Graduates involved with the Migrant Education Program through Emporia Public Schools were treated to a reception in their honor Saturday.
The graduates and their families were recognized during the special event held at the Emporia Arts Council.
Students from migrant families often face additional barriers to academic success. Parents who work in agricultural jobs like planting and picking, meat processing or dairies have to move regularly. These moves can make it difficult for students to stay current on academic work. The Migrant Services program provides supports to help those students succeed.
“Many times people think parents don’t care about education because they don’t come to parent teacher conferences, but that isn’t the case,” Patricia Saenz-Reyes, migrant services specialist with Emporia Public Schools said. “Migrant families are so busy working that it is a barrier for them. They do care, but they are trying to work and provide. Being able to provide additional resources and supports is a given to success.”
Several students were recognized at Saturday’s reception. Some were graduating from Emporia High School and were accompanied to the event by their parents. Others were graduating from the adult education program, having obtained their high school diploma through a work-based program.
“We are completing our second year with the onsite classroom,” Saenz-Reyes said. “Last year we had seven graduates, they were all women. This year we have 12, and three were men.”
Saenz-Reyes said it is important for the families to celebrate their success and continue to make education a priority in their lives and in the lives of their children.
“Our program works with students from 3 to 21 years of age and we have adopted and taken on adult education because we feel it is that important,” Saenz-Reyes said. “You start early on with the little ones and then you work with the parents.”
The majority of the students who work with migrant services go on to continue their education. Many of those graduating this year are already enrolled at either Emporia State University or Flint Hills Technical College.
“One hundred percent of our students graduate from high school,” Saenz-Reyes said. “Most go on to obtain a technical degree or a four-year degree.”
Ramon Rivera graduated six years ago and came back to the event to speak with the graduates. While attending high school, Rivera also attended Flint Hills Technical College obtaining an associates degree in industrial engineering. He then went on to ESU and got his degree in computer systems. He has completed an internship with Koch Industries and is now working with a company in Kansas City. Rivera encouraged the students to continue pursuing their education.
Jodi Case, Mobilizing Literacy family liaison, also presented during the luncheon. She spoke to the impact education can make and how important early education is for children. She encouraged the graduates to develop relationships with others, invest in their children and work hard to learn at every opportunity.