When eighteen year old Alfonso Lucio spoke to the New York Times, sitting in a dining hall at St. Edward’s University in 2012,
his life had just changed for the better. Lucio was no typical student. He grew
up as a migrant worker, laboring under the hot sun in Michigan’s asparagus
fields, alongside the rest of his family since he was 12 years old. Now a newly
minted college freshman, the future looked bright.
Lucio was one of three-dozen students given the opportunity to study at St. Edwards in 2012 through a federal program known as CAMP—the College Assistance Migrant Program. Around 3,000 migrant students at St. Edwards have benefitted from CAMP since the program began in 1972—receiving full tuition assistance and a network of academic and moral support. This is key for students who must leave their families behind after being relied on to contribute as breadwinners. “I had so many students coming in terribly upset, wanting desperately to be at the university, but needing to know their families were O.K. We were constantly calling home,” said Randa Safady, former director of CAMP at St. Edward’s and now the vice chancellor for external relations at the University of Texas System. “It’s something beautiful that they do at this school. Something unreal, very unreal,” Mr. Lucio told the New York Times.
And as it turns out, some things may just turn out to be too good to be true. This year, federal funding for CAMP was cut, and the program is in danger of disappearing. So St. Edward’s alumni, like Steve Shadowen, are answering the call to save CAMP and are going back to their college home to help.
In March 2015, Mr. Shadowen spoke at St. Edward’s Milestone Event, which united 130 students with 51 scholarship donors. Mr. Shadowen encouraged alumni and friends of the University to get involved in ensuring CAMP’s survival. St. Edward’s spends about $3.7 million in operating CAMP, drawn from its own operating budget, donations and until this year, a federal grant from the Department of Education of about $425,000. St. Edwards must now make up for the loss in federal funding.
“It’s an honor to be associated with such a compelling and successful scholarship program. I know from my time at St. Edward’s as a student, and now as a friend of the University, just how much the CAMP program enriches the entire University community. Helping these remarkable young people reach their dreams is a no-brainer,” said Mr. Shadowen.
“Just wait,” Alfonso Lucio would tell his cousin while picking asparagus in the fields of Michigan, “A few more years of this and then, we’re going to college.” Let’s hope that dream will continue to be attainable for the many hardworking young people who grew up producing our food and that so desperately need and deserve a helping hand. To learn more about St. Edward’s CAMP program and how you can help, visit them at: http://think.stedwards.edu/camp/