Felipe Lopez Sustaita was recently honored as the 2014 College Assistance Migrant Program Scholars Initiative (CAMP) Scholar during the 14th Annual MSU CAMP Recognition Ceremony. This honor was bestowed upon Lopez Sustaita in celebration of him being the first MSU CAMP Scholar to earn a doctorate degree.
“It was truly an honor to be recognized as the first MSU CAMP student to earn a doctorate degree,” Lopez Sustaita said. “Migrant workers are one of the most at-risk populations in the country so to be able to earn a doctorate degree is a phenomenal accomplishment.”
MSU CAMP is an educational program that offers individuals with migrant or seasonal farm work backgrounds a unique opportunity to begin an undergraduate program at MSU.
Lopez Sustaita, the youngest of eight siblings, was born in Matehuala, San Luis Potosi, Mexico. He immigrated to the U.S. when he was very young and worked as a migrant farm worker until he started college. As part of the 2001 MSU CAMP class, Lopez Sustaita earned a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice in 2005 and a Master of Social Work in 2007, both from MSU. In May 2014, he completed his Doctorate in Education, with a specialization in community college leadership from Ferris State University.
“MSU CAMP has played a pivotal role in my success,” Lopez Sustaita said. “I initially came to this country illegally with my parents and seven siblings. We risked our lives to pursue the American Dream, and to be able to reach that dream as a first generation immigrant and migrant demonstrates that any of the MSU CAMP students can succeed at MSU and in higher education in general. I came to MSU CAMP with a 13 ACT and a very low GPA out of high school yet they still gave me an opportunity. There were many obstacles along the way. My father passed away my sophomore year, yet I continued to press forward to earn both a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree from MSU. I was able to pay for my Master’s degree thanks to the MSU CAMP program, as they offered me a graduate assistantship. I could always count on the MSU CAMP program to take care of me when I needed support.”
Lopez Sustaita currently works as the LUCERO coordinator and academic advisor at Lansing Community College. The LUCERO program is designed to create a positive connection for Latino students at LCC by offering academic advising, career and personal counseling, transfer transition support, and personalized tutoring.
“My goal is to become a community college president within the next five years,” Lopez Sustaita said. “Every time I share this goal with people they laugh, but the reality is that many people do not know that I grew up working in the fields from the day I was able to walk. I grew accustomed to working 16-hour shifts at the age of 12. I like setting my goals high because we need more people that look like me setting an example for other Latinos.”
MSU CAMP, funded by the U.S. Department of Education, was initiated in 2000 and is a unique program designed to service incoming migrant and seasonal farm worker students at MSU.Visit the MSU CAMP website for more information.