May 2, 2007 by Austin Craig NMSU News Center
Francisco A. Moran believed he had three options. He could join the military, work on a farm in his hometown of Salem, N.M., or attend a university. He decided he wanted to go to New Mexico State University, but as a migrant farm worker he didn’t know how he would pay for it.
“When I was 12 years old we would go to work at 2 a.m. during onion season,” Moran said. “Since it was still dark, we would use the car lights to start working. During high school, I would work on the weekends and part of the summer. I did this until I was 20 years old.”
Moran is now an accounting major at NMSU and he, along with four other College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) students, will graduate on May 12.
“Graduating from NMSU means that I have reached one of my goals,” Moran said. “It also means that my parent’s dreams have been achieved. They came to the U.S. to give us a better life and seeing us graduate from the university lets them know that their struggles were not in vain.”
Moran has four older siblings that have attended NMSU or Doña Ana Community College.
CAMP provides financial, educational and emotional assistance to students from migrant and seasonal farm working families. CAMP is primarily funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education. Since the program was introduced in 2002, 117 students have participated in CAMP at NMSU.
“CAMP has had a great influence on my success at NMSU,” Moran said. “CAMP paid for my dorm and meals for my first year in school, they helped me write an application letter for an internship and they gave me a job.”
Marisela Bobadilla is another graduating student who has been aided by CAMP.
“Being one of the five children of a migrant worker, I have lived at the mercy of mother earth – literally,” Bobadilla said. “My grandfather left his family behind in Zacatecas, Mexico, at the age of 14 to come and pursue a better life for everyone in his household. Now, more than 60 years later, he is still working these unpredictable fields.”
Bobadilla’s father, who began working with her grandfather at the age of 13, still works the fields.
Bobadilla will graduate with a double major in criminal justice and Spanish and a minor in government and has been active during her time at NMSU. In addition to CAMP, she is a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars (NSCS), the NMSU Honors College and the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU). She also served as a member of the residency appeals board of NMSU during 2005-2006.
Bobadilla has been a crimson scholar and listed on the dean’s list in the College of Arts and Sciences since 2003.
“Through my active participation in CAMP, I have had the opportunity to further expand my education horizons,” Bobadilla said. “Last year I participated in an internship in Washington, D.C., with the nonprofit organization, ‘Presidential Classroom,’ and learned how to work in a fast-paced environment and about the changing political setting in our nation’s capital.”
Bobadilla also participated in an internship with the Defense Intelligence Agency in Washington, D.C., during the summer of 2006.
“I owe so much to CAMP,” Bobadilla said. “This program has helped me achieve many of my undergraduate goals and maintain my overall goal of graduating from college. CAMP has made my time at NMSU the best time of my life with all the aid it provides.”
Bobadilla has a younger brother who was accepted to CAMP as a freshman this semester.
The other graduating CAMP students are Daniel Ramirez, Misael Mendoza and Jubilee Olivas.
CAMP students receive a monthly training stipend, housing and dining plan, health exams, financial and individualized academic planning and peer mentoring and tutoring.
“CAMP offers a break from the cycle of farm work,” said Cynthia Bejarano, who directs the NMSU CAMP program. “The students serve as an example for younger siblings and parents to continue their education.”
The CAMP program maintains an open door policy and provides students with a computer lab, weekly tutoring sessions, employment advice and positive support.
“We see ourselves as an extended family,” Bejarano said. “Students sit with advisers weekly and go over their progress and there are monthly progress reports to check for tutoring needs. We direct students to counseling if necessary and offer an ear to students who need to vent.”
To be eligible for the program, students must be citizens or permanent residents of the U.S., hold a high school diploma or GED and must be accepted at NMSU through their admissions process. In addition, they must have either participated in or be currently enrolled in a U.S. Department of Labor Workforce Investment Act, Migrant and Seasonal Farmworker Youth Program or participated in a migrant educational program while in a public school. The student or his/her family must also have worked at least 75 days in agricultural employment in the last year, not including food processing.
For more information call (505) 646-3316.