More than 75 students from across Pennsylvania were honored May 27 for graduating from the Education Department’s migrant-education program.
“This program embodies the mission of the department; ensuring that each and every student, regardless of economic or ethnic background, receives the quality education they deserve,” Education Secretary Gerald L.Zahorchak said. “These students have overcome significant barriers in their pursuit of education and a bright future. They, and everyone who works with them, should be commended for their hard work. They are an inspiration.”
Since its inception, the Pennsylvania Migrant Education Program has served more than 350,000 migrant students in 200 districts. During the 2006-07 school year, the program aided more than 8,000 students; more than 3,500 participated in the program last summer.
This year, 106 students graduated from the migrant education program. Nearly 60 percent of the graduates plan to pursue higher education, while others plan to enter the workforce or join the military.
In operation since 1967, the program is state- and federally-funded and helps local school districts coordinate educational continuity programs for children of migrant workers. The average migrant family moves three to five times annually. Migrant education program students are 90 percent Latino, 6 percent Asian, 3 percent White, and 1 percent African-American.
Raymundo Alfaro Aco, a graduate from Lancaster who will attend Swarthmore College on a full scholarship, said, “Leadership defies a concrete definition and is best understood as an action, the willingness to stick to one’s ideas and goals, to persevere in the face of great adversity. My life and the lives of most people who come from a different country are full of obstacles, and those who are able to overcome them become leaders and models for our communities.”
Keynote speaker Manuel Ibarra, an alumnus of the program, said: “All of you are considered to be the ‘underdogs.’ Therefore, you have to study twice or even four times as hard to prove to others that you are capable and that you belong, wherever you choose to pursue your dreams and a college degree. I believe this generation, your generation, will continue breaking the cycle of ignorance.”
In addition to Alfaro Aco, student speakers for the program, with hometown and college choice, were:
— Katherine Andujar, Lackawanna County; Pennsylvania State University
— Chan Mony Mao, Philadelphia County; Pennsylvania State University
— Angelica Zavala, Adams County; Central Pennsylvania College
Governor Edward G. Rendell’s proposed education budget for 2008-09 provides $1.2 million for migrant education. In addition to the program, many migrant education students participate in the state’s education assistance program, which provides tutoring support to struggling students.
During the 2008-09 school year, $66 million was provided for the education assistance program and more than 92,000 students received tutoring. This year’s proposed budget also maintains funding at $66 million.
For more information about the migrant education program, visit http://www.pde.state.pa.us/
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