AUSTIN, Texas—The University of Texas at Austin on March 21 will honor 38 exemplary migrant high school students and announce the names of two seniors selected as Migrant Students of the Year during the 2005 Migrant Student Recognition Ceremony and Luncheon at the Frank C. Erwin Special Events Center.
More than 200 migrant students from 28 high schools and 19 school districts in Texas will attend the 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. event honoring student achievements in the Migrant Student Graduation Enhancement Program. The Division of Continuing Education’s Distance Education Center operates the program, which provides innovative learning opportunities for migrant students from schools throughout Texas.
Dr. Shirley J. Neeley, commissioner of education at the Texas Education Agency, will offer introductory remarks at the ceremony. Dr. Felipe Alanis, associate dean of Continuing Education, will deliver the keynote address.
“The migrant student ceremony is an important recognition of both student and family achievement,” Alanis said. “The program is a wonderful example of how private industry in partnership with public state agencies make a positive investment to our state.”
Texas has the second-largest migrant education program and the largest interstate migrant student population in the nation. Students and their families migrate annually from Texas to 47 other states. The Migrant Student Graduation Enhancement Program originated in 1987 and has since enrolled about 15,000 students. Several individuals, companies and philanthropic organizations, including the Microsoft Corporation and the Beaumont Foundation of America, support the program through gifts and special project grants.
This year, more than 750 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.
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. Several of the students receive laptops in order to take advantage of the technology-based courses developed by curriculum experts at the university’s Distance Education Center. Many of the students in the program are the first high school graduates in their families, and most intend to continue a post-secondary education and become college graduates.
Peggy Wimberley, coordinator of the program, said the Migrant Student Program offers solutions to help support migrant students, whether they are in Texas school districts or working in agriculture across the country.
“This program represents the best of the university’s capacity for outreach and service,” Wimberley said. “We help migrant students achieve their educational goals by fostering innovation, facilitating educational continuity and nurturing the students’ determination.”
Counselors nominate “Migrant Student of the Year” candidates who are evaluated based on 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 will be given to each of the Migrant Students of the Year.
For more information about the university’s Migrant Student Graduation Enhancement Program, contact Wimberley at 512-471-6037.
For more information contact: Ramona Kelly, Continuing and Extended Education, 512-471-2772, or Robert D. Meckel, Office of Public Affairs, 512-475-7847.