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Hartnell College's King City Education Center Helping Migrant Workers Move Out of the Fields

June 1st, 2006

Elfego Campos, 32, drives tractors in the fields. Brenda Yasmin Escobedo, 21, cuts lettuce. Bernarda Vasques Perez, 19, packs it.

These migrant workers who live in King City - and hundreds like them - know that one of the first steps they must take to get out of the fields is to learn the English language.

And thanks to Hartnell College's King City Education Center and the Monterey County Office of Education, they are doing just that.

Perez enrolled in an English as a Second Language (ESL) class at the King City facility to improve her English. Her long-term goal is to earn a college degree and eventually become a doctor.

Escobedo wants to learn English so she can pursue a possible career in nursing.

Getting a grasp of the English is important to Campos so he can get a job in a store, doing perhaps customer service.

The current ESL class has an enrollment of 41, most of whom are farm laborers, according to Paulette Bumbalough, director of Hartnell's King City center. She said currently enrolled students have voiced interest in enrolling in more advanced ESL classes as well as self-paced classes.

She said the class grew out of a summer 2005 program at California State University, Monterey Bay, that was a joint venture of CSUMB and the migrant education program of the Monterey County Office of Education (MCOE); some of the classes were held at Hartnell College in Salinas.

Students in that program expressed interest in more classes. Robyn Cohen and Alberto Hernandez of the MCOE's migrant education program came to Hartnell and said they would provide the students. Hartnell's King City Education Center said it would provide the classes.

Hernandez said some of the students in the class did not know about Hartnell College or thought that college was not accessible to them. "Others thought that college was too expensive or had difficult enrollment processes," he continued.

"We had a goal of enrolling 20 students," Hernandez said. "We ended up with 41. There definitely was an interest in the class."

Students enrolled in the ESL class also took Introduction to College, a class that includes such topics as how to register for classes and information about student services such as financial aid, counseling, tutoring, and more.

For more information on the ESL class, call Paulette Bumbalough at Hartnell's King City Education Center, (831) 386-7100.