September 2018 Student Spotlight – Jose Castillo

Full Name: Jose Alejandro Castillo.

What is your hometown? Lima, Peru.

What is your favorite thing about your hometown? Definitely the food.

What is your major? Master’s in Public Diplomacy.

What is your expected graduation date? May 2019.

Why did you choose to attend Annenberg?

I chose Annenberg because the school offers a graduate degree in the field Public Diplomacy, which combines my passion for culture, digital media and public service.

Tell us about a great experience or opportunity you’ve had here at Annenberg.

I’ve had the opportunity to network with people in the field of cultural diplomacy and human rights advocacy. Last year I got to attend the Human Rights Watch’s Voices for Justice Dinner event, and currently, I am working at the USC Center on Public Diplomacy where I have the opportunity to correspond with scholars and practitioners of public diplomacy around the world.

What makes Annenberg special?

I think its forward-thinking approach to media and communication. Students are offered audiovisual and graphic design tools coupled with workshops at no extra cost, which help us develop valuable skills in the market of digital media. Applied to the field of public diplomacy, a mastery of video editing and design can really help shape narratives in the international arena.

Tell us about an experience you’ve had outside of class (an internship, research project, publication, start-up, etc.).

USC’s Center on Public Diplomacy discussion events are a must for anyone interested in international affairs and diplomacy. They are a great opportunity to learn about public diplomacy initiatives taking place at the city, national and international level, as well as meet key players behind the scenes.

How does your program fit into your life’s plan?

I am currently undergoing a career transition from the music industry to the field of public diplomacy. It might sound like two very different fields to an outsider, but they are much more connected than you would expect. My interest in cultural diplomacy fits perfectly with my passion for travel and sound exploration.

I am interested in the intersection between music (and audiovisual art in general) and cultural identity. Music predates language as a form of communication, and my experience has taught me that music can create a platform for a horizontal exchange of emotions and ideas. On top of that, both fields are starting to adapt to newer and more interconnected digital technologies — I aim to be an advocate of these tools of empowerment. 

What’s your plan for after graduation?

I have several options that I’m contemplating. One is to join the U.S. Foreign Service as a Public Diplomat. I’ve already started taking the test. There is also the option of working for the non-profit and NGO sector, hopefully focusing in cultural diplomacy, digital media and human rights advocacy. The long-term goal is to start my own international non-profit, empowering at-risk youth around the world through music, video and other digital tools.