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UTPA students take part in César Chávez Day Celebration
Posted: 03/31/2003
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More than 200 Rio Grande Valley migrant and farm worker students, families, officials and Kerry Kennedy Cuomo - the daughter of Robert F. Kennedy - marched down University Drive early Saturday morning, March 29, and chanted "Si Se Puede" - "Yes You Can" to observe and celebrate César Chávez Day.

Members of the UTPA Association of Migrant Students took part in the César Chávez March that started at the Hidlgo County Courthouse and ended at Edinburg Baseball Stadium Saturday, March 29.
"Humanitarianism, civil rights and respect for each other is why we are here today," said Edinburg Mayor Joe Ochoa, who also marched for "La Causa" - "The Cause."

Kennedy Cuomo - an international human rights activist - who was also a guest speaker at the César Chávez Day Celebration, led the march.

She shared her stories about Chávez being a part of her family's life. She talked about her father visiting Chávez during his days of fasting and she also mentioned how her family boycotted grapes and lettuce just as Chávez did. She said through her father she learned of the obstacles Chávez was up against.

"The struggles César embodied are very much with us today," she said. "Farm workers are still among the poorest of the poor and the least educated in our country."

Kerry Kennedy Cuomo - daughter of the late Robert f. Kennedy - speaks to more than 200 people during the César Chávez Day Celebration at Edinburg Baseball Stadium Saturday, March 29.
Also joining the march were more than 40 students from The University of Texas-Pan American Association of Migrant Students (AMS). The César Chávez March began at the Hidalgo County Courthouse and ended at Edinburg Baseball Stadium with a celebration filled with guest speakers, food and music.

"I felt really proud and excited of the fact that I am one of many migrant students out here," said Veronica Zamora, UTPA freshman and AMS member . "I feel really happy that everyone is coming together and helping make the public aware of who we are."

Zamora was also a speaker at the César Chávez Day Celebration where she shared her experiences as a migrant student, starting from the age of nine. She recalled people making her feel unwanted and telling her to go back to Mexico.

"I used to tell those people my country is the United States," Zamora said.

Zamora also talked about the early morning wake-up calls to work in the fields and she remembers starting the school year two or three weeks late and having to make up work.

"Many times I wanted to give up and I almost did," Zamora said. "If it wasn't for my mom and dad always pushing me to finish school, I would not have made it. Now they are the ones pushing me to get a higher education."

Above, Veronica Zamora, UTPA freshman and member of the UTPA Association of Migrant Students addressed the crowd about her experiences and hardships as a migrant student during the celebration.
According to Ed De La Garza, UTPA institutional research analyst, more than 22 percent of entering freshman at The University of Texas-Pan American came from migrant and farm worker families in fall 2002.

"Of the 1,999 entering freshman in the fall, 440 students came from migrant and farm worker families," De La Garza said.

Other participants included: State Representative Aaron Peña, Edinburg; Region One Education Service Center representatives; and Edinburg, La Joya, Mission, McAllen, Hidalgo school districts; and others.

The celebration kicked- off one of many activities held during National Farm Worker Awareness Week at UTPA (March 28-April 4). For more information on the week's activities, call 956/318-5333.

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