In a black-and-white world, there are two types of schools—those where students come from a privileged background where education is valued and encouraged, and those where students never even consider moving on after high school. It’s not a failing of that second type of school that causes the not-moving-on attitude; it’s often a symptom of students’ backgrounds.
If no one in a student’s family ever graduated from high school, it’s likely that they’ve never fully understood the value of a good education. For migrant and seasonal workers, education often takes the back seat to survival and family support. And to many youth that live in a community where seasonal work is the norm and education is not, going to college might seem like nothing more than an impossible dream.
Seem is the key word there. Just because students perceive college as something out of reach, that doesn’t mean it has to be that way. But those students need someone to reach out to them, offering new possibilities and support that can enable them to pursue a better future.
Happily, for those families and students, there’s good news: a program called CAMP (College Assistance Migrant Program) reaches out to students of migrant or seasonal worker backgrounds to provide financial and academic assistance. CAMP is funded by the U.S. Department of Education and helps many students become the first in their families to graduate from college.
Jesse Martinez, who is the Assistant Director of CAMP at the University of Idaho, was one student who graduated thanks to CAMP. “The youngest of five siblings… first one to go to college. My parents didn’t have any education,” he says. “So, first hand, I lived it. So, for me to actually be doing this for a living, I love it.”
The program at U of I has served over 500 students since it began in 1999. And hopefully, it will continue well into the future, bringing educational opportunity and hope to even more students across the country.