Eighteen-year-old Alfonso Lucio remembers the sun beating down on the back of his neck as he toiled in asparagus fields in Michigan, something he began doing at age 12. His cousin Jazmine Hernandez, who is the same age and also came from a family of migrant farm workers, was often at his side.
“Just wait,” he would tell her. “A few more years of this, and then we’re going to college.”
It took the help of a decades-old federal program that focuses on migrant students, but he was right. Last month, as the cousins had lunch in a dining hall at St. Edward’s University in Austin, days before starting their freshman year, they beamed with pride even as they wiped away tears.
“I know my mom sacrificed so much for me, and she always said she didn’t have the support system I have,” Ms. Hernandez said. “I want to make her proud. I want her not to work as hard as she did her whole life.”
Mr. Lucio and Ms. Hernandez are among 42 freshmen entering St. Edward’s, a Roman Catholic university, this year through the federal College Assistance Migrant Program, or CAMP. This is the 40th anniversary of the program, which has served more than 2,700 migrant students at St. Edward’s.
Four colleges were part of the program when it was created in 1972 — two in Texas, one in Colorado and another in California — but St. Edward’s is the only university that has met the necessary benchmarks and successfully navigated the occasionally tricky terrain of the federal financing process to remain part of the program from the start.
According to the federal Office of Migrant Education, in 2011 more than $16.4 million went to the program, serving 1,925 students at 40 campuses nationwide. There are currently six in Texas. (Read more.)