Focus, drive and overcoming hardships have all put a handful of Migrant Education Tutorial & Support Services Program students on the pathway to success.
A component of the Center for Instruction, Technology & Innovation, the METS program and both its tutors and support staff have helped guide the following students to their high school graduation: Emanuel Morales Velazquez (Williamson Central School District), Valeria Muniz Arocho (Watertown City School District), Yeimi Reynoso Boch (Fulton City School District), Eloy Sanchez Tellez (North Rose Wolcott Central School District) and Nancy Aguilera (Sodus Central School District). Each of the graduates said albeit challenging, the road to completing their high school education was worth every bump along the way.
Boch openly thanked her brother for bringing her to the United States from Guatemala, where she most likely would have become a young mother. Her dreams of an education and a better life prevailed.
“(My brother) explained the whole process I’d go through if I didn’t go to college,” she said. “Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
She and several of the graduates will attend SUNY Oneonta in the fall, while Tellez plans to attend college in Mexico to study international business and Arocho will join the United States Air Force. Arocho thanked METS staff for encouraging her to go outside of her comfort zone. Aguilera’s heartwarming story of being separated from her father, who had been deported, brought tears to the eyes of several attendees. She said her father wanted more for her than to work on farms, as many parents of METS students have done.
“We came from zero and now we’ll be something bigger,” she said. “I will get my education; I want to become an art teacher. Ever since I got here (from Mexico), I’ve done nothing but learn.
METS Program Director Paul Gugel said the program wouldn’t be as successful without the support of the community. That is why the following people were recognized with subsequent honors: Evelyn Fargo (Caring Community), Catherina Farrell (Caring Community), Teresa Joselyn Alba (Star Teacher), Angela Fonceca (Star Parent), Morales Family (Star Family), Ulivia Lucas and Esteban Garcia (Star Family), and METS staff member Adele Trowbridge (Lifetime Achievement). Also honored were Gabriela Ramirez as a star student and her mentor and G. Ray Bodley High School senior Nora Kingsley as a caring community member.
Both Aerial Argueta and Gamaliel also were recognized as star English as a Second Language students. Their tutor, Jenna Vaccarelli, said after working 70+ hours on farms in Jefferson County each week, the pair dedicates upwards of two hours to studying English as they work toward achieving more success.
Former METS staff member Wilmer Jimenez served as featured speaker, as he detailed his journey from working on a dairy farm 70+ hours each week to dreaming of a better life. Fast forward several years later and the Monday after he graduated college in December 2018, he was hired as the health and wellness coordinator for the Spanish Action League of Syracuse, New York.
“The reality is: everything is hard,” he said. “You won’t get to the top of the mountain without sweating. Going through the process of getting there is hard, but not impossible. As long as you keep the vision in your head, you’ll get there.”
Each honoree received a certificate of recognition and a METS mug filled with goodies. All graduates also received a $250 scholarship from the Weston T. Hyde Educational Foundation.