By Steven Barker
California State University, Bakersfield’s College Assistance Migrant Program has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Migrant Education as one of the 10 highest performing programs during the 2011-2012 school year. This marks the third in CAMP’s 13-year history in which the program has received such recognition.
Of the 80 students admitted into CAMP in 2011, 99 percent completed their first academic year of college, while 98 percent of those students continued their studies in college, whether at CSUB or another university. Both accomplishments exceeded the program’s target of 86 percent in both categories.
Since receiving a federal grant in 2000, CAMP has worked with migrant-identified students in completing their first year of college. In order to qualify for CAMP, students must meet a range of requirements, including having a parent that has worked as a seasonal farmworker for 75 days or more and receiving a certificate of eligibility from a local Regional Migrant Education Office.
However, despite the program’s successes, CAMP still faces a possible discontinuation. Dr. Maria Escobedo, CAMP’s program director at CSUB, suggested that, because CAMP is in the final year of its $425,000 federal grant and that the program competes with others nationwide, the program could be denied a renewal of its funding.
“It would be a great loss for CSUB if they lost the CAMP program,” said Melissa Larios, a sophomore theater and psychology major. “This program is essential for first-time students. CAMP is not only a place where a student can learn how to adjust to a whole new form of education, but it is also a place where the student can feel at home. The advisors make you their priority and help you through the transition step by step.”
Nanse Mendoza, a CSUB alumna and former CAMP student, agreed, adding, “Without CAMP, I fear that many students might not have a vital support system that is needed as first-generation college students.
Part of the program’s success lies in the academic support and services provided for its students, according to the program’s director.
“We start out with an early intervention with the summer program, hitting remediation needs in the subjects of math and English,” Escobedo said. “Our 80 students are enrolled in a course in the fall which is taught by us, so there’s a lot of one-on-one. Each quarter, we also have the academic progress report, which we use to track our students, how they’re doing, and that gives us the idea ‘Hey, you should be going to tutoring.’”
CAMP also provides students with job preparation.
“In the winter, we have a required course, the career development course,” Escobedo added. “We prepare students for job interviews. We take them anywhere from résumés to email etiquette and cover letters to the culminating project – the actual interview with community members.”
For some students, however, CAMP’s services extend beyond the preparations for class and exams. Since a majority of CAMP’s students come from similar backgrounds and have similar stories, the ability for some to connect with others of similar struggles and stories has proved invaluable.
“Living with the 2009-2010 CAMP cohort for one month, I was able to develop a strong camaraderie with this group of people,” said Mendoza. “I made life-long friendships that I truly value and I definitely became more comfortable with the idea of starting college knowing that I would recognize some friendly faces amidst the sea of students.”
“This whole experience was amazing and I hope more students are fortunate enough to be in the CAMP program,” Larios said.