AUSTIN, Texas—Two high school students, Crystal Alvarez of Mission and Ernesto Munoz of Midland, have been named Students of the Year by the Migrant Student Graduation Enhancement Program at The University of Texas at Austin.
Both students will receive a $2,000 college scholarship funded by a gift donation from the ExxonMobil Foundation. The students were selected on the basis of obstacles overcome, overall academic achievements, participation and leadership in extracurricular activities and their performance in distance learning courses in the university’s Migrant Student Program.
Alvarez and Munoz were among 40 migrant students honored Monday, April 23, at the Frank C. Erwin Center for their exemplary achievements during the university’s annual Migrant Student Recognition Ceremony, which was attended by 360 guests, including migrant students from 27 high schools and 19 Texas school districts. More than 1,000 Texas migrant students are completing their high school graduation requirements this year through the program, which is administered by the K-16 Education Center within the university’s Division of Continuing Education.
"This is the 20th anniversary of our migrant ceremony where we recognize migrant students for excelling in high school and contributing to their communities in spite of the obstacles that result from a migratory lifestyle," said Dr. Felipe Alanis, associate dean of Continuing Education and K-16 Education. "This occasion also allows us to show our appreciation to the families, teachers and public and private organizations that work with us to support the success of these students and encourage them to pursue their future educational dreams."
Alvarez, a junior at Mission Veterans Memorial High School, lives with her parents, Jose and Florencia Alvarez. She has two brothers and four sisters. She has migrated with her family to six different states, enrolling in multiple schools throughout each school year. Nevertheless, Alvarez, who aspires to earn a doctor’s degree in education, has a 3.6 grade-point average, participates in extracurricular activities, plays soccer and volunteers for her community.
"In participating in the Harvest of Hope Club, she has been a leader and served in community service projects at nursing homes, parades and fundraisers," said Alvarez’s migrant education counselor.
Munoz, son of Adrian and Norma Munoz, is a senior at Midland High School. Despite migrating every year with his family to pick cotton and red peppers in El Paso, Texas, Munoz maintains a 3.73 grade-point average. He is active in organizations at his high school and volunteers at several community centers. Now working part time at the Investigative Unit of the Texas Department of Public Safety, Munoz plans to study criminal justice and eventually attend law school.
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 university’s Migrant Student Graduation Enhancement Program originated in 1987 and has since enrolled about about 19,000 students.
Several philanthropic foundations, individuals, companies and organizations, including the Texas Education Agency, Microsoft Corporation, the Beaumont Foundation of America, and the John G. and Marie Stella Kenedy Memorial Foundation, support the program through gifts and a special project grant. 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.
For more information contact: Robert D. Meckel, Office of Public Affairs, 512-475-7847; Peggy Wimberley, Migrant Student Graduation Enhancement Program, 512-471-6037.