By Steve Nakata, Administrative Services
PULLMAN, Wash. – The U.S. Department of Education granted Washington State University’s College Assistance Migrant Program more than $2.1-million to continue its services for another five years.
The College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) helps students from migrant and seasonal farmworker backgrounds to successfully transition and complete their first academic year of college. It provides outreach and recruitment, academic support, personal and career counseling, academic advising, financial aid and follow-up services to 50 students each year.
News of the grant renewal arrived much later than expected and caused anxiety among CAMP staff.
“After the feeling of just pure relief, what came to me next was excitement for the staff and students that we get to continue this important work,” said Lucila Loera, assistant vice president for the Office for Access, Equity and Achievement. “I feel extremely proud.”
According to statistics compiled by the Washington State Migrant Education Program, Washington ranks third in the nation for its number of migrant and seasonal farmworkers, employing an average of 160,000 workers annually. It is estimated that 44 percent of the 4,745 migrant students, grades 10-12, are not “on course” to graduate from high school.
From the orchards to law school
CAMP reaches out to students in 36 school districts across the state, making contact with more than 5,000 high school students and 1,200 parents.
Francisco Carriedo was one of the students contacted by a CAMP recruiter in 2010. A few weeks ago the WSU graduate stood before his peers as the elected student speaker during the University of Washington’s Law School Graduation Ceremony. The audience laughed loudly when he shared that his high school classmates elected him as the teachers’ worst nightmare.
With a big grin he looked over from the podium to his fellow classmates and shared a secret from when he first arrived at the law school.
“To be honest, when we first started this journey I struggled to find my place,” Carriedo exclaimed. “I didn’t look like you all, I did not speak like you all. Very often I felt like I didn’t belong.
Carriedo had similar feelings when he enrolled at WSU as a freshman. He credits the CAMP program for providing him essential support and a community where he could thrive. He has no doubt that without CAMP, he wouldn’t be where he is today.
“It’s such an important program,” he said. “Being a first generation student from a farm worker background, it offered me a support system that I really needed to succeed.”
Carriedo is currently studying for the state bar exam and has secured a clerk position with Judge Stanley Bastian in Yakima’s United States District Court.
Expemplary program, students
The WSU CAMP program has consistently exceeded its goals. During the last academic year, 100 percent of the program’s 50 participants completed their first year at WSU and 98 percent enrolled in classes for the for fall semester.
Loera said WSU CAMP is viewed as a model program across the nation and many of its students have been selected for prestigious internships in Washington, D.C., or to speak at regional and national events.
Nearly 550 students have been helped by the WSU CAMP program since it began in 2006.
“I’m excited to see what the next five years brings,” said Loera.
- Lucila Loera, Assistant Vice President, Office for Access, Equity & Achievement, 509-335-7944, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Steve Nakata, Public Relations Communications Coordinator, Administrative Services, 509-335-1774, email@example.com.