AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - Every student athletes journey sends them down their own unique path for Mia Castaneda her journey has been longer than most.
"My journey was definitely one to remember, I always joke with my mom and say you know mom i just took the long way." said Castaneda. "I had to come here for two years because my mom had cancer and I wanted to stay close to home. I definitely got to experience junior college but I wasn't excited about it at the beginning but I'm super excited I did it and wouldn't change it for the world."
For Mia, today was a sign of hope for her, small hometown of Hereford and those following in her footsteps.
"Just being able to come from a small town I have a lot of people who look up to me.", said Castaneda. "Them telling me they're so glad to see me go on and finally make it to where I said i was going. I feel like I just gave hope to the kids that I left back home."
"That's probably one of my proudest things about her is that shes a leader and such a great example," said Mia's mom, Dee Salinas."She loves God, she serves God, and she always just wanted kids to know there's opportunity and she can certainly prove it now that she's made the big league."
While Texas Tech women program is currently in the rebuilding phase, Clarendon's head coach Mark James doubts Mia will have any trouble with the transition.
"She had some really good schools on her but this was just a no brainer for her. She helped rebuild our program and I know she wasn't excited to have to do that again before it was Texas Tech.", said Coach James."She wanted to go to an established program and not have to come in and build from day one like she did here but she's going to fit in well and be happy she helped rebuild another program."
It was Tech's academics that helped Mia's parent feel even more secure with her new home for the next two years.
"The thing that caught me was the academic adviser, the way that Tech prepares them and organizes them gives them every tool possible to get their Bachelor's degree and beyond was amazing to me." said Salinas. "Coach Marlene has one hundred percent of kids graduate under her and that made me very comfortable, it's not just about basketball to her. It's definitely about more than that."
Texas Tech hired head coach Marlene Stollings last month from the University of Minnesota where she led the Gophers to a 82-47 record including a second round appearance in this year's NCAA tournament.