Santa Cruz Good Times

Friday
Feb 27th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

From Field to College

news strawberryCalifornia Strawberry Commission helps children of fieldworkers get to college

Jesus Rios has come a long way. The Michoacan-born 25-year-old went from picking strawberries with his parents in the fields of Salinas to working on his master’s in electrical engineering at Fresno State University. And he doesn’t plan on stopping there: Rios plans to pursue a doctorate in engineering after he completes his Master’s.

 

“I want to work for a company like NASA or Boeing,” says Rios. “I want to work in an industry that’s developing new technology.”

Rios came to the United States with his parents, Javier and Maria Luisa Rios, in 2005. Prior to Rios’ arrival, his parents would come to the United States every summer to work in the Salinas strawberry fields as migrant workers.

“They came over [to the United States] for about 20 years straight,” says Rios. “Then they stayed once they brought me in 2005. Before they brought me, they would go back to Mexico every winter, when there was no field work in Salinas.”

Rios himself worked in the fields beginning in 2006. “I’d go to high school, but I worked in the fields whenever I had time off,” says Rios, whose parents are still fieldworkers. “Even after high school, I worked in the fields before coming to Fresno State.”

Rios says he might not have been able to attend Fresno State were it not for a few well-placed assistance programs. One was the College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP), a federally funded program that offers financial assistance for students with migrant and season farm-working backgrounds, in addition to counseling and other forms of academic assistance.

The other integral program was a scholarship provided by the California Strawberry Commission (CSC), which is based in Watsonville. The CSC has been awarding scholarships to the children of Watsonville and Salinas-area fieldworkers for 19 years, and the scholarships have totaled $1.5 million for more than 750 recipients. This year, the CSC awarded 118 scholarships to area youth, including 32 to Watsonville students. Three CSC scholarship recipients attend UC Santa Cruz and Cabrillo College, including Catarina Mendez from Watsonville. Mendez, who is one of 10 children, moved to the United States when she was 14-years-old and now studies human biology at UCSC. 

“The inspiration for the scholarship program has always been about honoring the people who are the foundation of the strawberry community—the farm workers,” says Carolyn O’Donnell, director of communications for the CSC. “Without the dedication and hard work of the employees, we would not be able to do what we do, and provide strawberries to the nation. By giving scholarships to their children, we are supporting the hopes and dreams they hold for their kids and their communities.”

Rios has been receiving aid from the CSC for almost seven years now. He originally found out about the program from an unlikely source. “The owner of the strawberry fields [where my parents and I worked] told me about the scholarship,” says Rios. “I always thought I’d be able to [go to college]. I really wanted to, so I was going to make sure of it.”

The CSC presented this year’s scholarships at an award ceremony on Thursday, May 17 at the Kennedy Youth Center in Watsonville. The event featured a speech by Jose Hernandez, a NASA astronaut and son of Central Valley farm workers.

Rios had the following advice for new recipients: “Always have goals. Work hard and everything is possible. It may take a little longer than for someone else, but we can still make it. That’s how I made it.” 

Comments (1)Add Comment
...
written by Maggie Espinoza , May 23, 2012
What an accomplishment!!
you are an example of determination and courage which is within children of farmworkers who value the sacrifice of their parents. way to go and keep us proud.

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Green Swell

Local surfboard company greens up the industry with an eco-conscious business model

 

Two Fish Bound by a Golden Cord

Until March 20, (Spring Equinox), Earth and her kingdoms (mineral, plant, animal, human) experience the influence of Pisces, sign of the World Savior. Whereas the task of Aquarius is as world server, the Pisces task is saving the world—tasks given to the two fishes. Pisces never really enters matter, and as the last sign of the zodiac includes all the signs. During Pisces, having gathered all the gifts of the previous 11 signs, it is a good time to prepare for new initiating plans when Aries (sign of beginnings) begins. No wonder Pisces, like Scorpio, is so difficult (both are ruled by Pluto, planet of death, new life, regeneration, transformations). Both signs (with Scorpio drowning in dark and deep waters) find life on Earth a hardship, disorienting (from the spiritual perspective), at times feeling betrayed. Life is a paradox, especially for Pisces. Each zodiacal sign represents and distributes a different phase and facet (12) of the Soul’s diamond light, Pisces is the “Light of Life itself, ending forever the darkness of matter.” It takes two fish to complete this work (creating eventually an extraordinary human being). One fish turned toward the material world (in order to understand matter), the other fish toward the heavenly world. Around the two fish is a silvery cord binding them together. The two fish are forever bound until all of humanity is redeemed (lifted up into the Light). This is the dedication of all world saviors (Buddha, Christ, the NGWS). Thus the sacrifice and suffering experienced by Pisces. Knowing these things about Pisces, let us help them all we can. Sometimes all of humanity is Pisces.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Seal Change

Celtic selkie lore comes alive in dazzling ‘Song of the Sea’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Teresa’s Gourmet Foods

New owners for Santa Cruz’s leading local salsa company

 

What defines a good dive bar?

It’s slightly dirty, and they serve cheap drinks. Stella Celeste, Santa Cruz, Barrista

 

Picchetti Winery

After enjoying its contents, I couldn’t throw away the empty bottle of Picchetti Winery’s Red Table Wine.

 

Happy Birthday, Manny

Manuel’s turns 50, farmers market steel head pairs with Pinot, and a Birichino Malvasia