Getting involved is the theme of Esmeralda Flores’ experience at Oregon State University. And she wouldn’t have been able to do it without CAMP.
CAMP — the College Assistance Migrant Program — provides educational support services including outreach efforts to eligible migrant and seasonal farm workers and their children during their first year of college.
Flores’ first job was working in the fields with her parents, and by the time she began attending Aloha High School, she wasn’t sure what she wanted to do next.
High school counselors steered her toward Oregon State, the CAMP program and an internship with the Camp Scholar Intern program with University Housing and Dining Services.
She remembers feeling overwhelmed when she learned she’d been accepted to all three.
Now, nearing the end of her Oregon State experience, Flores says CAMP was invaluable.
“Without CAMP, I wouldn’t have known about so many of the opportunities on campus,” she says. “I wouldn’t have the friends I have now.”
CAMP helped Flores with some of the basics, like understanding how to pick a major and navigating the university. More importantly, it enriched her life with cultural experiences.
Together, Flores’ CAMP group visited places that some of her classmates, despite having grown up in Oregon, had never seen. They camped at a yurt on the coast and snowboarded on Mt. Hood.
“Those experiences were comfortable for everyone because everyone there understands where you’re coming from. We’re not exposed to a lot of those kinds of opportunities growing up,” Flores explains.
Flores decided to major in women, gender and sexuality studies and sociology. After a successful freshman year, she participated in the Meso American Student Association and the Memorial Union Program Council.
She traveled to London with the Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies department, to Washington D.C. with the College of Liberal Arts where she heard Michelle Obama speak, to Colombia for a service learning opportunity and to Cuba to study abroad.
“When I started here at Oregon State I never imagined doing so much,” Flores says.
And she wants future students to have those same opportunities. Flores’ long-term goal is to work for a nonprofit to help others in one way or another — the way CAMP helped her.
“I’m still exploring all the different areas right now, and my program is giving me a lot of insight,” she says. “I want to go to graduate school eventually. It doesn’t matter how much money I make as long as I’m enjoying it and committed to helping others.”