In early June – right in the middle of Q4 – I got one of the most earth shattering phone calls that a person could receive…my mother had passed away.

In a moment that is a complete blur, I had no words. There was no plan for this. I had no idea what to do. I just remember falling to the floor and sobbing uncontrollably.

It was one of the worst moments of my life, yet…it also reassured me that I was exactly where I was supposed to be in my life. Being a part of Cisco and the Global Virtual Sales (GVS) team played a huge role in this.

“Family” should be a relatively simple word, a word some may even take for granted.  For me, I can’t say I have ever truly understood the concept. My whole life my mother was an addict, and I don’t think she knew how to care for anything else but that.

This means that I grew up in trailers with the floors falling out, or even sometimes cars. I was orphaned at 13, put into the foster system, and then sent to a group home. But that didn’t last forever. When I was almost 16 the state decided to give me back to my mom, at which point she kicked me out, and I was on my own again.


I have fought my whole life to have what people would call a family, but always stayed nipping at the heels of it. This “Family” concept always eluded me. Yet, still. Nothing can ever prepare you for the phone call that has Death on the other line.

I felt helpless. I knew this day would come. I just didn’t realize how soon it would come.

It dawned on me, in light of this phone call from Death that I needed to call family. That’s what you do when you receive this kind of news. But what was family to me?

I dialed a number and Heather Herring answered, my team lead. The second call was to my manager Francisco Cortes. Notice a theme here? 😉

The GVS team at Cisco had become the family I have been searching for so desperately. They surrounded me with love and warmth, and I knew I could seek comfort in their words and arms at any time. They came together to support me through every moment of my mother’s death. They saw me at my worst, and they made sure to lift me up higher than I ever had been before.

My whole life I was told I would amount to nothing, but it turns out – that’s not anywhere close to the truth.

Even though the past couple of months have been some of the hardest I’ve ever experienced, I’ve been able to realize all the love that surrounds me here at Cisco, and this helps me to persevere.

I feel my purpose in life is just beginning.  It has been a long road to getting here, but it was worth the wait. Now, I get to focus on things that I am passionate about and truly want to explore more in depth. I no longer need to focus on things I was forced into, but see a totally new light that leads me forward.

I don’t know that I could’ve done this without my Cisco Family. There are so many people here who really care, and who want you to become the best version of whoever you decide to be. It’s an empowering feeling, and one I am glad to have found and be a part of.


Want to join the Cisco Family? We’re hiring! Apply Now.


Monica Castillo

Virtual Account Manager

Global Virtual Sales - US SLED East