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CAMP transforms communities

New Mexico State University’s College Assistance Migrant Program is a federally funded program assisting students around the country who are seasonal farm and ranch workers, or students who are children of those workers. The program has provided students with post-secondary educational opportunities to help them succeed. Opportunities include outreach to those who are eligible, tutoring, counseling, skills workshops, housing assistance and financial aid stipends. The funding also supports the completion of a CAMP student’s first year of studies. 

CAMP students Fatima Oliveros, Mauricio Muñoz and Daniel Gomez talk and hangout in the CAMP office inside Milton Hall. (Photo by Xavier McCombs/Kokopelli)

On July 1, 2022, the program received a $2.4 million, five-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Migrant Education.

According to Martha Estrada, NMSU CAMP director, recent funding has allowed the program to implement additional health components for students. 

“We have been on this campus for 21 years and now and we’re funded to remain on this campus for a total of 25, up until 2027,” Estrada said. “We’ve done a lot, and I would want to say that we’ve even transformed communities … the farmer communities of southern New Mexico.”

CAMP student council President Fatima Oliveros shared that being a part of the program is the only way she would’ve been able to attend college. 

“I knew about the scholarships, but I didn’t think that I would make it with only the NMSU scholarships,” Oliveros said.

Entering the program allowed Oliveros to create different connections with faculty, staff and other CAMP students.

“We’ve done a lot, and I would want to say that we’ve even transformed communities … the farmer communities of southern New Mexico.”

CAMP student council Vice President Mauricio Muñoz was recruited to the program during his senior year of high school. 

“[CAMP] helps me financially, socially, they help me with work, they help me find a job. They help me with a lot of things that I can be grateful for,” Muñoz said.

The program is also important to CAMP student council Treasurer Daniel Gomez. 

“Coming to college was a really big decision for me, and finding a place to find help and support,” Gomez said. “And I found that place here within the CAMP program. And being part of student council allows me to give back with the support that they have given me.”

CAMP’s mission at NMSU is to recruit, retain and graduate student farmworkers. According to CAMP’s principal investigator and NMSU professor Cynthia Bejarano, the CAMP program at NMSU stands out among other CAMP programs nationwide.

“Another thing we have helped to do in these 21 years is to make visible the students that come to New Mexico State,” Bejarano said. “Recently, there has been a big movement to recognize first-generation students, but this particular community, and who the university serves goes even beyond that.”

Students who may be eligible for CAMP can apply online. To stay up to date about CAMP news and events, visit the NMSU CAMP facebook page. 

Hannah Hunter contributed to this report. 

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