Armando Garza and Xavier Zamora named Exemplary Migrant Students of the Year
4/16/2013High school students Armando Garza from Donna and Xavier Zamora, from Robstown were named “Students of the Year” on Monday, April 15, 2013, by the Migrant Student Graduation Enhancement Program at The University of Texas at Austin. Each student received a $2,000 college scholarship funded by a gift from ExxonMobil. The Exemplary Migrant Students of the Year were selected on the basis of obstacles overcome, overall academic achievements, participation and leadership in extracurricular activities, and performance in distance learning courses offered by the university's Migrant Student Program.
Look for an upcoming blog story with video and photo gallery from this year's event!
Armando and Xavier were among 40 migrant students honored at the Texas Union Ballroom for their exemplary achievements during the university’s 26th annual Exemplary Migrant Student Recognition Ceremony. The event was attended by approximately 250 guests, including migrant students from 20 Texas school districts. More than 1,800 Texas migrant students are completing their high school graduation requirements this year through the program, which is administered by the K–16 Education Center.
“It is my great honor to welcome all 40 Exemplary Migrant Students of 2013 to our campus. This event gives us the opportunity to give these students a glimpse of campus life here at the university and to encourage them to continue their education beyond high school,” said Jeff Treichel, executive director, ad interim, for CIE. “I am so proud of each of them for the hard work and dedication they have shown to excel in their academics while migrating. I hope to see them again on our campus – as college students of The University of Texas at Austin.”
Armando Garza remembers beginning to migrate to Plymouth, Indiana, and Vero Beach, Florida, as a young child. In the fields of Indiana, Armando picked tomatoes and cucumbers and detasseled corn. In Florida, Armando picks citrus fruits. Because of his constant migrations, Armando has frequently experienced interruptions to his education. To stay current with his credits, Armando attends summer school at Plymouth High School, and enrolls in distance learning courses from the Migrant Student Program at Donna High School. Thanks to his dedication, Armando will graduate as salutatorian with a 99.9 grade average. He has prepared himself for a college education by enrolling in honors and Advanced Placement math and science courses.
Although Armando is committed to his academic studies, he also feels a heavy responsibility to help his peers succeed academically. To fulfill this responsibility, Armando tutors other migrant students and volunteers with Generation Texas, an organization that helps students with the college application and financial aid process. Armando also plays tennis with the varsity tennis team. He is a member of the National Honor Society and serves as the organization’s Student Council representative. In addition, Armando has participated in the Close-Up Program and is a member of the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) club.
Armando plans to attend college after graduation. He has already been accepted to Texas A&M University and Baylor University. Armando has also applied to Stanford University, Yale University and The University of Texas at Austin. He hopes to become a biomedical engineer.
Every December, Xavier Zamora migrates from his home in Robstown, Texas, to Falfurrias and McAllen, Texas, to pick watermelons, oranges and onions. As a senior at Robstown High School, Xavier challenges himself with rigorous courses such as Calculus and Advanced Architectural Engineering. He has earned a 4.18 grade point average and will graduate in the top 20 percent of his class.
Because of his interest in mathematics and engineering, Xavier has participated as a member of the University Interscholastic League (UIL) Accounting and Computer Science teams, which earned the district champion title. He has also attended engineering camp at Texas A&M University in Kingsville, Texas, where he learned the basics of different engineering fields at the university level. Xavier has competed in the Junior Engineering Technical Society Camp at The University of Texas at Brownsville. Xavier is also an active member of the Future Farmers of America (FFA), and he showcases meat goats and competes in welding competitions at the livestock show. He has also helped the Robstown High School baseball team win the district championship title. An active member of his church, Xavier attends retreats and volunteers in his community for Special Olympics events, holiday caroling and nursing home visits.
Xavier plans to become a petroleum engineer. He is considering several universities including The University of Texas at Austin, The University of Texas at San Antonio, Texas State University, Texas A&M University Kingsville and St. Edward’s University.
In addition to the scholarships awarded to Armando and Xavier, scholarships were also awarded to Edna Gaytan from La Joya High School in La Joya, and Jasmine Leos from Lopez High School in Brownsville, as the Exemplary Migrant Students who received academic honors. Ivan Ramirez from Edinburg North High School in Edinburg also received a scholarship as the recipient of the Migrant Student Program’s Creative Award. All five scholarships were provided by a gift from ExxonMobil, which has provided annual scholarships to the program since 2002.
Texas has the second-largest migrant education program and the largest interstate migrant student population in the nation. Students and their families migrate annually from Texas to 47 other states to work in agricultural and other seasonal jobs.
Since it began more than two decades ago, the Migrant Student Graduation Enhancement Program has enrolled more than 26,000 students in its mission to increase the graduation rate of high school migrant students in Texas. With funding from the Texas Education Agency and gifts from ExxonMobil and the Guadalupe and Lilia Martinez Foundation, the program helps Texas migrant students earn high school credits through distance learning courses that meet Texas curriculum requirements.