Located in upstate New York,
The State University of New York College at Oneonta is located in the small city of Oneonta with an enrollemnt size of about 6,000 students.
College Assistance Migrant Program
CAMP is a federally funded scholarship program designed for students from migrant and farming backgrounds to provide them with support academically and financially throughout their first year of college as first generation bilingual speakers, with the goal of making the transition into college easier and more successful. This program provides involved students with resources to aid in beginning higher education as well as providing a valued experience with their peers. There are 51 projects across the United States, with the program at SUNY Oneonta being the only of its kind in New York.
Spanish Heritage Speakers in Rural NY & the Migrant Farmers Education Program by M.C. Montoya, Ph.D.
At SUNY-Oneonta, we count on an expanding student rural population of Spanish heritage speakers. Enrollments have increased during the last decade, due to purposely institutionalized initiatives to diversify the college student population. Key support programs for increased Hispanic enrollments have been the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) and the College Assistant Migrant Program (CAMP), the latter being extremely active in recruiting rural Spanish heritage students. The CAMP program runs on a five-year-term federal government grant that assists students who are ready to attend college, and who at some point in their lives have been either migrant farmers themselves or children of migrant farmers. The recruitment of this population is accomplished with the assistance of the nine Migrant Education Tutorial and Support Services (METS) programs existing across the state. The farming zones vary from fruits, grape-wineries, vegetables, poultry, meat, and dairy products (cf. Figure 1). The participants in the current study come from zones 1, 2, 5, 7, and 8, shown in the map in Figure 1 (above).
The purpose of the NYS migrant education program is to assist families who work in various farming occupations throughout the state. The assistance consists of school support for children in the form of English Language Learning (ELL) programs, tutoring in any subject at school, and an overall educational advocacy between the families and the school personnel. The various tutors across the state communicate with the CAMP college recruiter, who travels to meet the adolescents who are ready to enroll in higher education. These students are often identified two years before high school graduation and financial aid guidance to parents starts early. Students are also advised about school performance and tests required to be admitted to the college. CAMP is independent from NY METS; only students with legal resident or citizenship status are eligible to be part of CAMP, whereas any family, regardless of their documentation status, can receive assistance from METS if they qualify as migrant workers. CAMP-recruited students are then guided by an academic advisor and a counselor throughout their first year at college. The CAMP director establishes a close relationship with the EOP program and guarantees that support continues as students advance into their second year and toward graduation. This information is relevant for the current study because it demonstrates the support given to these students and encouragement to explore academic Spanish language as part of their professional careers.
Recently, social science research has revealed new migration patterns in the U.S. mainland. The work by Jones (2008), “Immigrants outside Megalopolis, Ethnic Transformation in the Heartland,” describes how different groups of new immigrants after the 1990s have shifted away to non-megalopolitan areas. Jones argues that this geographic dispersion creates more than just new cultural landscapes as immigrants adjust to environments that historically have been less ethnically diverse. He discusses the implications for socio-economic integration in the rural landscape. Although job opportunities and social climate can be challenging for these immigrants, there are strong attractions to rural small towns with growing or transforming economies. Rural areas offer more opportunities for working and earning a comfortable lifestyle that have become more difficult to obtain in crowded and expensive urban areas, where there is more competition for jobs and the cost of real estate is higher. In addition to this economic factor, small towns offer the tranquility to raise a family. Rural immigrants in the current study expressed that among the reasons to remain in rural areas are easier supervision of their children in small settings and more opportunities for their children to be involved in affordable extracurricular activities. However, along with the tranquility of the town comes isolation from family members and lack of a larger ethnic social network. This is cited in the current research by the household immigrants as the main difficulty of settling in a rural area. If the immigrant remains single or does not integrate within the larger community, then it is likely that he or she eventually will leave the area. (For an extended description of Hispanic settlement in rural settings, see Montoya and Leung 2016.)
Montoya, Maria C. and Leung, Ho Hon. 2016. Hispanic Settlement in Rural Settings:The Role of Language in Adaptation. Readings in Language Studies A Critical Examination of Language and Community. Chamness Miller, P., Rubrecht B.G, Mikulec, E.A, Tsuyoshi McGivern, C., Eds. A publication of the International Society of Language Studies, Inc. Vol 6. (167-195).
Jones, Richard.C. 2008 (ed). Immigrants Outside Megalopolis; Ethnic Transformation in the Heartland. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.
New York Migrant Program. 2007-2015. Downloadable at https://www.nysmigrant.org/about.
SUNY Oneonta, 108 Ravine Pkwy, Oneonta, NY 13820.