Leidy Partida, a student in the College Assistance Migrant Program, participated in the National HEP/CAMP Internship Program in Washington, D.C. during summer 2011. It was the first time a CSULB student was chosen for the national honor since CAMP was established at the university in 2000.
CAMP is a federally funded program that assists students who are migratory or seasonal farmworkers (or children of such workers) enrolled in their first year of undergraduate studies. The program is aimed at promoting continued enrollment and eventual graduation from the university. Services include outreach, counseling, tutoring, skills workshops, financial aid stipends, health services and housing assistance to eligible students during their first year of college. Limited follow-up services are provided to participants after their first year.
The oldest daughter of Mexican immigrants, Partida is the first in her family to graduate high school and the first to pursue a college education. More relevant to the internship, however, is the fact that she has been picking lima beans with her parents for 13 years, since she was 6 years old.
“As someone who currently works as a farmworker, I have always dreamed of sharing my story of picking lima beans with elected officials and prominent leaders in order to improve the harsh working conditions of farmworkers,” said Partida, who is majoring in criminal justice and human development. “Being selected as a national HEP/CAMP intern allowed me to fulfill this personal goal.”
During her eight-week internship, Partida worked in the office of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans, where she performed data entry and managed an office database, greeted and escorted visitors, and collected research and data on Latino education. She also participated in staff meetings, assisted the chief of staff in preparing reports, assisted in the planning of upcoming events and responded to constituent inquiries. Partida also participated in various seminars and leadership activities in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Internship Program.
Partida describes the past year as “unique, exciting, academically challenging and very rewarding.” Now back at CSULB for her sophomore year, she is involved in five student organizations, including the Student Special Security Operation Team, the Educational Opportunities Program Student Organization, the Leadership Academy and the Groupo Folklorico Mexica. In addition to her extracurricular activities, Partida completed 28 units during 2010-2011, with a GPA of 3.27.
After completing her undergraduate studies, Partida plans to pursue a master’s degree in criminal justice and, eventually, to become an FBI agent. In the meantime, she continues to work 20 hours every weekend at a nearby ranch harvesting and picking lima beans alongside her parents.
“I acknowledge that I am part of a small percentage of migrant Latinas who are fortunate enough to pursue a college education,” Partida wrote in her personal statement to the internship committee. “I am thankful to my parents for having settled in Long Beach and taking me to the lima bean fields to work alongside them. These experiences have molded me into the young professional that I am today, and they motivated me to pursue my dreams.”
For more information about CAMP services, go to http://www.csulb.edu/camp/.