Advocacy & Activism, Education, Grants and Funding

Michigan State University: Grant Helps Migrant Workers

From StateNews.com, Josh Mansour, 29 Sept 2011.

Noe Hernandez spent most of his life believing a degree was too expensive for him to achieve.
It wasn’t until he learned about MSU’s High School Equivalency Program, or HEP, that Hernandez realized he had an opportunity to pursue a degree.

On Wednesday, HEP, a program within MSU’s Migrant Student Services, received $2,000 from the Mexican government, along with books for students and families in financial need.

The program helps students whose families come from migrant or seasonal farming backgrounds, said Luis Garcia, director of Migrant Student Services.

Garcia said the average migrant or seasonal farm worker earns between $10,000 and $19,000 a year, making higher education seem unattainable.

“The majority of migrant and seasonal workers come from (a) lower economic background, so any help we can get is of extreme value,” he said. “Given that 90 percent of migrant and seasonal farm workers are from Mexican descent, the Mexican government sees a value in investing in these people.”

Vincente Sanchez, who serves as the consul of Mexico, said the growing number of Hispanic-Americans has drawn the interest of the Mexican government.

Sanchez, who delivered the money and books on Wednesday, said improving the level of education Mexican-Americans receive is critical.

“The government of Mexico is worried about the situation, and for that reason, we’re trying to give some money,” Sanchez said. “We need to have more leadership and education in the Latino community.”

Hernandez said HEP has given him a chance to complete his GED and offer greater financial support for his family.

“(I) wouldn’t have been able to finish (my) studies without the resources (from Migrant Student Services),” Hernandez said through an interpreter. “It’s very vital and important because (my) goal is to finish (my degree) so (I) can provide for (my) family and grandchildren.”

HEP student Elizeth Arias said her parents spent their lives working in the field and never received formal education. Because of the challenges they faced, Arias said her parents have been her biggest supporters in pursuing a degree.

“(My parents) want (me) to achieve (my) dream,” Arias said through an interpreter. “They don’t want (me) to struggle like they did in the field, and if (I) get a degree, (I’ll) be able to meet life’s challenges.”

Source: StateNews.com, “Grant helps migrant workers” by Josh Mansour, 29 Sept 2011.

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