A Family Endeavor: Halle’ Castille Earns Degree for Herself, Her Parents & Her Children

Written byZachary Schleter

“I am very grateful for my advisor, Sharon Williams-Gregory. When I saw her at graduation, I had to stop myself from crying because if it weren’t for her, I probably would have quit.”

Halle Castille, wearing her graduation cap and gown, holds up her diploma for her Bachelor of General Studies degree from UL Lafayette.
Halle' Castille
Graduation Year
General Studies
Lafayette, La.

When Halle’ Castille earned her associate degree in 2019, she thought that would be the end of her time in school, at least for a little bit. 

She was 25, raising her children, and working to support them. 

But life had other plans; her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in early 2020, and the COVID-19 pandemic began shortly after. 

“After my mom was diagnosed, she told me she wanted to see me get my bachelor’s. My dad has always been big on education, too,” Castille says. “I was like, ‘OK, I guess I’m going back to school.’” 

“With the pandemic and my mom’s diagnosis and my dad’s encouragement, that was my push. I wanted my mom to be there to say her child had graduated from a university.” 

With previous work experience as a CNA, Castille wanted a program that would allow her to take courses that fit her interest in healthcare while also applying the credits she earned through her associate degree program. After speaking with an enrollment specialist at the University, she knew that the Bachelor of General Studies online program was the option for her. 

In December 2023, Castille finished the program, with multiple generations of her family in the audience cheering for her as she walked across the stage. 

A Family Endeavor 

Halle Castille and her three young children, all dressed in matching sparkly teal outfits, pose for a photo in front of the Hilliard Art Museum on UL Lafayette's campus.

Just as Castille’s parents pushed her to continue her studies, Castille used her time in school to push her young children in theirs – and many times, vice versa. 

Her two oldest children, 4 and 7, got off the school bus every afternoon eager to ask her if she had any homework to do. They’d sit around the table, working on their assignments for school together as a family.  

“They were more excited than me to do homework,” Castille says. “That is one thing I did not expect to hear my children say. They were always the ones to be like, ‘Mom, I have homework today! Do you have homework? Let’s go home so we can do our homework together!’” 

And even when her children weren’t occupied with their own homework, they kept Castille company while she did hers. 

“There were some nights I would read my chapters to my kids,” she says. “They’d say, ‘Mama, we want to read a book,’ so I’d read whatever book I was reading for school aloud to them.” 

And, of course, Castille’s children were there at commencement, eager to celebrate her accomplishment. As she walked off the stage with her diploma and headed toward her seat, her two oldest children rushed out to take a picture and hug her. 

Halle Castille, holding her diploma after walking off the graduation stage, hugs her son, age 7, while her daughter, age 4, takes a photo.

“I was so excited to see their smiling faces!” she says. “It felt like a huge accomplishment for not just myself but for us. WE did it!” 

Finding Community Online 

Support and encouragement from family wasn’t the only thing pushing Castille through her degree program. Within the program, she found peers and an advisor who consistently showed up for her. 

“On day one of classes, you’re usually getting a message or email from a classmate with a link to a GroupMe for the class,” she says. “When you’re confused on an assignment, chances are, everyone else in the class is confused with you talking about it in the group chat. Somebody will reach out to ask the professor and everybody will get the answer through them. You’re never doing it alone.” 

In Fall 2022, Castille gave birth to her third child. Before the semester began, she decided she was going to sit the semester out. 

“Miss Sharon Williams-Gregory, my advisor, called me and said, ‘Girl, where is your schedule? Where are your classes? You can do this. There’s nothing that can stop you. You just have to say you can,’” she recalls. 

“I am very grateful for her. When I saw her at graduation, I had to stop myself from crying because if it weren’t for her, I probably would have quit.” 

The Next Career Steps 

For the time being, Castille is finished with school. She loves her job and plans to stay in her current role on the records team for a local law firm, applying what she learned in her coursework. 

“I took two criminal justice classes, which have helped me a lot,” she says. “We talked about cybercrimes, like cyberbullying and phishing. Being able to identify junk mail and scams is so important because I work with sensitive, private information every day.” 

“I also find being an online student helped me enhance my time management skills. I work on a computer all day in a hybrid role. Without learning how to stay focused and remove distractions to complete assignments, I would not have been prepared to be successful at my job.” 

In the meantime, she’s also brainstorming ways she can give back to her community.  

“I would really love to run my own nonprofit organization,” she says. “I grew up in church youth groups doing volunteer work, but I don’t really see those groups anymore. Luckily, at my job, we do a lot of different back-to-school drives and food drives and fundraisers. I’m happy I can see some of these organizations and learn from them while I decide where I want my own to go.” 

Use your existing college credits to earn your Bachelor of General Studies online from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. 

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