Middle-schoolers’ BSC visit is an eye-opener

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Middle school students in Decatur County’s Migrant Education Program recently toured Bainbridge State College’s main campus. Some came away with an eye-opening experience, but ultimately with the hope of pursuing a college education. From the left, front, are Bainbridge State Admissions Adviser Alex Byrd, Decatur County Federal Programs Director Kathy Varner, students Giovanni Gutierrez, Miguel Angel Mendoza, Javarus Bailey, Nadia Lerma, Rosa Perez-Hernandez and Anayeli Perez-Hernandez, Migrant Student Services Provider Maria Granados, Migrant Education Program Resource Specialist/Adolescent Outreach Specialist Nancy Trujillo, Migrant Student Services Provider Erika Mills and Bainbridge State Admissions Adviser Alan Killingsworth; back row, Omar Alejandro Gutierrez, Anayelly Navarro-Romero, Jonathan Ramirez-Vasquez, Francisco Navarro, Jessica Jimenez-Vasquez and Christian Peres-Salas.

Not every day can you offer middle-school students an eye-opening experience, but Nancy Trujillo says that is exactly what happened the day she brought her migrant education program students onto the campus of Bainbridge State College.

Bainbridge State recruiters recently gave students in the Decatur County program a tour of the main campus with the hopes those middle-schoolers will open their eyes to the possibilities of pursuing higher education instead of a more prevalent possibility of dropping out of high school.

“Some were like, ‘Wow, this is such a big place. We didn’t know we had this here in town’,” Resource Specialist/Adolescent Outreach Specialist Trujillo said were some of the comments she heard from her students following the tour, which was the first college campus tour she took her students on. “Some of them have never been on a college campus, so this was a big eye-opener for them.”

The resource specialist/adolescent outreach specialist with the Region 2 Migrant Education Program Office added: “So if we don’t catch them at an early age, like even in middle school, then we lose them.”

Trujillo knows.

She and her family were migrants beginning when she was 3 years old until she was 16 when her family settled in Seminole County. She had dropped out of school at 14 years old, but she went back to school when her dad said they were going to stay in Seminole County.

“I was the first one to graduate from high school out of three other siblings, and I was the first one to complete college. It’s not easy,” Trujillo said.

Trujillo said she wants the children she took to Bainbridge State to realize that college is not some far-off place, that it is not prohibitive, and that the beginnings of higher education are very much within reach of a her students’ dreams.

One of her students thought she had to move far away to go to college. Other students were awed with Bainbridge State’s Student Wellness Center and what it offers, and others were impressed with what activities and opportunities college life offers. The program is also trying to accurately inform the students’ parents on the possibility of their children pursuing college rather than working in the fields.

“I wish I would have had that opportunity. I would have finished college before I did because I would have known more,” Trujillo said. “I wish my parents would have been included. But my parents didn’t know and I didn’t know, so it made my completion harder.”

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