Postcards from Camp

Camping exposes people to new surroundings. It forces them to navigate unfamiliar parts of the world. At West Hills, a resource called CAMP works exactly the same way — but for college.

The College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) exposes new students to the elements of a college lifestyle. It provides ongoing academic, social and financial support to first-generation students during their initial year at West Hills.
Jazmin Murillo, a student at WHCC, is the second member of her family to take advantage of CAMP. After seeing how it helped her cousin, now a student at California State University Fresno, she had to sign up.
“One of my parents worked in the fields, and this program is designed for the
children of people like them, to support us and guide us through college life because it’s more likely that our parents didn’t go to college,” she said. “It’s been really helpful in helping me meet people and see what is out there.”
Through CAMP, a cohort of students take field trips to college campuses, regularly meet with advisors and mentors, and receive financial stipends throughout the year for hitting specific milestones such as participating in college activities or staying enrolled past the census date.

“One of the main things I like are the bonding exercises,” Murillo said. “Recently, we went to Camp Sequoia for three days and did a bunch of leadership exercises and activities to get to know one another. It helps make connections for when we transfer, like maybe we can room with somebody we’ve met already.”

The sense of community with other first-generation students is crucial to instilling a connection to the college and navigating the path beyond an associate degree, she said.

“Since our parents are constantly working, they don’t have the opportunity to take us on these trips, so I really appreciate that the school takes us to visit college campuses, like UCLA,” Murillo said.

The program also ensures that its students hit the books. Every month, they meet with a counselor to ensure they’re progressing in classes and exploring their options during and after West Hills.