Migrant Student Program 25th Anniversary: Alexis Fernandez
In 2012, the Migrant Student Graduation Enhancement Program celebrates its 25th Anniversary at The University of Texas at Austin. Since its inception in 1987, the Migrant Student Program has helped approximately 18,000 migrant students earn high school credits by providing distance learning services and courses. The program helps these students achieve and maintain scholastic levels equivalent to those of their classmates who remain in school throughout the year. Students of the Migrant Program are able to stay on track with their studies and graduate on time. Many of the students in the program represent the first high school graduates in their families, and many go on to become college graduates.
To commemorate the 25h Anniversary, we will feature profiles of former Migrant Student Program students on this blog, leading up to the 2012 ceremony on April 2 at the university's Etter-Harbin Alumni Center. In our first 25th Anniversary profile, we present a video interview with Alexis Fernandez, Migrant Student of the Year in 2006.
By the time he was 11 years old, Alexis Fernandez was working with his parents in the crop fields of California, Illinois and Texas as a migrant farm worker. “My memories of carrying heavy loads of tomatoes and grapes to awaiting trucks, feeling like there was no more sweat left in me, have left a lasting effect on my way of looking at the world and the value of education,” says Alexis.
Despite the hardship of a migrant worker’s life, Alexis excelled academically thanks in part to the Migrant Student Program. As a graduating senior at James “Nikki” Rowe High School in McAllen, Texas, Alexis was ranked 15th among 451 graduating seniors, placing him in the top three percent of his class. He graduated under the Distinguished Achievement Plan with a grade average of 93. During high school, he took honors courses as well as Advanced Placement courses and earned 33 college credits.
Alexis went on to graduate from college with a degree in Mechanical Engineering from The University of Texas at Austin in May 2011. During his years at the university, he served as president of the Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity and vice president for the United Greek Council.
During his college years, Alexis remained involved with the Migrant Student Program, volunteering numerous times to speak to migrant high school students and conduct campus tours. He became an employee of the program during his junior year. “The migrant program has impacted me in so many ways. It is made up of people who want to see me succeed," says Alexis. "But I’ve also been able to give back to the program and help make sure that other students succeed. The migrant program really reaches out to these students and makes a difference in their lives.”
Alexis recently left his job at the Migrant Student Program to start work full time as an Engineer for Samsung Semiconductors in Austin. Alexis says, “I’m really excited to work for Samsung Semiconductors, manufacturing processing chips. To start my engineering career with such an established company is great.”
Stay tuned to this blog for further 25th Anniversary updates on former students of the Migrant Student Program.