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CAMP Dare to Dream Academy Inspires Migrant High School Students

High school students and mentors at the Dare to Dream AcademyThe University of Washington campus was home to 52 migrant high school students from across the state during OMA&D’s College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) Dare to Dream Academy, June 24-29. For one week, students experienced college life and were exposed to resources for pursuing higher education.

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The academy included team building activities, workshops, speakers, departmental exploration sessions, admissions and financial aid presentations, and lectures. Several activities were held in partnership with the UW College of the Environment and UW School of Medicine, allowing students to have hands-on experience in a variety of fields. The week was capped off by a tour of the R/V Thomas G. Thompson, a research vessel owned by the U.S. Navy and operated by the UW, and a closing dinner with participants and their families.

High school students construct a rocket
High school students construct a rocket for a demonstration launch.

The Dare to Dream Academy was made possible by $93,819 grant through the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. CAMP is a federally-funded program designed to assist first-year college students from migrant and seasonal farm worker families pursue higher education.

According to CAMP director Luz Iniguez, the students accomplished a great deal in a short amount of time. When asked at the beginning of the week how many students considered themselves leaders, only five raised their hands. By the end of the week, that number had changed drastically.

“These are the students who have the highest risk of not graduating from high school, and to see what they have achieved in just four and a half days has been great,” Iniguez said.

Students and mentors participate in a team building activity.
Students and mentors participate in a team building activity.

“Talking to a couple of students here, they came in not really knowing what they want to do career-wise, or even if they are going to finish high school,” UW junior and CAMP mentor Karissa Sanchez said. “A lot of them, throughout the course of the program as we took them to different departments, said ‘I like this, I want to do this, I can see myself doing this, tell me how to get here.’ It’s been very inspiring to see them grow into their potential.”

Sanchez was one of several UW students who served as CAMP mentors and spent the week with the high school students. Coming from a migrant background and being the oldest child in her family, Sanchez has taken on a lot of responsibility at home, a situation many of the high school students could relate to.

“Going through the week, I’ve really seen how liberating it can be to share your struggles with somebody and say ‘you know what, I have that in common with you,’” Sanchez said. “I feel really privileged that we’ve built a strong trust relationship. They have expressed things to me, some really profound, deep, heavy stuff, after knowing each other for just days. It is really special.”

Agustin Garcia conducts an experiment on the Thompson ship.
Agustin Garcia conducts an experiment on the Thompson ship.

“The mentors have been really great,” Wapato High School sophomore Agustin Garcia said. “Each one of them is here to help us and whatever question we had, they were there to answer it. It felt like we had a lot of support and care.”

In addition to bonding with the mentors, Garcia also forged strong friendships with other high school students from across the state and came away with a better idea of the career he would like to pursue.

“The reason for this program is to tell ourselves that the students – migrant students – have many opportunities out there,” he said. “We just have to be striving for the best and want that hunger for a great education.”