Program helps cultivate education for children of migrant farm workers

Greg Kane

The children of migrant farm workers?many of whom are first-generation college students in their families?can get help easing the transition to university life in a program offered at Sacramento State.

The College Assistant Migrant Program provides support for first-year students from these families by offering counseling, tutoring, financial support and creating an on-campus family to help each other, said Artemio Pimentel, executive vice president of Associated Students, Inc. and ASI presidential candidate.

Since many of the students involved in CAMP will be the first in their families to attend college, a program like this is essential to make the adjustment to life at Sac State, said Marcos Sanchez, CAMP director.

“They haven?t been exposed to higher education,” Sanchez said. “They don?t know what to expect.”

Pimentel, who was a CAMP member his first year at Sac State, said the program made his transition to college much easier after he realized there were other students coming from similar situations whom he could draw support from. He said the program helps to alleviate the feeling of being alone.

“This program gets rid of that fear,” Pimentel said, “Because once you get on campus, you have this family of about 85 students.”

CAMP is a federally funded program, and ASI also supports it through grants, Pimentel said. After getting a budget increase to $18,000 this year, the program is funding 85 students this semester, although it also provides services for many more “adopted” students who were not able to officially get in.

“There?s room for a lot more than 85, but the funding can only provide for [that many],” Pimentel said. “They will take as many students as they can to use their resources.”Aside from counseling and tutoring services, CAMP also provides social and academic activities, as well as group meetings where students can get together and discuss their experiences with each other, Sanchez said. Due to the large number of students in the program, Sanchez breaks them into smaller groups so everybody can be heard.”When you have so many [students] in the group, you can?t always get to everyone,” Sanchez said. “We put them in support groups.”

Alma Martinez was a student at Orestimba High School in Newman, Calif. when CAMP representatives came to visit as part of its outreach program. Now a member, she said she was more encouraged to attend Sac State knowing there would be people to help her here.”They said they would be there for us in the first year of college,” Martinez said.

Martinez receives monthly financial support as well as tutoring and counseling at the CAMP center, but she said the most important aspect of the program is the friendship she has with other students.

“It?s like a family for some of us that moved away from home,” Martinez said. “This is a place where you feel you belong.”

The program also recognizes the parents of these students, Sanchez said. Every semester there is a night when parents are invited to the campus to see what their children are doing, which usually gets a 100 percent turnout, and counselors and advisers are always available to speak with them about any concerns they have.

“Everything is designed to show the parents what the experience at Sac State is like, so they can be more supportive,” Sanchez said.

After being located in a temporary building for 13 years, the CAMP offices were finally relocated to a new facility in the dining area on campus, Sanchez said. Steps like that show that the program is making a lot of progress, he said.

“Because of that [relocation], we have a little more credibility,” Sanchez said. “We?ll be able to do more things.”

Pimentel said he hopes CAMP will be able to get even more funding in the future so that more students like himself can be helped by it.

“I really wish ASI could fully fund this program, because ASI believes in education, and this program makes students reach for the education they need,” Pimentel said.