High school migrant students from across the state will be recognized at The University of Texas at Austin on April 11 during the 24th annual Migrant Student Recognition Ceremony.
The ceremony will take place at 12:30 p.m. in the ballroom of the Texas Union to honor Texas students who have completed distance learning courses through the Migrant Student Graduation Enhancement Program, a program of the university’s Continuing and Innovative Education. The program provides flexible courses and support services that enable migrant students to earn high school credit at any time and any place in order to meet and often exceed high school graduation requirements.
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 to work in agricultural and other seasonal jobs. With the help of this program, migrant students are able to stay in school and graduate high school on time.
“One of the highlights of my year is learning about the success of our exemplary migrant students and meeting these inspiring students in person at our annual ceremony,” said Dr. Judy C. Ashcroft, dean of continuing and innovative education. “These exemplary students have already made an impact on their schools and communities as high achievers, student leaders and community volunteers. Each of them aspires to continue their education at institutions of higher education. I look forward to learning of their future successes in their chosen fields of study.”
During the ceremony, 40 exemplary migrant students from throughout Texas will be recognized and presented with a medal by Rosie Garza from the division of migrant education at the Texas Education Agency. Texas Representative Aaron Peña will also present college scholarships to five students, including the two “Exemplary Migrant Students of the Year.” All five scholarships are a gift from the ExxonMobil Foundation, which has provided annual scholarships to the program since 2002.
One of the remaining scholarship recipients will be the winner of the program’s Creative Award competition. Students who competed for this award submitted entries in a range of creative endeavors including engineering drafting, photography, singing, folklorico dancing and song writing. Several of these entries will be displayed at the ceremony.
About 150 migrant students, 40 parents and 60 educators are expected to attend the ceremony with 19 school districts represented. These school districts include Brownsville, Conroe, Corpus Christi, Donna, Eagle Pass, Edinburg, El Paso, Fabens, Goose Creek, La Feria, La Joya, Mathis, Pharr-San Juan-Alamo, Point Isabel, Sharyland, Star, Taylor, United and Ysleta. About 75 guests from The University of Texas at Austin, the Texas Education Agency and the Texas Legislature are also expected to attend the event.
Musical performances at the ceremony will be provided by Mariachi de Oro from Crockett High School in the Austin Independent School District. The finale of the event will be a performance by Exemplary Migrant Student Esmeralda Perez from Eagle Pass High School who will sing a traditional folk song.
Activities before and after the ceremony provide students with an opportunity to learn more about The University of Texas at Austin. At 10 a.m. in the Texas Union Theatre Room, students will learn about the university’s application process from Freshman Admissions and participate in a panel discussion about college life with university students who are former migrant students. The day will conclude with a tour of the campus.
With funding from the Texas Education Agency and gifts from the ExxonMobil Foundation and the John G. and Marie Stella Kenedy Memorial Foundation, the Migrant Student Graduation Enhancement Program has enrolled more than 25,000 students over the past 24 years in its mission to increase the graduation rate of high school migrant students in Texas. Since its inception, thousands of migrant students have earned high school credits through the program’s distance learning courses to help them reach their goal of high school graduation. Many of these students are the first in their families to reach this educational level, and a number of the program’s high school graduates are now attending college in Texas and across the nation.