CSUSM alumna Karina Gonzalez is a graduate student at Harvard studying biotechnology. Interested in becoming a professor of biology, she hopes to one day accomplish her ultimate goal of receiving a Nobel Prize for making a scientific discovery to help humankind.

She attributes her academic success to the support she received at CSUSM through the College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP), which was just awarded a $425,000 U.S. Department of Education, Office of Migrant Education grant. The grant is expected to be renewed for five years and total $2,125,000.

“My CAMP experience made it easier for me to feel secure and do well in school,” Karina said. “It would have been difficult for me to adapt to the university setting without that additional help.”

CAMP launched as a national grant program nearly forty years ago. Established at CSUSM in 2002, it is only one of eight offered in California and the only one in San Diego County. Annually serving 45 freshmen from migrant and seasonal farmworker backgrounds, CAMP provides pre-college transition and first-year support services to help students develop the skills needed to stay in school and successfully graduate from college. Providing a family-like atmosphere, CAMP students take classes and study together, share housing, socialize and participate in team-building and other special activities.

“Without programs like CAMP, students from farmworking families would be less likely to attend college let alone persist towards a college degree,” said Minerva Gonzalez, CAMP director at CSUSM. “The frequent mobility of their families who follow the crops put the students at a disadvantage due to the disruption of their education. Add to that the economic challenges and health issues, it is a considerable accomplishment to graduate from high school and meet the admission requirements of the CSU and UC system."

To Gonzalez, these students epitomize the words of Cesar Chavez, "si se puede," meaning, “it can be done.”

“Compared to the local and statewide persistence rates that average 70 percent for freshmen college students, CAMP students are excelling at a rate of 90 percent,” Gonzalez explained. “Student success rates are elevated as a result of the program’s seamless transition from high school to university life, sustainable academic progress practices and service opportunities that integrate students into the campus community.”

For more information, visit CAMP at CSUSM.

“Compared to the local and statewide persistence rates that average 70 percent for freshmen college students, CAMP students are excelling at a rate of 90 percent,” explained Minerva Gonzalez, CAMP director at CSUSM. “Student success rates are elevated as a result of the program’s seamless transition from high school to university life, sustainable academic progress practices and service opportunities that integrate students into the campus community.”