From the Fields to College

August 21, 2009 10:35:57 PM PDT
While many Valley students went back to school this week, another group is graduating Friday night. For many of them-- it's a second chance at a life-long dream that may take them out of the fields and into a college classroom.It's a day Elizabeth Guzman thought would never come ... At the age of 25 she will finally get to wear a cap and gown ... and graduate after completing a high school equivalency program.

The program is sponsored by SER-Jobs for Progress. It helps adult migrant and seasonal farm workers obtain their GED. Students attend a 16-week class in the evenings-- usually after work.

"Some of them come straight from the fields into the class," said program director Alejandra Juarez.

Juarez says attending class consistently often requires a big sacrifice. But many of the parents enrolled, like Guzman who attended class while pregnant with daughter Ingrid, want to set a good example to their children ... and improve their way of life.

"If their children see them study and making the sacrifice of getting a better education in this country then those children are going to follow their parents," said Juarez.

The goal is to increase their job opportunities and get students enrolled in higher education. This year the program will graduate 192 students-- its largest group ever.

"I always dreamed of going to college but I didn't know how," said Guzman.

The idea of college is no longer intimidating to Guzman, who recently enrolled at FCC ... It's the next step on her way to fulfill a dream inspired by her little girl.

"I want to be a psychologist for kids-- because I believe that is the key for a better future," said Guzman.

The program recently received funding to continue the program for the next five years.

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