High school migrant students from across the state will be recognized at a special ceremony at 11:30 a.m. on March 31 during the annual Migrant Student Recognition Ceremony at The University of Texas at Austin.
The ceremony in the ballroom of the Texas Union will honor Texas students who have completed distance learning courses through the university’s Migrant Student Graduation Enhancement Program in the Division of Continuing Education. The program provides learning tools, services, courses, computer equipment and software applications that enable migrant students to meet or exceed requirements for high school graduation.
“The focus of the ceremony is on these accomplished students. The theme will be the new César Chávez statue located on the West Mall in the heart of the university’s campus,” said Dr. Judy C. Ashcroft, dean of continuing and innovative education. “The statue is an ideal symbol for migrant students since César Chávez devoted his life to improving the living conditions of farm workers. Its presence on the university campus conveys the message that migrant students belong on a college campus.”
Forty exemplary migrant students featured in the 2008 Exemplary Migrant Student publication will be recognized at the ceremony that will be held on the birthday of César Chávez. Two of the featured students will be named as “Students of the Year.” They and three other exemplary migrant students will each receive a $2,000 college scholarship from ExxonMobil. The checks will be presented by Rosendo Cruz, program officer for education and diversity at ExxonMobil.
“It is an honor to recognize these high school migrant students for overcoming the difficulties of their migrant lifestyle and for achieving academic excellence and leadership roles in their schools and communities,” said Ashcroft, who will give the welcoming remarks for the event. “I value the opportunity to encourage these outstanding students to continue their educations beyond high school and to invite them to apply for admission to The University of Texas at Austin.”
Dr. Felipe Alanis, associate dean of continuing education and K-16 education, will preside at the event. Senior Associate Dean of Students Margarita M. Arellano, the project director for the César Chávez statue unveiling event in October 2007, will deliver the keynote address.
About 150 migrant students, 30 parents and 40 educators from 23 school districts, including Alpine, Bastrop, Brackett, Brownsville, Donna, Eagle Pass, Edinburg, El Paso, Fabens, Fort Worth, Goose Creek, Harlingen, La Joya, Lamesa, Mission, Plains, Pharr-San Juan-Alamo, Roma, Santa Maria, Sharyland, Taylor, Uvalde and Weslaco will attend the ceremony. More than 100 guests from The University of Texas at Austin, the Texas Education Agency and the Texas Legislature also will attend the event that features a performance by the UT Ballet Folklórico.
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 48 other states to work in agricultural and other seasonal jobs.
Since it was begun more than two decades ago, the Migrant Student Graduation Enhancement Program has enrolled more than 21,000 students in its mission to increase the graduation rate of high school migrant students in Texas. With funding from the Texas Education Agency and gifts from the Beaumont Foundation of America, ExxonMobil, the John G. and Marie Stella Kenedy Memorial Foundation and the Microsoft Corporation, the program helps Texas migrant students earn high school credits through distance learning courses that meet Texas curriculum requirements.