The University of Texas at Austin
  • Leading the charge for student success

    By Wayne Wenske, Continuing and Innovative Education
    Published: Sept. 16, 2011

    Luz Hinojosa

    Luz Hinojosa, Continuing and Innovative Education staff member Photo: Victoria Rivera

    Luz Hinojosa has spent most of her life on the migrant trail.

    From the time she was born until her junior year in college, she traveled each spring to California’s San Joaquin Valley with her family from their home in Mission, Texas, to clean cotton and pick grapes.

    Despite her constant mobility, Hinojosa was able to maintain her studies and graduate at the top of her high school class. She went on to graduate from St. Edward’s University with a double major in English Writing and Political Science. In 2010, she earned her master’s degree in public policy from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs.

    Hinojosa gives back to the migrant community through her work at the K-16 Education Center’s Migrant Student Graduation Enhancement Program, a division of Continuing and Innovative Education (CIE) at the university.

    CIE: What made you want to work for CIE’s Migrant Student Program?
    Hinojosa: I wanted to help migrant students stay in school and succeed. When I was in college, I was involved with helping migrant freshmen as they entered college. Before I graduated, I heard about the Migrant Student Program at UT. I found the program’s Web site and read about it. When I graduated college in December of 2003, I applied to work for CIE and I started work here in February of 2004. Not a day goes by that I do not appreciate the work that I do and the people who I work for.

    What do you think is the program’s biggest impact on migrant students?
    It helps these students believe that high school graduation is attainable. Even if they are moving around, working long hours, if they finish even one course through the program, it builds the confidence they need to finish high school. It gives them hope. They don’t have to fall behind or give up.

    Are there any specific student stories you would want to share?
    One student and family that jumps to mind is Erick Sanchez. He and his brothers Daniel and Nestor all met their goal of finishing high school in three years through our program. Even though they were working in the fields, they worked weekends and nights to finish school so they could help their family. We’ve also had many “students of the year” with incredible stories. Alexis Fernandez attended seven or eight high schools while traveling with his family. He was able to finish high school on time through our program. He’s now a Mechanical Engineering senior here at UT. Amanda Lira was living in a bus when she completed high school through our program. These students show incredible drive and commitment. Despite the obstacles in their lives, they still have that motivation to finish school to have better futures by choosing to go to college.

    This Q-and-A originally appeared on the CIE Web site.

    More about the Migrant Student Graduation Enhancement Program:

    The mission of the Migrant Student Graduation Enhancement Program is to help Texas migrant students graduate from high school by providing opportunities to earn credit at any time and any place. The program offers 42 distance learning courses that are aligned with the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills and help migrant students prepare for the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills.

    • Quote 2
      Charlie Valentine said on Dec. 19, 2011 at 12:19 p.m.
      What a fantastic tail of succeeding against the odds you are an inspiration to us all. Keep up the good work I can imagine many migrants do not believe it is possible to get a good education and hopefully the Migrant Program will help to educate a new generation.
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      Eduardo Carbone said on Sept. 29, 2011 at 8:01 p.m.
      Dear Luz: I graduated with a BBA from UT Austin in 1985. I congratulate you for your altruism. Have you helped migrants from El Salvador? If so, I thank you for aiding my fellow nationals who usually suffer greatly since leaving our homeland. ¡Que Dios te bendiga siempre y adelante con tu trabajo! Eduardo Carbone, San Salvador, El Salvador
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      Mark Cavazos, PE said on Sept. 29, 2011 at 9:12 a.m.
      Ms. Hinojosa, you are a true inspiration to the youth of Texas and migrant worker community. I wanted to let you know that I too come from that background of a migrant working family, and have traveled a similar path as yourself. It is great to know that the UT creed, "What Starts Here Changes the World" truely is put into motion, keep up the great work! HOOK'EM! (Class of 2003)
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      Andrea Zabcik said on Sept. 29, 2011 at 8:56 a.m.
      Luz, I think you are a wonderful person and an amazing spokesperson for the Migrant Program. I am proud to be associated with the K-16 Education Center and its programs.
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      Marco Portales said on Sept. 29, 2011 at 8:33 a.m.
      Great story on Luz Hinojosa. She a Valleyite fully engaged in educating the next generation! Todo lo mejor! Marco Portales (class of '70)
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      Waymon Jackson said on Sept. 29, 2011 at 5:21 a.m.
      I was pleased to read your story. I see so many kids these days with their silver spoons in their mouths and throwing their lives away. I also see those that struggle and make it, only to turn their backs on the people and culture that got them there. I am glad to see that after getting your piece of the pie, you are giving back and helping others. I wish their were more people like you.
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      Drina Talamas said on Sept. 28, 2011 at 8:55 a.m.
      Estimada Luz: Soy Arquitecta y Diseñadora de Interiores, recién he cambiado mi residencia a Austin, Tx., me siento muy orpgullosa de tu historia y me encantaría ver la posibilidad de colaborar contigo en ese programa tan importante. Creo que todos deberíamos involucrarnos en actividades que eleven nuestra vida social y educacional.Te mando un gran abrazo y espero consideres mi petición.
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      Shakera Ali said on Sept. 22, 2011 at 6:16 p.m.
      Keep up the great work!!! This story is so inspiring! It will be hard for many to come up with excuses after reading this article!
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      Julie McDevitt said on Sept. 22, 2011 at 7:18 a.m.
      Luz, You are an amazing person and are doing incredible things for students. It's been a pleasure getting to know you at the K-16 Center. Best of luck and I hope we can stay in touch! Sincerely, Julie
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      Dr. D. S. Gupt said on Sept. 21, 2011 at 12:00 a.m.
      I have gone through the activities as mentioned above. It is really doing a great job in the teaching -learning process. One should feel proud to be associated with such an institute as Texas--Dr. D. S. Gupt
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      Annette Noorzad said on Sept. 20, 2011 at 9:42 a.m.
      Ms. Hinojosa, I read your story and was so proud that you are part of the U.T. family. You should be totally commended for the work you do and for your family. You are a top notch individual to help those in need to find their way to a better life. My heart goes out to you and your family and wish you the best always. Keep up the wonderful work and know that we support you for everything you have done and are doing now. In 29 years of being at UT this has been the most touching and exhilarating story that I have ever read. Gad Bless You!
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