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CSUMB gets federal grant to help out students who are seasonal farmworkers

SEASIDE, Calif. (KION-TV)- A local university is getting much-needed support to help farmworker families.

U.S. Congressman Jimmy Panetta announced that a nearly $475,000 grant will be going to California State University Monterey Bay. In a statement, Panetta's office said the money will be coming from the U.S. Department of Education's Collège Assistance Migrant Program known as CAMP.

The CAMP Funds are dedicated to helping students who are seasonal farmworkers and their immediate families.

While Yesenia Rios is working hard in school, her parents are working hard in the fields to help her accomplish her goals.

"I'm also like looking like the guinea pig for my younger sister who's going into college next, or this fall. And so for them, it is definitely, heartbreaking and nervous," said Rios who is a first-year student at CSUMB.

Yesenia is a freshman at CSU Monterey Bay and hopes to receive her degree in marine science.

"I was nervous at first because it is like, a huge step," said Rios. "And because, like, I was coming alone, I didn't know anyone, so, like, I was just like. It was like it was a whole new experience,"

Being the first in her family to attend school, Yesenia relies and resources the college assistance migrant program or camp CSUMB provides.

The camp program is designed to help students with seasonal farmworker backgrounds succeed in school. Yesenia says has been a lifeline since she started her schooling in college.

Now, students like Yesenia will receive more support after their college receives $475,000 from the US Department of Education for the CAMP program.

"As a first-generation student myself, these programs have been essential in my college career," said Reyna Corrales, an Advisor and recruitment specialist for early outreach and support programs.

"That's really about supporting students that are from migrant farmworker backgrounds. So, continuing to have that funding was really important for us to be able to continue providing the support, not just academically," said Elizabeth Mihopoulos.

This program is just for first-year students. Reyna Corrales who is an advising recruitment specialist says she sees a lot of first-year students with farmworking backgrounds drop out of school because of challenges she says can be resolved with help from the camp program.

"It gets harder for them to continue," said Corrales. "And not that because they don't want to, but, you know, having financial insecurities and facing, being first generation and learning how to navigate systems like these could be really, tough for some of us."

This money will go towards counseling, tutoring, skill workshops, financial aid, health, and housing assistance for these students.

"Being able to provide that initial support for students is important to setting them off on the right foot," said Mihopoulos.

Around 40 students are currently in the camp program. I asked if there is any help for students who are not in their first year, Reyna said they have the TRIO SSS most people in the camp program can qualify for.

In a statement from U.S. Congressman Jimmy Panetta, he says:
"Our migrant farmworker community is deeply enmeshed in California’s 19th congressional district and I’m proud to work alongside CSUMB to open up opportunities and pathways to achievement for these families.”

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Derrick Ow

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