other contestants on Sunday July 27th at the Oxnard Salsa Festival .