Wenatchee Migrant Specialist Program offers help for those in need

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According to the U.S Department of Agriculture as of 2012, Washington employs over 160,000 annually making the Migrant Education Program (MEP) in Washington, which is the third largest in the nation. Wenatchee, amongst Washington’s 51 school districts which have MEP programs, is ranked in the top 3. Wenatchee High School’s MEP is advised by David Vasquez and Lorena Pulido. According to Vasquez, there is a common misconception among students believe that the Migrant Education Program is reserved for Hispanic or Latino students; however, the program is open to a wide range of students from all cultures.

According to Vasquez there have been multiple occasions where they have attended conferences where there were a wide variety of students who weren’t of hispanic descent and still involved in the Migrant program. The Migration Program only requires a student to be involved in a work-related move, regardless of the distance, as long as the movement is connected to one of the three areas that meet the conditions for Washington’s MEP guidelines.

“Our program is for students who ‘migrate’ to or from Wenatchee. A student for example, can make a move from Wenatchee to Yakima for work-related reasons that are attached to agriculture, fishery or forestry, and still be considered a migrant. The distance does not need to be very large,” said Pulido. The MEP provides students with the ability to get one on one assistance from either advisor who both described their roles in students lives as a second counselor. Each year the MEP helps students in accordance with their grade, where freshman get assistance building their schedule and getting exposed to opportunities the students would not have known. As the student progresses towards the end of their high school year, their focus narrows towards graduating and their future.

According to Pulido the eventual goal of the program is to help students graduate from high school and set them up for success in the future creating connections that will help students succeed outside of school. The MEP offers advice to many students including those that do not qualify for the program; they are building a community of students who want to succeed and giving them a place where they can work together and build relationships.

“Many of the students love our room. Some of the students that come in aren’t even a part of the program, we’re busting at the seems in here, it’s a space for them to unwind or work with their peers. I believe that they feel comfortable in our room because every individual has something in common with them and they can connect to one another,” said Vasquez. Vasquez’s passion for helping his students stems from past experiences that have inspired him to share what he has learned with students to help push them to succeed. He has gone through similar situations as the students in his past where he felt that if he has been aware of the wide variety of opportunities he could have accomplished more.

“I want to help these students to obtain that connection,” said Vasquez. The MEP program is an intricate piece of WHS support systems, according to Pulido, there are an over 300 migrant students that qualify for their program. Each case is different to them, and they are open to inquiries on one’s qualifications. According to Vasquez no student in the Migrant program can receive help without reciprocating the effort, it is fundamental that a student work hard for their graduation.

“As long as the students work hard and reciprocate the amount of effort we give to them, we help them out the best we can, we want to share our knowledge and expose them to the options they have to give them hope,” said Vasquez.

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