AUSTIN, Texas—The 2001 Migrant Student of the Year, chosen from among 1,000 migrant students from throughout Texas involved in a special distance learning program, will be announced during recognition ceremonies at The University of Texas at Austin on March 5.
About 175 migrant students will attend the ceremony, celebrating the successes of a program that provides innovative distance learning opportunities for migrant children from numerous schools throughout Texas. It will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Burnt Orange Room of the Frank C. Erwin Center, located just south of the UT Austin main campus.
The keynote speaker for the program will be Professor Rolando Hinojosa-Smith, the marshal of the University and Ellen Clayton Garwood Centennial Professor In Creative Writing.
Counselors nominate the students, who are evaluated on the basis of obstacles they have overcome, their academic achievements including grades and honors, participation and leadership in extracurricular activities including paid work and volunteer work, and performance in the migrant student program courses. A group of college students who completed the distance learning program when they were migrant students in high school was chosen to decide who would be the 2001 Migrant Student of the Year.
The approximately 1,000 students from throughout Texas in the distance learning program this year are succeeding in the completion of their graduation requirements despite obstacles of having spent much less time in the classroom than most other students. Throughout most of their school careers, they have had to miss several weeks of school in late spring and again in the early fall to go with their families to work in agricultural fields and other jobs far from home.
Migrant students from the Alvin, Booker, Brownsville, Carrizo Springs, Corpus Christi, Denton, Donna, Goose Creek, La Joya, McAllen, Santa Rosa, South San Antonio and Uvalde school districts will be honored during the ceremony for their completions of the program’s distance learning courses.
Before the luncheon, students will meet with representatives from the UT Austin Office of Admissions and Student Financial Aid. Three former migrant students who now are attending UT Austin will meet with the high school migrant students to discuss their experiences as college students. Afterward, the high school students will tour the UT Austin campus.
Héctor Ortiz, educational services administrator, said the Migrant Student Program, which began in 1987, has helped students catch up with the study level of their classmates who were fortunate enough to remain in school throughout the year.
Many of these hard-working students represent the first high school graduates in their families, and some are becoming college graduates. The University of Texas at Austin offers the courses through high schools in Texas and with the help of the Texas Education Agency.
The program offers course study guides and textbooks in print and computer-based formats. The newest method of getting these materials is an Internet on-line course now being developed with funding by Microsoft. These courses can help the students get high school credit.
The mission of this cooperative effort is to build on migrant students’ strengths, eliminate barriers and provide continuity of education for those who have so often been lost to the opportunities of the world. Texas has the second-largest Migrant Education Program in the nation and has the largest interstate migrant student population in the country. Students and their families migrate annually to 48 receiving states.
For additional information, contact Ortiz or Peggy Wimberley, Migrant Student Graduation Enhancement Program, at 1-800-444-1905.