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NMSU receives $2.1 million grant renewal of College Assistance Migrant Program

New Mexico State University celebrated the grant renewal of a program that assists students who are migratory or seasonal farmworkers - or their children - who are enrolled in their first year of undergraduate studies.

During a Research Rally March 20, Cynthia Bejarano discusses the $2.1 million grant renewal the College Assistance Migrant Program was awarded from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Migrant Education. (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips)

Honored during an NMSU Research Rally March 20, the College Assistance Migrant Program was awarded $2.1 million from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Migrant Education. It is one of eight programs in the country selected to be refunded with a five-year grant from the Office of Migrant Education in 2012. This is the NMSU program's third grant award.

"NMSU's CAMP's mission is to serve the post-secondary educational needs - recruitment, retention and graduation - of farmworkers in New Mexico," said Cynthia Bejarano, associate professor of criminal justice in the College of Arts & Sciences, and CAMP's principal investigator. "CAMP also serves as a bridge for outreach purposes with several community and statewide organizations to pursue the greater goal of educating future leaders of New Mexico and the greater border region."

CAMP is the only year-long academic program committed to farmworker students attending NMSU. Since it started in 2002, the program has served 290 students from across New Mexico and West Texas.

"We have served the educational needs of farmworker families for more than a decade," Bejarano said. "More than 45 sets of siblings, that's 100 students, have participated in NMSU CAMP since 2002."

Bejarano said the immediate goal of CAMP is to retain freshmen students through their first year at NMSU and to enroll them in their second academic year. The long-term goal is to have students graduate with a bachelor's degree, and it promotes professional careers and graduate studies.

The program provides the freshmen 50 percent of their housing and meal plan costs, book stipends and a student stipend, along with advising, tutoring, mentoring and leadership opportunities. After the first year, CAMP continues to provide follow-up services with book stipends - when funding is available - along with other leadership opportunities, career/job preparedness, graduate school preparedness workshops and guidance. CAMP also reaches out to students from high school Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics programs.

Since CAMP began, 63 students have graduated with a bachelor's degree from NMSU, with an average GPA of 3.20. Eight students completed master's degrees and seven more are pursuing master's and doctoral degrees, Bejarano said. Of the CAMP participants who have graduated, 51 percent completed their degrees in 4 to 4½ years. Currently, 139 CAMP students are enrolled at NMSU.

"NMSU CAMP fulfills the university's land grant mission of serving New Mexico's diverse population," Bejarano said. "More than 80 percent of our graduates work throughout New Mexico in various careers such as middle and high school teachers, scientists, mechanical, electrical and civil engineers, accountants, loan officers, therapists, law enforcement professionals, social workers, Naval and National Guard officers, park rangers, recruitment/academic advisers, and specialists for various federal and state government agencies."

The Office of the Vice President for Research hosts a series of Research Rallies to inform the university community and stakeholders within New Mexico about NMSU's research successes and contributions. These rallies honor faculty and staff investigators for significant externally funded projects and elevate awareness about NMSU's research efforts and their impact on the New Mexico community and the common body of knowledge. The campus leadership, government officials and the media are invited to participate in the Research Rallies and to learn about the important work being done on a specific research project.