The College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) at The University of Texas-Pan American awarded 70 freshman scholarships Friday, April 26 during its year-end banquet to increase the students' chances for success through their first year of college and motivate them to graduate.
Guest speaker Congressman Rubén Hinojosa said the program succeeds because of its continued growth, and students are confident about pursuing their education. "So many universities have statistics that 2 out of every 3 freshmen drop out," Hinojosa said. "This is an exemplary program where about 99 percent made it through their freshman year and decided to go forward with their education. The percentages here are so high that I wanted to come show them how much I appreciate their sticking to the program and continuing their education."
Aside from all the benefits the program offers, Marilyn Hagerty, CAMP associate director, is excited about how retention numbers are improving along with the educational aspirations of Rio Grande Valley migrant students. More families are becoming familiar with CAMP and staying in school, unlike their parents, aunts and uncles.
"It's been estimated that about 10 percent of entering freshman here at UTPA come from migrant families," Hagerty said, "and yet if you look at the statistics, you'll also see that migrant students have a very low retention rate. So, especially here at UTPA, where so many students throughout the Valley come from seasonal and migrant families, it's important to have programs like CAMP to support them through their first year."
Indeed, Hagerty said families are now more interested in CAMP than ever before, which translates into higher retention rates.
"Most of these students are first generation college students while their parents only attended elementary schools," she said. "For them to be successful means educating a whole family. We're starting to see cousins, brothers and sisters of the first group three years ago come through the program."
Incoming freshman Aaron Garza, a kinesiology major from Roma, said what he enjoys most about CAMP is the benefits. In fact, he has highly recommended the program to his friends.
"I've already talked about the program with a lot of other migrant students I know," Garza said. "The program especially encourages you to stay in school because the freshman year is usually the one where you either make it or break it. How well you do may determine whether you want to come back another semester or year."
La Joya High School graduate Maria Chavez is a physician's assistant major who had the rare opportunity of introducing Hinojosa.
"CAMP has been a really strong supporter for all of us," Chavez said. "They are like a family outside of home. Counselors help with our personal concerns, and program coordinators assist with questions concerning our academics. CAMP also provides a lot of cultural events that help us grow not just spiritually but also culturally."
Applicants are required to have obtained a GED or graduated high school and cannot have earned more than 15 hours of college credit.
For more information or to apply, contact Hagerty at 956/318-5333.