Migrant Students Plan their Futures with ETSU
This summer ETSU hosted the Seventh Annual Migrant Student Leadership Conference for 40 migrant Hispanic high school and middle school students from across the state. During the week of July 29 participants were engaged with college students, community leaders and faculty, with the goal of increasing the likelihood that these youth will graduate from high school and obtain post-secondary training that will lead to productive careers for their communities.
This year's academic content centered on writing and website development with the theme of "My Social Footprint," taught by Program Coordinator and ETSU graduate (2013), Tiffany Ann Taylor. Discussions revolved around their impact on society and led to topics that the students included on their websites: What they plan to do after graduation and what changes they will make in their lives to better contribute to their communities and have a responsible presence on social media sites, such as Facebook.
The "Writing for a Reason" class taught by Holly Melendez (ETSU, 2002 and 2012) focused on defining and identifying a mentor or a career icon in the students' lives, and led to them writing a one page essay on their mentor using a standard essay format and highlighting at least three positive character qualities they wished to emulate.
A "Healthy Lifestyles" class facilitated by Meagan Batchelor, a current ETSU student, complemented the health screening that was provided to all participants. The "Community Matters" project took the students on a tour of the ETSU recycling program, which initiated a time of volunteering and a week-long project of collecting recyclables on campus. On Wednesday, the students were transported to Northeast State Community College for a tour and a discussion of alternative ways to receive an education. A lecture/demonstration called "Math Rocks" was presented by NESCC professor, John Melendez.
Evening activities included soccer training with the ETSU Women's Soccer Team, a Zumba class, a show at the ETSU planetarium presented by Dr. Gary Henson, mentorship time with counselors and a movie night.
A highlight of the program was the Career Round Robin held on Friday morning in the Culp Center. Representatives from various professions and agencies met with students interested in a particular field, from health care and education to fire fighters, police and court interpreting. Through this event the students have an opportunity to learn about a variety of careers in a one-on-one environment.
Seven of the 13 staff counselors in the program were from ETSU, both recent graduates and current ETSU graduate students. Participants resided in a campus dorm, ate at the Market Place in the Culp Center, and were exposed to college life, including admissions, financial aid, study skills and career workshops.
Much of the week was spent working on their website development and essays in the ETSU Digital Media Center. Friday evening during the Closing Program at the Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church the students presented their culminating projects to guests, with ETSU President Dr. Brian Noland in attendance, on laptops positioned around the Fellowship Hall and several read their mentor essays aloud.
On Saturday the conference concluded with an evaluation session and saying goodbye to their new friends. The success of the program will be measured by the choices the students make in the future. In the meantime, the conference inspired 40 promising high school and middle school students to study and work toward the many options they will have upon graduating.
For more information please contact Dorothy Dobbins or Ardis Nelson, Co-directors of the program.

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