Imagine, from a child's perspective, being uprooted from your home and starting school in a different country, with a different language and different school curriculum. These extra challenges make it tough for migrant students, but for the past 20 years Sonoma State University's Migrant Education Advisor Program (MEAP) has been helping these students while giving college students hands-on experience to apply to their future careers.
MEAP hires bilingual college students with an interest in pursuing a career as a school counselor. Twenty students total from Sonoma State and Santa Rosa Junior College are hired part-time each semester to give local migrant middle and high school students academic and career guidance.
Those MEAP advisors shadow a professional school counselor while providing supplemental academic advising and social-emotional mentoring for migrant students and English-learners. School districts cover 50 percent of the cost of hosting the program on targeted school campuses with higher numbers of identified migrant students. MEAP has since built a successful pipeline of professional school counselors, many of whom work in Sonoma County schools.
"Almost every district has one of our former migrant education advisors," says MEAP Coordinator Giselle Perry. "It's also great role modeling for kids because they can see what the future can be like."
This has also affected the Sonoma State Masters in Counseling program, which now has about 60 applicants for 12 spots each year. "It's helped diversify the program," says Perry. "Not every MEAP advisor who applies gets in, but quite a few have come in and changed the face of our program." This year, four Masters in Counseling students and 18 undergraduates are involved in MEAP.
Migrant parents often feel disconnected and intimidated by the education system, and they are unsure how to help their children succeed. "I know what it feels like to try to explain something to parents from another country," says Perry. "MEAP advisors keep parents in the loop in a culturally sensitive way. We offer a little tutoring if we need to, but it's not our main role--it's just that there aren't enough bilingual tutors."
MEAP celebrates its 20-year anniversary at the Green Music Center on Feb. 11. Prospective bilingual students can contact Giselle Perry at 707.664-2748 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about the program.
The Migrant Education Advisor Program (MEAP) is an educational collaborative comprised of the Migrant Education Program, Region 2, the Masters in School Counseling Programs at Sonoma State University, California State University Sacramento and school districts served by the Migrant Education Program in Region 2, serving students from Marin County to the Oregon border. Butte County Office of Education administers the Region 2 program.
Founded in 1996, MEAP itself was the vision of Dr. Ernesto Ruiz, former Regional Director of the Migrant Education Program-Region 2, and recent former California State Director of the Migrant Education Program. Dr. Ruiz saw an ongoing need for more bilingual and bicultural educators in California.