July 26, 2007

Graduation ceremony celebrates
migrant workers’ achievements

More than 100 students in Sacramento State’s High School Equivalency Program will be honored in a graduation ceremony at 12:30 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 6, in the University Union Ballroom.
           
The University’s High School Equivalency Program provides GED preparation courses in both English and Spanish for migrant and seasonal farm workers. Though the program is housed on the Sacramento State campus, the classes are community-based with 10 locations in Yolo, Colusa and Sacramento counties. The program is year-round and open-entry/open-exit, which means students can begin and end classes on a schedule that is convenient for them.
           
Services to students in the program also include educational and career counseling, as well as assistance with job or postsecondary education placement.
           
“We host the annual graduation ceremony to recognize the dedication and sacrifices our students have made in order to earn their GEDs,” says Dianna Gutierrez, director of the federally-funded program. “Many of our students continue to work in the fields and canneries during the day as they dedicate their nights and weekends to classes and studying in order to take command of their futures.”
           
Carmen Tozano, a 1999 program graduate who earned a degree in early childhood development and now owns a child care center, will provide the ceremony’s keynote address. Other speakers include Sacramento State’s College of Education Dean Vanessa Sheared and Professor Nadeen Ruiz, chair of the Department of Bilingual Multicultural Education.
             
“Seventy-five percent of U.S. farm workers earn less than $10,000 a year,” says Gutierrez. “Without an increase in education attainment, farm workers experience low economic mobility.” On average, more than 60 percent of graduates each year are placed in postsecondary education programs, career positions, or the military.
           
The High School Equivalency Program was founded in 1993 with a grant from the U.S. Office of Migrant Education to the Cross Cultural Resource Center and the College of Education at Sacramento State.
           
For more information, contact the Sacramento State High School Equivalency Program at (916) 278-4956 or visit www.edweb.csus.edu/hep. For media assistance, contact the Sacramento State Public Affairs office at (916) 278-6156.