More than 330 Migrant Education students from San Diego and Orange counties graduated this spring, in part because of their participation in the Migrant Education program administered by the San Diego County Office of Education.
The graduates were honored for their achievements at the 2nd Annual Migrant Education Graduation Celebration at the California Center for the Arts, Escondido. Family members, teachers, administrators, and other officials, including Mexican Consul General Luis Cabrera, Escondido City Mayor Lori Holt Pfeiler, and San Diego County Superintendent of Schools Rudy Castruita were all in attendance.
"Don't ever let anyone tell you, you cannot dream to be successful," Castruita said during his speech to the graduates. "Don't ever forget where you came from, no matter how successful you become."
The Migrant Education program educates 16,500 students per year, and of these students, 235 graduated from North County schools. The Escondido graduation ceremony also honored six parents from Solana Beach and San Marcos who completed GED courses.
While the national high school graduation rate for Latinos is estimated at 63 percent, 80 percent of San Diego and Orange County seniors in the migrant education program graduated this year, according to Maria Chavez, Executive Director of the Migrant Education program.
Jessica Ambriz, a graduate from Fallbrook High School, said, "I have been involved in the migrant education program since elementary school. They have helped me with school supplies, tutoring and getting into college." Ambriz will attend Cal State San Marcos in the fall and major in Psychology.
During the ceremony, 23 California Mini-Corps members, former migrant students currently attending college and working as mentors for migrant education students, inspired the audience as they announced the universities they attend. Several of them are attending Cal State University San Marcos, San Diego State University, and Palomar College.
Recent graduates were also recognized and announced college plans and career goals. Several students will attend CSUSM, SDSU, Chico State University, University of San Francisco, University of California Santa Barbara, Cal State Dominguez Hills, Cal State Fullerton, and join the Naval Academy.
Twenty-seven of the graduates received $500 scholarships, and Juana Rodriguez, a graduate from Fallbrook High, and Israel Yanez, a graduate from Oceanside High, received Sony laptops given through a raffle.
San Marcos resident Heron Martin provided the entertainment as he serenaded the crowd with two Mexican pieces, and Oceanside's Ballet Folklorico Estrella performed traditional Mexican dances.
"I am very excited to start college and make my family proud. Thanks to the migrant education program I have been able to go this far," said Jose Esquiver, of Oceanside High, who will attend CSUSM in the fall, majoring in Computer Science Software Design.
"My mother enrolled me in the migrant education program. At first I wasn't sure what the program was all about, but it has helped me throughout my schooling in so many ways," said Elizabeth Abarca of Katella High School in Orange County. Abarca is enrolled for fall classes at Cal State Fullerton to study to be a biologist and pediatrician.
The Migrant Education program provides academic support, counseling and guidance for students whose parents are or have been migrant farm workers. The program recruits students and implements professional development, parent training, and parent involvement for at-risk students.
Scholarships were sponsored by Alejandro Gonzalez, Blue Cross California, El Chinaco Restaurant, Community Health Group, El Achieve, Grupo Financiero Latino, Health Net & Amin David, Integrity Realty Group, Neighborhood Healthcare, North County Health Services, Palomar Pomerado Health Systems, Pro Specialties Group, Rogers Home Improvements, San Ysidro Health Center, SONY, Vista Community Clinic, Wells Fargo Bank-Escondido, Wells Fargo Bank-Orange County, Wilcox Auto Repair.