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Migrant Students’ Lives Shine Light on National Farmworkers Awareness Week
BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – MARCH 22, 2013 – Fabiola Torres and Dario Gonzalez, students at The University of Texas at Brownville and Texas Southmost College, will join in the celebration of National Farmworkers Awareness Week being observed from Sunday, March 24 through Sunday, March 31.
The College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) has organized two campus events during National Farmworkers Awareness Week. CAMP students and former participants, including Torres and Gonzalez, will assist at the events.
CAMP initiatives throughout the nation will participate in the National Cesar E. Chavez Blood Drive Challenge and encourage the public to donate blood while remembering the birthday of Cesar Chavez, the crusader for farmworkers’ rights.
Both from migrant families, Torres and Gonzalez said they are eager to meet someone who has played a pivotal role in bettering working conditions for farm workers.
College Assistance Migrant Program
CAMP is designed to meet the needs of students who were migrant workers or are children of migrant workers. Participation includes mandatory activities such as academic advising, peer tutoring, monthly academic meetings and enrichment workshops.
“Most of the CAMP staff members are former migrant students and CAMP participants who have overcome academic and personal challenges,” said CAMP Director Noel Rodriguez said. “We want to share our methods of success and achievement with incoming freshmen who have had similar experiences.”
Torres, who graduated from Brownsville’s Hanna High School in 2011, is a sophomore majoring in special education.
“When I was little, we would go up to Willard, Ohio, with my dad where the main crops were green onions and radishes,” Torres said. “Then when I was in second grade, we began staying in Brownsville while my dad would go to Ulysses, Kansas, where the crops were corn and grains. We would finish out the school year before driving up to spend the summers with my dad, and we all stayed at the home of my aunt and uncle, who lived in Kansas full-time.”
Torres is a peer mentor in the A.S.P.I.R.E. program (A Support Program in Reaching Excellence).
“We work with freshmen and some sophomores, helping them navigate their early years of college,” Torres said. “We emphasize they are not in high school any more, and we help them get the hang of college, guiding them in a number of ways – setting priorities, determining their learning styles, working on time management and making sure they have the information on any workshops that they might benefit from.”
Dario Gonzalez graduated from San Benito High School in 2011 and is a sophomore majoring in criminal justice; his focus is police administration, and he hopes to become a Texas State Trooper.
“When I was young, my dad would go to Fremont, Ohio, but the family would stay in the Valley,” Gonzalez said. “Then when I was about 13, we started all going together to help out; my parents timed it so we wouldn’t miss any school.”
Gonzalez remembers the crops being cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, chile peppers, blueberries and blackberries. He also said his family was fortunate to live in a fairly good migrant house, but they knew workers on other farms who lived in relatively poor conditions.
“When I was a senior in high school, my dad got a good job here in the Valley, and now we have our own home here,” Gonzalez said.
Both Torres and Gonzalez are keenly aware of the important role farmworkers play in the country and they take pride in their roots. They are also thankful to have received their parents’ encouragement to continue their educations after high school.
For more information, contact Noel Rodriguez at 956-882-7872 or or visit the CAMP website.
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