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Raul H. Castro Scholarship in Southwest Studies

Born in Cananea, Mexico, on June 12, 1916, Castro lived in his native land until 1918, when he moved to Arizona and later became an American citizen. Through physical labor, he saved enough to enter Arizona State Teachers College in Flagstaff, where he graduated in 1939. He worked for the U.S. State Department as a foreign service clerk at Agua Prieta, Mexico, for five years, but never forgot his dream of becoming a lawyer.

Accepted by the University of Arizona Law College, Castro earned his Juris Doctor degree and was admitted to the state bar in 1949. After practicing law in Tucson for two years, he became a deputy Pima County attorney. In 1954, he was elected county attorney and served until 1958, when he became a Pima County Superior Court Judge.

Impact

His national stature grew over the years, and in 1964 President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed Castro as U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador. Four years later he served as Ambassador to Bolivia. He returned to Tucson in 1969 to specialize in international law.

Castro continued his rise to the top in Arizona. He first ran for governor in 1970 on the Democratic ticket, advocating for the environment and bilingual education. He lost to Jack Williams in one of Arizona’s closest elections. In 1974, Castro ran again for governor, this time winning the election to become Arizona’s first, and only, Mexican-American governor. He served as governor for two years, but ended his term early when he was appointed by President Jimmy Carter to serve as Ambassador to Argentina. He served as Ambassador to Argentina until 1980.

Following his career in public service, Castro returned to Arizona to practice international law. He and his wife Patricia have two daughters, Beth Castro and Mary Pat James. Castro and his wife currently reside in San Diego, Calif., where they recently moved following several years living in Nogales, Ariz.