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 College-Bound Students from Migrant Families Surprised with Scholarships

Three college-bound students from migrant families were recognized last week with $1,000 scholarships each sponsored by Northgate Gonzalez Market.

The day began at Oceanside High School, where representatives from the Migrant Education program, Oceanside school, and district officials and Northgate Gonzalez Market presented Ashley Joselyn Luis with her award. From there, the group visited Perla Merino Lopez's and Edgar Vasquez Rodriguez's homes, Publisher Clearinghouse-style, surprising the students and greeting them with balloons, flowers, a cake, and an oversized check.

"We are so thankful to Northgate Gonzalez Market's commitment and generosity in awarding our amazing students," said Monica Ruiz-LaBerge, senior director of Migrant Education for the San Diego County Office of Education. "It's moments like this that help our students see that our community truly cares about them and supports them on their educational journey and getting closer to their dreams."

Luis, who graduated from Oceanside High School and will attend Cal State San Marcos (CSUSM) in the fall, has experienced homelessness for the last four years. While the pandemic has called into question her hope of living in the dorms — to have a dedicated place to study, but also as one less concern for her family — Luis is set up for success. She will participate in the College Assistance Migrant Program, which aims to help students from migrant and seasonal farm worker families to succeed in college

Merino Lopez, who graduated from San Marcos High School and will attend CSUSM, is a resilient student who was able to overcome numerous barriers, including learning English as a second language, financial struggles, and moving from California to Mexico and back due to seasonal work opportunities for her family. Despite these challenges, Merino Lopez balanced an extremely rigorous course load including seven honors and Advanced Placement courses, maintaining a 3.98 weighted grade point average.

Vasquez Rodriguez, who graduated from Fallbrook High School (FHS) and will attend CSUSM, is a hardworking student who arrived in this country from Guatemala in December 2017. "When Edgar started FHS, he knew that it was not going to be easy being in a new country," reads his scholarship nomination. "Edgar enrolled in ESL night classes at Palomar College to be able to learn English faster and continued to work hard, receiving mostly A's every semester throughout his 2 1/2 years at FHS."

"We are extremely proud of these students," said Ruiz-LaBerge. "It was such a joy to visit our incredible students and award them for their academic success. The smiles on these hardworking and dedicated families' faces along with the tears of happiness as they were receiving their awards was a sight to see."

Migrant Education is a federally funded program that provides supplementary educational and support services to identified migrant students. The Migrant Education Program Region IX is administered through the San Diego County Office of Education and serves students in Orange and San Diego counties.