AUSTIN, Texas—The eldest son in a family of seven was honored at The University of Texas at Austin this week as the 2001 Migrant Student of the Year for his exemplary academic accomplishments despite the obstacles he and his family have faced as migrant field workers.
Samuel Bernabe, a senior at McAllen Memorial High School in the Rio Grande Valley, was selected for the honor from among about 1,000 migrant students throughout Texas participating in UT Austin’s Migrant Student Graduation Enhancement Program, which is provided through the Continuing and Extended Education’s Distance Education Center. He was among about 175 migrant students attending a recognition luncheon for migrant students at UT Austin on Monday (March 5) when he was announced as the recipient of the special honor.
A senior with a grade point average of 3.81, Bernabe is ranked 38th in a class of 328 students. Through the UT Austin migrant studies program, he has earned credit in Health-on-a-Disk and Government-on-a-Disc. He will be graduated from high school as a Tech Prep Scholar and Texas Scholar, and has received numerous awards in school.
For the past 17 years, Bernabe and his family have migrated from their home in the Rio Grande Valley to Wilder, Idaho, where they have worked in sugar beet, corn, bean and alfalfa fields. This year, Bernabe left Idaho early, returning alone to McAllen, where he lived on his own from August through December in order to take honor courses at Memorial High School.
Typically, Texas children of migrant farm workers are at a disadvantage in the classroom because they miss so much school. They are uprooted from their Texas homes and schools during early spring to be with their families migrating to northern states to work in the fields. They often do not return to Texas until the late fall, long after their schoolmates have started class. Some migrant students are able to attend temporary schools in the northern states. To help them catch up with their Texas classmates when they return home, the distance learning program offers these students 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.
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 were honored as exemplary students during the luncheon this week.
For additional information, contact Ortiz or Peggy Wimberley, Migrant Student Graduation Enhancement Program, at 1-800-444-1905.
Note to editors: A high-resolution photograph of Samuel Bernabe is available at the following Web site: <www.utexas.edu/admin/opa/news/
01newsreleases/nr_200103/bernabe2.html>, or by contacting Office of Public Affairs Photographer Marsha Miller at (512) 471-6412, or via e-mail at: <firstname.lastname@example.org>.