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Continuing and Innovative Education, The University of Texas at Austin

Outstanding Migrant Students Recognized at The University of Texas at Austin March 29

Outstanding high school migrant students from across Texas were recognized on March 29, 2010 at The University of Texas at Austin during the 23rd annual Exemplary Migrant Student Recognition Ceremony.

The ceremony honored Texas high school students who completed distance learning courses through the university’s Migrant Student Graduation Enhancement Program in Continuing & Innovative Education. The program provides flexible courses and support services that enable migrant students to meet or exceed high school graduation requirements while traveling with their families to harvest U.S. crops.

Texas has the largest interstate migrant student population and the second-largest migrant education program in the nation. Students and their families migrate annually from Texas to 48 other states to work in agricultural and other seasonal jobs.

“The success of these dedicated students reaffirms my belief that the Migrant Student Graduation Enhancement Program makes a difference in the lives of our students and their families,” said Dr. Linda Glessner, senior associate dean of Continuing & Innovative Education. “It opens the door of opportunity for these bright and gifted learners. I encourage each and every student to seek the highest level of education possible throughout their lifetime and give back to others in need. The Migrant Student Graduation Enhancement program is an investment in Texas’ youth, to help them achieve their big dreams.”

Forty exemplary migrant students were recognized during the ceremony. High school students Rogelio Ortiz of San Juan, Texas, and Sofia Velazquez of Edinburg, Texas, were named Exemplary Migrant Students of the Year during the ceremony. 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 Migrant Student Program.

Five students, including the two Exemplary Migrant Students of the Year, received a $2,000 college scholarship funded by a gift from the Exxon Mobil Foundation. The Exxon Mobil Foundation has given annual scholarships to the program since 2002. Texas State Representative Aaron Peña, D-Edinburg, presented the college scholarships to the students. For the first time this year, the winner of a creative award also received a scholarship. Rubi Valencia of Olton, Texas won the Creative Award. Carlissa Garcia of La Joya, Texas and Jacklyn Rodriguez of Eagle Pass, Texas won Top Exemplary Migrant Student honors.

Migrant students, their parents and educators representing 21 Texas school districts attended the ceremony. Guests from The University of Texas at Austin, the Texas Education Agency and the Texas Legislature also attended the event, which featured a performance by Mariachi Cocula, an Austin-based mariachi group.

Since it began more than two decades ago, the Migrant Student Graduation Enhancement Program has enrolled more than 25,000 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 the Beaumont Foundation of America, the Exxon Mobil Foundation, the John G. and Marie Stella Kenedy Memorial Foundation and the Microsoft Corporation, the program helps Texas migrant students earn high school credits through distance learning courses that meet Texas curriculum requirements.