Luz Hinojosa has spent most of her life on the migrant trail.
From the time she was born until her junior year in college, she traveled each spring to California's San Joaquin Valley with her family from their home in Mission, Texas, to clean cotton and pick grapes.
Despite her constant mobility, Hinojosa was able to maintain her studies and graduate at the top of her high school class. She went on to graduate from St. Edward's University with a double major in English Writing and Political Science. In 2010, she earned her master's degree in public policy from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs.
Hinojosa gives back to the migrant community through her work at the K-16 Education Center's Migrant Student Graduation Enhancement Program, a division of Continuing and Innovative Education (CIE) at the university.
CIE: What made you want to work for CIE's Migrant Student Program?
Hinojosa: I wanted to help migrant students stay in school and succeed. When I was in college, I was involved with helping migrant freshmen as they entered college. Before I graduated, I heard about the Migrant Student Program at UT. I found the program's Web site and read about it. When I graduated college in December of 2003, I applied to work for CIE and I started work here in February of 2004. Not a day goes by that I do not appreciate the work that I do and the people who I work for.
What do you think is the program's biggest impact on migrant students?
It helps these students believe that high school graduation is attainable. Even if they are moving around, working long hours, if they finish even one course through the program, it builds the confidence they need to finish high school. It gives them hope. They don't have to fall behind or give up.
Are there any specific student stories you would want to share?
One student and family that jumps to mind is Erick Sanchez. He and his brothers Daniel and Nestor all met their goal of finishing high school in three years through our program. Even though they were working in the fields, they worked weekends and nights to finish school so they could help their family. We've also had many "students of the year" with incredible stories. Alexis Fernandez attended seven or eight high schools while traveling with his family. He was able to finish high school on time through our program. He's now a Mechanical Engineering senior here at UT. Amanda Lira was living in a bus when she completed high school through our program. These students show incredible drive and commitment. Despite the obstacles in their lives, they still have that motivation to finish school to have better futures by choosing to go to college.
This Q-and-A originally appeared on the CIE Web site.
More about the Migrant Student Graduation Enhancement Program:
The mission of the Migrant Student Graduation Enhancement Program is to help Texas migrant students graduate from high school by providing opportunities to earn credit at any time and any place. The program offers 42 distance learning courses that are aligned with the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills and help migrant students prepare for the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills.