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Achievements of exemplary migrant students to be celebrated at The University of Texas at Austin

Two migrant students, chosen from among about 1,400 migrant students from throughout Texas involved in a special distance learning program, will be recognized as the 2003 Migrant Students of the Year during ceremonies from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., March 3 in the Burnt Orange Room of the Frank C. Erwin Center at The University of Texas at Austin.

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AUSTIN, Texas—Two migrant students, chosen from among about 1,400 migrant students from throughout Texas involved in a special distance learning program, will be recognized as the 2003 Migrant Students of the Year during ceremonies from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., March 3 in the Burnt Orange Room of the Frank C. Erwin Center at The University of Texas at Austin.

More than 200 migrant students from 22 school districts will attend the ceremony, celebrating the successes of a program that provides innovative distance learning opportunities for migrant children from schools throughout Texas.

Elva Treviño Hart, author of "Barefoot Heart, Stories of a Migrant Child, a Memoir," is the keynote speaker.

Texas has the second-largest Migrant Education Program in the nation and the largest interstate migrant student population in the country. Students and their families migrate annually from Texas to other 48 states.

Counselors nominate the award candidates, 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 panel of former migrant high school students, who are now in college, and migrant student educators selected the two winners of the 2003 Migrant Student of the Year award. A $2,000 college scholarship, provided by the ExxonMobil Foundation, will be presented to the two Migrant Students of the Year. In addition to the two "Migrant Student of the Year" award presentations, 34 other students will be recognized as exemplary migrant students.

About 1,400 students in the distance learning program are succeeding at completing their high school graduation requirements despite 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.

Peggy Wimberley, coordinator of the program, said the Migrant Student Program, which began in 1987, has helped students catch up with the study level of their classmates who remained in school throughout the year. Many of these students represent the first high school graduates in their families and some will go on to become college graduates.

The mission of this cooperative effort is to build on migrant students’ strengths, eliminate barriers and provide continuity of education for those who otherwise might be left behind in the educational system. The University of Texas at Austin offers the courses, some of them print and others online, through high schools in Texas with the help of the Texas Education Agency. Students use laptop computers supplied by the Microsoft Corporation.

Before the luncheon, students will meet with representatives from the university’s Office of Admissions and Office of Student Financial Services. In addition, a panel of college students from The University of Texas at Austin who formerly were migrant students will provide advice about college to the visiting high school students. After the luncheon, the migrant students will tour The University of Texas at Austin campus.

For more information contact: Nancy Pettit, Distance Education Center, 512- 471-9260, or Robert D. Meckel, Office of Public Affairs, 512-475-7847.