AUSTIN, Texas—High school students Antonio Manriquez of Midland, Texas, and Juliana Quintanilla of McAllen, Texas, were named Students of the Year Monday (March 29) by the Migrant Student Graduation Enhancement Program at The University of Texas at Austin.
They were chosen on the basis of obstacles they had to overcome, overall academic achievements, extracurricular activities and their performance in the migrant student distance learning courses.
Manriquez and Quintanilla were among 1,400 Texas migrant students who participate in The University of Texas at Austin’s Migrant Student High School Graduation Enhancement Program. The recognition ceremonies at the Frank Erwin Center also honored 32 other students in the program for their exemplary accomplishments. More than 300 guests attended the luncheon.
Manriquez lives in Midland, Texas with his parents, Ricardo and Maria Manriquez. Since he was very young, Manriquez has migrated with his family to work in the cotton fields and pecan groves of Texas. Recently, he migrated alone to Gulfport, Miss., where he cleaned shrimp.
A junior at Midland High School, Manriquez will graduate next year under the Distinguished Achievement Program. He has a grade-point average of 3.72 on a four-point scale and has received several academic awards.
Quintanilla, the daughter of Javier and Rebeca Quintanilla of McAllen, was born in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico, and has been migrating with her family to California every year since she was born. She began working with her family in the fields picking apricots and grapes when she was 12 years old. Quintanilla is a senior at “Nikki” Rowe High School, where she has a 94.84 grade average. She ranks in the top 10 percent of her class and she has received several academic honors.
Manriquez and Quintanilla each will receive a $4,000 college scholarship funded by donations from the ExxonMobil Foundation and Elva Treviño Hart, author of the book "Barefoot Heart: Stories of a Migrant Child.” Chris Alvarado, program director for the Participation and Success Division at the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, was the keynote speaker at this year’s event.
The Migrant Graduation Enhancement Program, which is coordinated through the university’s Continuing and Extended Education’s Distance Education Center, offers distance education courses to high school students with the help of the Texas Education Agency. Since the Migrant Student Graduation Program was started 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.
For more information contact: Nancy Pettit, Continuing and Extended Education, 512- 471-9260, or Robert D. Meckel, Office of Public Affairs, 512-475-7847.