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Atlantic Cape’s New Worthington Campus Director Brings Love of Community and People to Her Position

12/20/2022 | Media Contact: David Zuba | (609) 343-4933
Atlantic City's Charles D. Worthington campus

MAYS LANDING — Raised in Atlantic City since the age of five. A 2002 graduate of Atlantic City High School. A 2009 alumna of Atlantic Cape Community College. An educator, advocate and nonprofit champion. A mother, wife and resident of Atlantic City too. For Lizbeth Castro-James, community is not just another word, it is a passion.

And it was that uncompromising dedication, along with years of personal, educational and professional experience, to her hometown and county that led Castro-James to her new position as Atlantic Cape’s Director of the Charles D. Worthington Atlantic City campus on December 5.

"We are very excited and fortunate to welcome Lizbeth Castro-James, an Atlantic Cape alumna, to the Atlantic Cape family as she brings a wealth of professional and personal experience to this position," President Dr. Barbara Gaba said. "Her knowledge of the greater Atlantic City region is valuable in telling the Atlantic Cape story on a personal level as she outreaches across Atlantic County to our residents."

Lizbeth Castro-James headshotBorn in Ecuador, Castro-James is a first-generation student to have graduated college in her family. Finding it necessary to mature at a very young age, Castro-James would often be thrust into the role of translator wherever her family went as both of her parents had a very limited knowledge of the English language. She spent many hours and days at the Spanish Community Center, which played a vital role in fostering her love for the community.

Along with earning her Associate’s degree in Psychology from Atlantic Cape in 2009, Castro-James earned her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a minor in Forensics and Criminal Justice from Stockton University in 2012. Upon graduating from Atlantic City High School in 2002, she was reluctant to attend college, content with working instead.

“My mom practically had to drag me to Atlantic Cape after high school because I did not want to go to college,” Castro-James recalled. “I just wanted to keep working, but she told me if I didn’t go to college now I would never go back.”

Becoming a single mother at 20 convinced her to change her mind. “I decided I needed to be serious about my education and go back to school because I wanted to be in a career before my daughter got older. I didn’t want school to take away from time that should be spent focusing on her.”

Her experience at Atlantic Cape set into motion a career identified by selfless service to the community and to others. “Without Atlantic Cape I wouldn’t be where I am now. There was so much support from the counselors and it was a really good support system for me,” Castro-James said.

In 2009, Castro-James, then 24, started a local nonprofit, then another at 26, that focused on youth advocacy in Atlantic City. Her goal was to teach the local youth leadership skills by allowing them to follow community movers-and-shakers, like the mayor or a company CEO, to open the eyes of the city’s youth to new things in life.

Castro-James spent the past 10 years employed by the Atlantic City Board of Education. The last six of those were spent as the District Community Parental Involvement Specialist for the preschool program. The four years prior she was a Title I ESL teacher where she taught English to students from many different cultural backgrounds.

When the opportunity to return to her alma mater, Atlantic Cape, arose this past October, Castro-James’ strong faith led her to believe that her next career choice was all part of a higher calling.

“A friend of mine told me that the job was available. I looked at it, I read the qualifications and I knew this is me,” Castro-James said. “I said to myself if this isn’t a higher power telling me that my calling is to share my gift with young adults and families.”

Castro-James is a living embodiment that hard work, determination, perseverance and education can make a positive difference in one’s life and in the lives of many others. She is humbled by being in a position now to convey this message of hope and opportunity to families throughout the county.

“It is very exciting for me to have the opportunity to speak to the parents, to tell them their child can get into Atlantic Cape because look where I started from and look where I am now,” Castro-James said. “If I can excite families that have come from different parts of the world, who don’t know if they can make it, and if I can be used as an example, why not?”

The Worthington campus, located at 1535 Bacharach Boulevard in the heart of downtown Atlantic City, is a 20,000-square-foot facility that is home to specialized programs, such as the Casino Career Institute (CCI), Health Professions Institute (HPI), Institute for Service Excellence (ISE), English as a Second Language (ESL) and features two Academy of Culinary Arts teaching kitchens and a hydroponic greenhouse. The campus’ 1,700-square-foot Wind Training Center will open in 2023. Castro-James envisions utilizing her years of community outreach experience to personally speak to the culturally-diverse communities throughout the greater Atlantic City region about all of the programs that Atlantic Cape has to offer.

“I want to see so many more of our youth from the Atlantic City region attending our campus, especially if they do not know what they want to do after high school,” Castro-James said. “It’s important to continue to grow our community relationships through outreach, events, campus tours and athletics to get students into school and to stay in school.”

Understanding that plenty of hard work lies ahead, Castro-James is determined to remain modest in her new position for she knows that her history and background make it mean so much more.

Visit atlantic.edu/worthingtonac for more information on our Worthington Atlantic City campus.

 

 

About Atlantic Cape Community College

Atlantic Cape is a comprehensive two-year community college serving the residents of Atlantic and Cape May counties. The college offers over 40 career, transfer and workforce development programs to more than 8,000 students annually at three campuses in New Jersey: Atlantic City, Cape May Court House and Mays Landing.