CAMP: Helping the overlooked

Kevin Hendricks

The College Assistance Migrant Program, CAMP, on Sacramento State’s campus is an outreach program that aims to target a group of individuals that are often overlooked: the children of migrant and seasonal farm workers.

Recently, CAMP was awarded funding by the U.S. Department of Education that will allow the program to run until 2019.

In a statement released on Sac State’s website regarding the funding, Rep. Doris Matsui who presides over the Sacramento district expressed her gratitude.

“For more than 30 years, CAMP has provided thousands of students with the skills and experience necessary for a successful college experience and a brighter future,” says Rep. Doris Matsui. “This funding will ensure that Sacramento State’s CAMP program can continue its mission helping students for years to come.”

For 38-year-old Viridiana Diaz who serves as CAMP’s program director, the funding provides the financial support that is needed to keep the program afloat.

In the same statement, Diaz said “being awarded level funding for the next five years is a momentous occasion, not only for the University but for the Sacramento region as a whole, for the region is positively impacted on a daily basis by working professionals who began their college education at Sacramento State through this program.”

As someone who took part in the program during the early 90s, Diaz knows firsthand just how beneficial the program the can be.

“Because of the constant mobility during children’s K-12 academic experience, they have not been able to form a strong network. They come into the university already academically disadvantaged,” said Diaz.

For Diaz, CAMP provides these children with a unique opportunity to gain access to resources and knowledge they otherwise may not have had.

“The primary focus of the program is to recruit the children of migrant and seasonal workers to attend a four year university,” said Diaz. “It’s quite a large program.”

With 300 continuing students this semester, it is clear that CAMP is skilled in proving the proper resources to its students.

One of the biggest attributes that seem to make CAMP so successful is their emphasis on creating a family-like atmosphere.

It is that atmosphere that prompted 18-year-old freshman Monica Cedeno to join.

Cedeno, who is a biological science major, cites the support system provided by CAMP as a huge driving force behind her decision to partake in the resources provided.

“It’s just a great program for those students who need the support,” Cedeno said. “It gives me academic counseling, it informs me about different programs, [and] we kind of become a big family.”

Diaz’s sentiments echo those of Cedeno’s, as Diaz emphasizes the importance of cultivating a close-knit community feel.

“It’s not only recruiting the students, it’s working with the family” Diaz said.

While CAMP has aided many students while they pursue higher education, Diaz contends that it can be a struggle convincing potential students and their families that higher education is a viable option.

Diaz acknowledges that for many families, due to circumstance, education is simply not a primary need and it must often take a backseat to more pressing matters, like providing the essentials such as food and shelter.

“A lot of these students have [never] been stable in the education experience. The interruption that takes place in their education is grave,” Diaz said.

However, despite the pressing circumstances, Diaz is adamant that the positives of college outweigh the negatives.

“We always try to tell families that ultimately, it will pay off. In the long-term, it is a great advantage,” Diaz said.

One of the biggest resources CAMP offers its students are workshops geared towards helping students adjust to a college settings.

For 18-year-old freshman Yazmin Cruz, the workshops help cultivate the necessary skills needed to succeed in college.

“CAMP is making us go to tutoring for at least five hours,” Cruz said “I tend to procrastinate, [so] I think it will help me do my homework. The more resources I have, the better.”

As CAMP enters into a new semester, it is preparing to welcome 70 incoming students into its program and is showing no signs of slowing down.

Looking towards the future, Diaz hopes to spread CAMP’s message and get even more people involved.

“[I] want to involve our alumni more directly in a mentoring role with students. We have a large group of successful grads who could share their story,” Diaz said.

For students like Cedeno, CAMP provides the perfect arena for students who are eager to learn and thrive.

Cedeno’s mantra is one that seems to truly encompass CAMP’s message, “If you really want something, go for it, no matter the challenges, because that’s life.”