A grant of more than $2 million from the U.S. Department of Education was recently renewed that will allow Michigan State University to continue a program that provides much-needed assistance to students who are children of migrant farm workers.

A grant of more than $2 million from the U.S. Department of Education was recently renewed that will allow Michigan State University to continue a program that provides much-needed assistance to students who are children of migrant farm workers.

The five-year grant will fund MSU’s College Assistance Migrant Scholars Initiative.  This initiative was established at MSU in 2000 to identify, recruit, admit, and enroll migrant and seasonal farm worker students and provide them academic, social and financial support to enable them to complete their first year of college.

“The MSU CAMP program takes an innovative approach to working with students with unique needs,” Luis Alonzo Garcia, director of MSU Migrant Student Services, which oversees the MSU CAMP Scholars Initiative, said.  “Approximately 90 percent of the students recruited into the CAMP program never intended to go to college and are first-generation college students.  This program truly offers them an opportunity to completely change their lives.”

All CAMP students live in MSU’s Holden Hall, which houses the program, providing the students with easy access to faculty and staff.

“We maintain continuous engagement with these students throughout their first year at MSU,” Garcia said.  “Our goal is to ensure they are provided with the fundamental tools and skills needed to successfully negotiate their freshman year of college.  Additionally, we challenge all CAMP students to try new things and explore opportunities they never imagined would be available to them to ensure that they benefit from all that MSU has to offer.”

One of the many ways CAMP students are challenged to broaden their horizons is through a required study abroad trip to Mexico during their freshman year.

“It is imperative that we help our students become global citizens,” Garcia said.  “Through their participation in the International Engagement in Mexico study abroad experience, CAMP students learn about civic engagement in a cross-cultural context.  Instead of spending their spring break taking a vacation, these students participate in nine days of intensive community service in one of four cities in Mexico.” 

Garcia said he is proud of MSU’s CAMP program, which has produced more than 300 graduates over the past 15 years. 

“As the nation’s pioneer land grant university, MSU has always been at the forefront of agricultural education in America,” Garcia said.  “The CAMP program continues that tradition by helping families who have spent their lives working hands-on in agriculture realize the American Dream.  It teaches the children of our migrant and seasonal workers how to take risks in a smart way, paving the way for future generations.”

CAMP is one of several programs that fall under the direction of Migrant Student Services.  For more information, visit www.mss.msu.edu.