CAMP Enrolls 26 Students

ACANS News & Information Center

CAMP Enrolls 26 Students

CAMP (College Assistance Migrant Program) is a federally funded program that offers financial, educational, and emotional assistances to first generation students of migrant or seasonal workers. Although the program has been in existence for more than 30 years, it is fairly new to the state of New Mexico and NMSU. In 2002, NMSU was awarded a five-year grant in the amount of $1.5 million to initiate the program on its campus.

In its fifth year, CAMP has assisted 116 students. Seventy-three percent of those who have gone through the program continue their education. This Spring, seven of the students who comprised CAMP’s first class will graduate. Larry Salazar, NMSU Recruitment Coordinator for CAMP, credits this success rate to support mechanisms built into NMSU’s CAMP program. NMSU’s CAMP program is a residential program, and those accepted into the program live and study together. Students are further supported through a mentoring program which is staffed by CAMP alumni. These upper classmen, act as Learning Community Leaders, peers, mentors, tutors, and residential assistance.

CAMP’s dedicated staff helps students make the transition from home to university life as smoothly as possible. During their first year at college, CAMP staff supports the students. For most of the 26 young students accepted into this year’s program, it is their first time away from home.

Le Ann Gottlieb, ICT Training Services, was among those CAMP administrators called upon to help the young students make the transition into their new environment. Gottlieb, a Student Training Consultant, conducted two hands-on workshops which introduced them to the computer and technical services available to them as NMSU students. Though many of the students possess basic computer skills, they did not know how to use NMSU Online. Gottlieb lead them through the site, showing them how to compose emails, check their grades and registration status, and how to use WebCT. She advised them on the dangers of posting personal information on the web, time management, basic laptop skills, and student employment opportunities.

Jose Cerna, foreground, and Omar Hernandez were among the CAMP students who attended an ICT workshop conducted by Student Training Consultant Le Ann Gottlieb.Jose Cerna, foreground, and Omar Hernandez were among the CAMP students who attended an ICT workshop conducted by Student Training Consultant Le Ann Gottlieb.

Jose Cerna was among the CAMP students who benefited from Gottlieb’s hands-on workshops. Cerna, 19, is from a small farming community in Duncan, Arizona. He is oldest of five children and the first person on either side of his family to attend college and break the cycle of migrant life. He explains that his parents came from Mexico for a better life, and that neither of them has more than a sixth grade education. Cerna’s parents worked hard and showed their five children that anything was possible through hard work. “We used to live in a two bedroom trailer,” says Cerna, “but my dad always said he was going to save his money and buy a house, and he did. My dad is my role model.”

Cerna is not a stranger to hard work either. His childhood was spent in the fields. At an early age, he was pulling weeds, as he got older, he was picking chili. In high school, he held two jobs. In the mornings, he worked in a dairy, and in the evenings, he worked as a dishwasher. “I wanted a car,” he explains, “my dad said he would help me if I worked hard. I bought my car and paid it off.”

Today, Cerna is applying his hard work ethic to his academic career. He says, “I haven’t been to see my family in a couple of weeks. Right now, I am concentrating on getting a high GPA and keeping my lottery scholarship.” He is running for Vice-President of CAMP, and says the inclusion into the CAMP program has given him confidence to seek opportunities that will round out his college experience.

Cerna is pursuing the life his parents told him was his, if he applied himself. “You can’t taste the joy until you taste the pain,” he says.

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