College Assistance Migratory Program (CAMP) faces pandemic challenges

Just like so many other programs, the College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) has felt the difficulties the coronavirus pandemic has brought, and the changes haven’t been easy, according to Maria Mabbut, CAMP follow-up and career counselor.

CAMP assists students who are migratory or seasonal farmworkers, or children of such workers enrolled in their first year of undergraduate studies. The program assists the students both financially and academically through tutoring and skills workshops.

The program also helps students beyond their first year through academic and personal support. Mabbut keeps in touch with CAMP alumni and is also the professor for the CAMP class that students are required to attend.

The CAMP class is currently meeting both remotely and in person, and the in-person cohort is split into two sections in two separate rooms to maintain social distancing, according to Mabbut.

“This semester I feel really blessed that we do have, for the most part, the cohort in the room,”  Mabbut said. “I think for what we work to do, and the academic work we work to provide for CAMP students, it’s more meaningful in person.”

One of the more notable changes the program has gone through is having to do all activities virtually. Big events such as the Northwest CAMP Consortium, where CAMP cohorts from 16 different universities from Oregon, Washington and Idaho are present, had to be held virtually.

[Photo of the CAMP class.]
Photo by Abbey Nemigeers | The Arbiter

The majority of assignments and presentations have remained the same as pre-pandemic. The two major assignments in the class are attending the career fair and participation in mock panel interviews, both of which will be held virtually this semester. 

Mabbut says the most difficult aspect of adjusting has been making the program as energizing and as inspiring as possible. Maintaining personal connection with students has become more difficult, according to Mabbut. 

For the upcoming years, Mabbut believes that the pandemic will impact CAMP, but that there are some positives to this situation.

“I think the impact is going to be there, but I think it’s in a way forcing us to do things in many aspects better — definitely different, but better,” Mabbut said. “While it’s hard because I don’t think anybody can probably argue that it isn’t hard, there are so many opportunities within those challenges.”

Guadalupe Rodriguez, the recruiter for CAMP, has felt the challenges as well. Rodriguez, who is in her first full cycle here at Boise State, had to do presentations virtually to high school students. With some schools, it wasn’t possible to present due to not having the necessary technology.

Rodriguez believes the most difficult aspect right now is to keep students motivated.

“I know it feels like it’s been such an interesting year where it’s easy to procrastinate, especially if classes are online, or thinking showing up to class isn’t necessary,” Rodriguez said. “Things like that are thoughts a student may have, so that is a challenge, just making sure students realize that they still have to show up to their classes, they still have to be active on Blackboard, things like that.”

Jose Perez, a current CAMP student, feels like he’s missing a lot of the college experience. Perez says the hardest part is not being able to have that one-on-one conversation with the professors, nor with his classmates. It hasn’t been easy, but Perez is grateful for CAMP. 

“I think it would’ve been way harder if I wasn’t in CAMP,” Perez said. “They have made it easy to access the information we need to fill out things like FAFSA, find scholarships and they’ve taught us how to manage our time, how to use it to get things done.”

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