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Golf tournament to benefit migrant scholarship

Proceeds from the upcoming SUNRIPE Golf Classic will fund USF scholarships for migrant workers pursuing degrees in education.

Saturday’s SUNRIPE tournament is the 10th annual. In the past, this fundraising event has generated more than $1.1 million for migrant education scholarships.

The Sunripe scholarship, which began in 2000, has been awarded to 40 students, said Ann Cranston-Gingras, director of the USF Center for Migrant Education.

As long as they meet its criteria, applicants receive the scholarship, she said.

Candidates must be from a migrant family and be eligible for acceptance as undergraduates at the University. Scholarship recipients must declare a major under the College of Education.

Students must also submit a brief written summary of their experience with migrant work, a written statement of professional goals and at least two letters of recommendation.

Cranston-Gingras said that 13 students received the program’s scholarship this year and that the organization will determine how many scholarships are awarded for next year after the SUNRIPE tournament.

The program benefits the migrant community because educated students often return to work in migrant jobs, Cranston-Gingras said.

“With their migrant background, they have a whole different understanding of the struggles these students face,” she said.

Natashia Vasquez, a recipient of the scholarship and a senior majoring in secondary English education, said she is touched that there is a program specifically for migrant workers.

“It’s nice to think that someone wants to help out the migrant community,” Vasquez said.

She said she wants to go back to work with members of the migrant community to show them success is possible.

Vasquez said she was saddened to discover the negative attitudes many students had when she volunteered for the USF High School Equivalency Program, which allows students from migrant families to learn from USF students and professors.

“Most of the kids, usually the males, have this mentality that they can’t do anything,” she said. “They think that since they are migrant workers they can’t do anything. I would get close to these students and tell them, ‘No, it’s possible. Look at me — I’m a migrant and I’m going to school and I’m going to graduate.'”

Vasquez said she heard about the program when she applied for a College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) scholarship, a grant from the U.S. Department of Education that rewards migrant students for earning high grades and assists them financially during their first year of college.

After Vasquez talked to CAMP coordinator Patrick Doone and showed an interest in the field of education, he told her about the scholarship for migrant students.

Cranston-Gingras said the SUNRIPE scholarship helps students in multiple aspects of their lives: financially, academically and even socially, because recipients get the opportunity to meet other students from similar backgrounds.