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Catching up with CAMP’s Luis Rivas

Director of the College Assistance Migrant Program talks move to CESA and proven tactics for student success.

By Cory Phare

July 17, 2018

CAMP staff, left to right: Jesus Quintana, Raquel Jimenez, Evelynn Guzman De Leon, Luis Rivas.
CAMP staff, left to right: Jesus Quintana, Raquel Jimenez, Evelynn Guzman De Leon, Luis Rivas.

With Metropolitan State University of Denver’s College Assistance Migrant Program’s recent move into the Center for Equity and Student Achievement, we recently caught up with Luis Rivas, Ph.D., director of CAMP, to discuss how the change will enhance the program’s already-stellar work.

For those who aren’t familiar, what is CAMP?

CAMP is a grant-funded program that’s been at MSU Denver since 1999. Since that time, we’ve helped more than 500 students who are seasonal farmworkers start off with a solid foundation as they begin the first year of their college journey.

It works, too – we often see program completion rates of 90 percent or better, with many of our students going on to find success here at MSU Denver.

What do you attribute that success to?

We help students primarily in three ways. First, academically we support them through tutoring, peer mentoring and advising. We also assist in registering for courses and exploring different elements of major and minor selection. 

Secondly, we’re financial advocates – we’ll help students walk through the FAFSA and apply for scholarships, connecting them with external-funding sources and helping them access those that are population-specific.

Finally, we’re a social hub. We really try to establish a community and a sense of belonging. That takes the form of everything from welcome-back celebrations and pizza parties to exploring different cultural opportunities, such as going to the theater.

Could you tell me a bit about the move to CESA?

It’s a great move that creates a stronger network. Historically, there’s a lot of overlap – we were already connecting with programs like TRIO and Brother 2 Brother. We’ve done events with Immigrant Services, too. Doing similar work, it makes sense to now be part of the meetings and conversations all together.

Are there any perceptions of CAMP you’re like to clarify?

Because of the word “migrant,” there’s sometimes confusion around the population we serve. Our students often aren’t new immigrants. They can have families who might be migrating from places like Texas or Oklahoma to work in agricultural fields for a while. Once that season is exhausted, they might move on to other places, such as South Dakota or California.

This can disenfranchise students, moving often, going from school to school. However, when they are connected with the right resources, we see they’re very capable and can succeed academically. CAMP is here to do that, to empower students and their families, and to help them break out of cycles of poverty.

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