TSTC Programs Facilitate Higher Education for Migrant Students
Sunday, February 24, 2013
Their purpose is simple for three programs at Texas State Technical College.
“Our focus is that no migrant be left behind,” said College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) director Cindy Mata.
Mata’s CAMP office works closely with two other migrant programs through the College Readiness and Advancement division at TSTC to help migrant students meet the requirements they need to finish their high school and college educations.
CAMP has been around for three years and is available to first-year, full-time freshmen. CAMP provides mentors and helps facilitate the freshman’s transition into college. CAMP students also receive a small stipend in order to help with school-related expenses.
“We’re their backbone and the support they need to get through their first year of college,” Mata said. “We give them the push and motivation they need. We provide some housing and provide them with a small stipend to make ends meet. We make sure they’re more equipped when they join the workforce. Most of them want to break the cycle of being migrant workers and we’re here to help.”
Another program started up last year that gets to the migrant students before they even step foot on the TSTC campus.
The Migrant Academic Achievement Residential Summer Program (MAARS) is a new but it’s been fruitful.
Adan Trevino heads up MAARS, which works with high school seniors and juniors and prepares them for college life. MAARS students enroll in a six-week summer program where they come on campus and stay in the dorms. The hope is that early exposure to college life will motivate the students to stay in high school and move on to college.
Last year MAARS accommodated 66 students and had a 100 percent completion rate from the six-week program. Trevino said 15 seniors went on to graduate high school and earned scholarships to attend college.
But there are those migrant students that don’t make it out of high school and there’s a third program that’s available to them too. The High School Equivalency Program (HEP) provides GED training and college prep courses.
Toni Luna heads the HEP at TSTC and said many students fall through the cracks and never get an opportunity to continue their education.
“For a lot of these kids, their mentality is to work first and because they’re migrants they fall behind in school,” Luna said. “They then become labeled at-risk and they drop out. We provide an opportunity for them to complete their GED. We provide daily meals and pay for Accuplacer and GED testing for some of them.”
HEP and CAMP are federally funded programs and they have to reapply every five years. HEP has been at TSTC since 2000 and camp started three years ago. MAARS is funded by participating school districts and is in its first year at TSTC.
“We’re the only two-year college in Texas that offers all three programs,” Mata said. “There are also other four-year universities that offer the same programs. There’s a lot of communication between us and our staffs to help the students succeed.”