Texas Border Business
By Maria Gonzalez
RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas – UTRGV’s College Assistance Migrant Program has been awarded $2.3 million in federal funding to recruit and enroll 45 eligible migrant seasonal farmworker (MSFW) students who are engaged, or whose parents are engaged, in migrant and other seasonal farm work during their first year of college .
The award, from the US Department of Education’s Office of Migrant Education, is a five-year grant and goes through June 2027. UTRGV has CAMP programs on both the Brownsville and Edinburg campuses; This grant is for the Brownsville Campus, which was up for renewal this year.
CAMP was founded in 1972 under legacy institution UT Pan American and continues at UTRGV with staff dedicated to helping first-year migrant students achieve their higher education goals by providing them with academic tutoring, peer mentoring, financial assistance and career guidance.
“CAMP students receive academic support, advising and connections to various campus resources, and they make life-long friends,” said Cindy Valdez, associate vice president for College Access and K-12 Partnerships. “The program gives students the tools to succeed beyond their first year and builds on the ethic work and sacrifice they have seen modeled by their families,” she said.
Noel Rodriguez, CAMP special programs director on the Brownsville Campus and principal investigator on the grant, said the funding plays an essential role in demonstrating UTRGV CAMP’s commitment to student success in college and beyond.
“This work demonstrates to our community and our stakeholders that UTRGV is an institution of higher education that embraces the migrant seasonal farmworker community. We understand the need to provide supportive services from a program such as CAMP,” Rodriguez said.
“Additionally, CAMP will continue to join in on the effort with UTRGV to inform our communities and potential CAMP student participants of the excellent undergraduate academic programs and unique experiences UTRGV offers,” he said.
The grant seeks to support students in three areas: college and career planning, financial academic support, and resources, such as social and emotional support and cultural educational experiences.
The program projects that 86 percent of CAMP students will complete the first year of their postsecondary program, and 92 percent of CAMP students who complete their first academic year of college, will continue their post-secondary education.
Rodriguez, who has served as CAMP director for 13 years, said UTRGV supports the migrant farmworker community, and he looks forward to collaborating with regional school districts and their migrant education program staff by providing year-round outreach services about the CAMP program at UTRGV.
The grant is designed to provide migrant and seasonal farm working students with opportunities for educational growth.
“Because most CAMP students come from a first-generation college background, they immediately begin to shift their family’s educational trajectory when they enroll at UTRGV. They establish a college-going culture within their family for generations to come,” Rodriguez said.