October 20, 2014

VSU Hosted College Day Experience for Migrant High School Students

VALDOSTA – Valdosta State University hosted approximately 170 migrant students and family members for a College Day Experience program Saturday, Oct. 18. The day’s events included informative sessions with representatives from Admissions, Air Force ROTC, Financial Aid, Student Success Center, Centralized Advising, Math Department, Latino America Student Association, and Modern and Classical Languages. The students and family members were given a tour of the campus and lunch in Palms Dining Center.

“The goal of this program was to educate students and their families about the accessibility and support higher education has to offer," said Ryan Hogan, associate director of VSU’s Office of Admissions. “We showcased Valdosta State University but the main objective was to show the students the transformational power education can have on their life.”

The students represented 20 school districts in South Georgia, including Appling, Wayne, Decatur, and Dooly counties.

“This gives our students and families hope and a brief understanding about what a college or university is about, it makes them feel special and gives them a tiny view of what college is about,” said Israel Cortez, regional coordinator of the Georgia Department of Education Region 2 Migrant Education Program Office. “For many students this is about the only opportunity that they have to step onto a university campus, for many it is an eye opening experience.”

Cortez explained that a part of the Migrant Education Program mission is to provide migrant students with information about attending college and encourage them to continue their education after high school.

“We wanted these bright and smart students to have an opportunity to experience a visit like this and to develop the hunger, which they already have to want to go beyond and seek a professional career or a college degree so that they can break the migrant cycle,” Cortez said. “We also wanted our parents to know that education is the ticket out of the migrant cycle, no parent wants to see their children in the fields for the rest of their lives, they are already doing it themselves so they know what it is like to be in the sun all day.”

Cortez understands the importance of a college degree, as a child of migrant farmworkers, he was ten years old when his family fled Mexico in search of a better life and more educational opportunities in America. He graduated from VSU with a bachelor’s degree in foreign language education and a master’s degree in education in educational leadership. Cortez has received his American citizenship and continues to work to help other migrant families realize that an education is a pathway to a better life.

This is the second year that VSU has hosted a visitation day for migrant students and their families.  In previous years the university hosted the Georgia Migrant Education Program Conference, which provided information about VSU programs and admission process to educators throughout the state.

For more information, contact Ryan Hogan at 229-333-5791 or rmhogan@valdosta.edu.