AUSTIN, Texas—Two Texas migrant high school students involved in a special distance learning program will be recognized as the 2004 Migrant Students of the Year during ceremonies from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Monday (March 29) at The University of Texas at Austin.
More than 200 migrant students from 19 schools and 13 school districts in Texas will attend the ceremony for invited guests in the Lone Star Room of the university’s Frank C. Erwin Center. The event celebrates the students’ successes in a program that provides innovative distance learning opportunities for migrant children from schools throughout Texas.
Chris Alvarado, program director for the Participation and Success Division at the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, will deliver the keynote address. Dr. Shirley J. Neeley, commissioner of education at the Texas Education Agency, also will speak during the event.
Since the Migrant Student Graduation Enhancement Program originated in 1987, it has enrolled nearly 15,000 students. With grant funding from the Texas Education Agency and special project grants from the Microsoft Corporation and the Beaumont Foundation of America, the program provides tools, services and courses to help migrant students achieve and maintain scholastic levels equivalent to those of their classmates who remain in school throughout the year. Many of the students in the program represent the first high school graduates in their families and some will go on to become college graduates.
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 47 other states. Through the university’s Distance Education Center, more than 1,000 students are successfully 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, these students have missed school during late spring and early fall as they migrate with their families.
Peggy Wimberley, coordinator of the program, said the Migrant Student Program offers solutions to help support migrant students, whether they are in their home Texas schools or traveling to remote areas of the country.
“We have developed successful support tools that mitigate the traditional barriers that migrant students face,” Wimberley said. “The program helps migrant students achieve educational goals by fostering innovation, facilitating educational continuity and nurturing the students’ determination.”
Counselors nominate “Migrant Student of the Year” award candidates who are evaluated on the basis of obstacles overcome, academic achievements, participation and leadership in extracurricular activities and performance in the Migrant Student Program courses. Former migrant high school students, who now are in college, selected the Student of the Year award recipients. College scholarships, funded by donations from the ExxonMobil Foundation and former migrant student and author Elva Treviño Hart, will be presented to the two Migrant Students of the Year. Each student will receive a $4,000 college scholarship. In addition to the two “Migrant Student of the Year” award presentations, 32 other students will be recognized as exemplary migrant students.
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 former migrant students who now are college students at The University of Texas at Austin and St. Edward’s University 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.