November 15, 2007

CAMP counselor wins $10,000 prize for migrant program

Marcelina Fernandez, a CAMP outreach counselor and graduate student in counseling Marcelina Fernandez, a CAMP outreach counselor and graduate student in counseling

Christmas came early for the College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) when one of its counselors helped it win a $10,000 grant from a national cosmetics company.

Marcelina Fernandez, a CAMP outreach counselor and graduate student in counseling, won the grant from Maybelline New York after entering an Empowerment Through Education essay contest in People Magazine’s Spanish edition, People en Espanol.

“I was reading the magazine and saw a story about women who had done a lot for their communities,” she says. “I thought, ‘I’ve done a lot. I should nominate myself.’”

CAMP is a U.S. Department of Education program that provides educational and financial assistance to students from migrant and seasonal farm worker backgrounds who attend institutions of higher education. Sacramento State has one of only six CAMP programs in the state.

Fernandez wrote an essay about her involvement in CAMP, highlighting her activities in encouraging high school students to go to college. She says she didn’t think she would receive a reply, but about a month later, she received an e-mail from Maybelline congratulating her and saying she had won $10,000 for CAMP.

“Funny thing is, I didn’t read all the rules, so I didn’t know about the money, but I was ecstatic when I found out,” she says. “My boss was in a meeting, and I ran in and said ‘guess what? We’re getting $10,000.’ At first they were shocked, and then we went online to research if it was real or a fraud.”

The contest rules required her to select an organization to support. As a CAMP counselor and former CAMP student, the choice was easy.

“I chose CAMP because I know its values. It’s like being part of a big family,” she says. “You always want to give back.”

Fernandez says no decision has been made about how the money will be used, but she would like to help establish scholarships for students who are undocumented since they must pay out-of-state student fees.

On Nov. 1, she joined nine other essay winners from around the country for an awards luncheon in New York. She will also be featured in a December issue of People en Espanol.

For more information, contact the CAMP program at 278-7241.