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ASU Program Helps Students from Migrant Worker Communities Achieve Success

ASU CAMP program

Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa was once an undocumented farmworker picking vegetables in California. Today, he’s a neurosurgeon at Mayo Clinic who directs a laboratory searching for a brain cancer cure. Jose Hernandez had to homeschool himself when his migrant worker parents traveled back and forth between Mexico and the United States. He became an astronaut who rocketed to the International Space Station and runs his own youth science education foundation.

People in the migrant worker community can achieve their wildest dreams. And the CAMP Scholars Project is here to help them start on that path. The federally funded program, which began in 1972, launched at Arizona State University in 2016. It’s the only such program in Arizona at a four-year university.

Each year, up to 35 students from Arizona’s migrant and seasonal farmworker community are chosen to participate in the program during their first year at ASU. Applicants for CAMP (College Assistance Migrant Program) must be U.S. citizens or have permanent resident status.

CAMP aims to be a “home away from home” for students – many of whom are moving from a smaller city or rural community – and to be a point of connection for students’ families. The program helps students navigate the educational system and gives them the tools they need to graduate ASU with a degree.

“We say we’re creating a whole person and a whole family,” says Rogelio Ruiz, CAMP recruiter and family engagement coordinator. “So [we’re] making sure the students have the sense of belonging to the university.”

Families are closely connected with ASU's CAMP project.

Families are closely connected with ASU’s CAMP Scholars Project.

To introduce pre-college students to university life, the program provides bilingual campus tours for youth and their families. Students also have the opportunity to meet one-on-one with migrant students already studying at ASU. 

CAMP hosts forums on preparing for college, finding funds, and selecting a major that sets them on a path to their desired career. In addition, they help students complete their online FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and ASU admissions application, plus apply for fee waivers.

Just before school starts, CAMP hosts a Bienvenida program so students can get oriented to the university and families can stay in the dorm to see what it’s like to be a collegian.

Once students enter ASU, an Academic Success Coordinator helps them create an individualized learning plan, choose courses and a major, explore career and internship opportunities, set goals, and meet the challenges of college life. The program also helps CAMP students seek out and secure scholarships and internships while they are at ASU.

Each CAMP scholar is paired with an upper-division student who mentors them and provides advice about academic and social life in college. CAMP scholars also attend weekly study hall and have access to one-on-one tutoring.

In addition, CAMP scholars participate in volunteer programs centered around social justice, diversity, and civic engagement. Students are placed with organizations such as the Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics, the office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and the Public Service Academy.

Last year, one woman was one of six students throughout the U.S. chosen to do an internship in Washington, D.C.; she worked for Congressman Raúl Grijalva. Another student went back home to San Luis, Arizona to do a summer internship with Housing America. The organization was so happy with his work they awarded him a $2,000 scholarship.

To make students marketable in interviews and internships, CAMP partners with Dress for Success and Men’s Wearhouse to give them access to office-ready outfits.

CAMP scholars experience arts and culture, like this exhibit at the Heard Museum.

CAMP scholars experience arts and culture, like this exhibit at the Heard Museum.

Scholars can also enrich their college experience with arts and culture through CAMP’s partnership with ASU Gammage, Performance in the Borderlands, and the Herberger Institute of Design and the Arts.

“We’re also helping the students to become more critical thinkers,” Ruiz says. “So we have presenters that come and talk to them and expose them to new ideas, career options, even studying abroad. We want to let the students know what’s out there.”

To help students save money and study while visiting home, CAMP even offers a lending library featuring typical first-year textbooks, as well as loaner laptops.

Learn more about ASU’s CAMP Scholars Project at their English/Spanish website.