Forty high school migrant students from across Texas were recognized today at the 26th Annual Migrant Student Recognition Ceremony at The University of Texas at Austin.
College scholarships were awarded to five of these students, including the two Exemplary Migrant Students of the Year: Armando Garza of Donna High School in Donna and Xavier Zamora of Robstown High School in Robstown.
The remaining scholarships were awarded to Edna Gaytan of La Joya High School in La Joya; Jasmine Leos of Lopez High School in Brownsville; and the Creative Award winner Ivan Ramirez of Edinburg North High School in Edinburg.
All five scholarships are a gift from ExxonMobil, which has provided annual scholarships to the program since 2002. The Exemplary Migrant Students of the Year were selected based on obstacles they have overcome, overall academic achievements, participation and leadership in extracurricular activities, and performance in courses offered by the university's Migrant Student Graduation Enhancement Program.
The ceremony in the Texas Union Ballroom honored students who have completed distance learning courses through the Migrant Student Graduation Enhancement Program in the K-16 Education Center, a department of the Division of Continuing and Innovative Education. The program provides flexible courses and support services that enable migrant students to earn high school credit at any time and any place in order to meet and often exceed high school graduation requirements.
Texas has the second-largest migrant education program and the largest interstate migrant student population in the nation. Students and their families migrate annually from Texas to 47 other states to work in agricultural and other seasonal jobs.
"One of the highlights of my year is learning about the success of our exemplary migrant students and meeting these inspiring students in person at our annual ceremony," said Jeff Treichel, executive director, ad interim, of Continuing and Innovative Education. "These exemplary students have already made an impact on their schools and communities as high achievers, student leaders and community volunteers, and each one of them aspires to continue learning and achieving at institutions of higher education. I look forward to learning of their future contributions in their chosen fields of study."
With funding from the Texas Education Agency and gifts from ExxonMobil and the Guadalupe and Lilia Martinez Foundation, the Migrant Student Graduation Enhancement Program has enrolled more than 26,000 students in its mission to increase the graduation rate of high school migrant students in Texas. During the past 26 years, thousands of migrant students have earned high school credits through the program's distance learning courses to help them reach their goal of high school graduation. Many of these students are the first in their families to reach this educational level, and a number of the program's high school graduates are now attending college in Texas and across the nation.