They came to Cal Poly Pomona to experience life on a university campus and learn how to put their math and science skills to the test.
And after completing the week-long summer Migrant Education Program, the 340 middle and high school students who participated had mastered robotics, learned the physics of roller coasters on a field trip to Disney’s California Adventure and navigated living on a college campus.
Besides math and science, the program, which provides supplemental educational opportunities for the children of migrant workers, also included computer coding class, team building and recreational activities for the participants, and a Family Day event aimed at sharing information with parents on college readiness, the importance of preparation during high school and facts about financial aid and scholarships. The program ended Aug. 12.
During a recent Family Day, parents crowded around their children with camera phones in the air, as the student teams pitted their Lego robots against one another in battle. Lisa Lucio, director of the Migrant Education Program, says this marks the second year parents have been invited to see the program up close.
“It’s a big hit,” Lucio says. “The parents are very excited to visit a university and to see their children participate in classes that are taught by university professors. One parent mentioned to me that no one has ever offered this type of opportunity to family members before. . .the mom said it was a ‘life-changing experience.’”
Lucio founded the program, which is run by the College of Extended University, nine years ago, teaming up with College of Engineering professors Mariappan Jawaharlal and Victor Okhuysen.
The Department of Education provides grant funding to 24 migrant education regions statewide to serve families. More than 102,348 migrant students are eligible for services in 565 school districts across the state, according to the California Department of Education website.
The funding is used to provide supplemental programs for migratory students, who, similar to children in foster care, move often.
“They have a tendency to lose interest in school because they get behind,” Lucio says. “The goal is to keep them interested in staying in school and going beyond high school and into college. In addition to academics, the students learn life skills including how to apply for college, ways to take advantage of university resources like the Learning Resource Center and the Career Center, as well as student groups and clubs,” she says, adding that they also receive mentoring from former Cal Poly Pomona students.
Cathedral City resident Mariangel Bustos, who will start seventh grade in the fall, says she enjoyed being introduced to robotics and engineering so much that she is thinking about pursuing engineering when she goes to college.
“Being on a college campus has helped me think about my future,” she says. “Coming here to Cal Poly Pomona kind of cleared a path.”
Indio seventh grader Kellen Miranda says she liked being on a college campus for the first time.
“It helped me to see how hard and frustrating college can be, but that it is possible,” she says.
Jose Arriaga, who came to Family Day to support his son Emanuel, says the campus tour helped show him the possibilities that come with education.
“That’s why I come and I push him,” says the Desert Hot Springs resident. “He has opportunities here that I never had when I was young.”