Daniela Dominguez Rodriguez found her second family.
The University of North Georgia student recently moved from Mexico and decided on a whim to attend a Migrant Student Union meeting.
It turned out to be a good decision, and now the group has become a close-knit, community-service driven club of about 40 members and seven board members that she can count on when times get tough.
“It’s hard to be far away from home,” she said.
Migrants can fall into a group of people who are “following the crops,” or moved from another country or another part of the United States to work in one aspect of agriculture, like picking fruit or planting vegetables, said associate professor and principal investigator of CAMP Harriett Allison.
Another group of migrants are those who came with their parents or guardians as small children, Allison said.
They could also be seasonal agriculture workers or even those born in the U.S. with migrant parents.
“The MSU is brand new and off to a great start,” Allison said.
Jorge Deras, a chair on the board for the Migrant Student Union and a UNG student, had a different reason for joining.
“I joined ... to gain a better understanding of the struggles my parents faced while working in agriculture and when they came to the United States,” Deras said.
The club is designed to be an extension of the College Assistance Migrant Program, which supports first-year students with financial aid, as well as academic and social support, according to www.migrantstudents.org.
“They are my hope to attend college. I don’t know where I would be at without their encouragement and support,” Dominguez Rodriguez said.
The Migrant Student Union’s primary goal is to prepare its members to be leaders in their community.
Not only that, but it also hopes to get rid of the stereotype of what it means to be a migrant, or at least educate the public on what it means to be a migrant.
Throughout the year, the club will get together to clean up Atlanta Highway as one way to put themselves in the community.
“MSU allows me to suggest cleaning up areas such as Atlanta Highway in Gainesville that seem to be neglected when compared to the rest of the city,” Deras said.
They also have workout sessions together for stress relief and other team building activities like laser tag.
The club’s educational events are aimed at explaining migrant culture and history, and cultural events expose participants to aspects of the daily life of a migrant.