One of the most wonderful opportunities that the Riverside County Office of Education offers to students is a summer internship in a designated work site within the Coachella Valley. Not only does it assist low-income students with migrant farmworker parents, but it also gives them the opportunity to take advantage of support from Coachella Valley employers.
The internship is through the Migrant Education Program of Riverside County Office of Education, a program for students with parents who work in the agricultural business, lumber, etc. The amazing director of the program is Myra Sanchez and the supervisor is Armando Valles. The internship was Monday-Thursday, eight hours each day, for a total of seven weeks. The students were paid by the hour and exposed them to real life jobs, and the experiences they will soon face in the near future. The requirements are pretty simple, be sixteen years of age or over, finish the application, and go to an interview. Once passing the interview, there are more meetings and applications to go through to become an employee of the Riverside County Office of Education.
There were thirty-five students who participated in this summer’s internship. Twenty-six were high school students and nine of them college students. The twenty-six high school students were paid by the migrant program, while the nine college students were funded by Riverside County Office of Education Superintendent Judy D. White, Ed.D.. The internship program began in 2017. All students are different, their interests and aspirations aren’t similar to one another. With that being said, there were twenty different work sites throughout the Coachella Valley. Some students worked in medical clinics, law firms, water districts, Desert Sands Unified School District, and water districts while others worked with our government officials including Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia and Congressman Raul Ruiz.
Every student had the chance to be in a real life job. Career interest and transportation played a part of choosing the work site for students. The coordinator of the internship Armando Valles held group meetings on Fridays to build leadership among the students. Two presenters spoke about their career and the path to where they are now. Presenters like Neftali Galarza, the youngest school board member for Coachella Valley Unified School District and in the whole valley, spoke and made a powerful impact with his story.
Not only are presenters and leadership skills brought to the students, but there are also sessions on scholarships, resume assistance, and finance workshops. This internship encourages and pushes these migrant students that working in the fields isn’t the only lifestyle for them. The presenters and supervisors are networks for these students to take advantage of and to use wisely.
The students were even given the chance to go to Dodger Stadium and watch a night game. Most students didn’t know about the team and some hadn’t been to a real baseball game in their whole lives. They were also able to meet Dominican Republic baseball player Pedro Baez. Pedro Baez spoke Spanish, and all migrant students were able to understand him and relate to him. They even had a behind-the-scenes stadium tour, something that not many people get to have, but we were able to because of this internship.
The migrant student internship program is very proud that 100% of the participants, from day one, have chosen to attend college and remain committed to graduate. Many students agreed that, if it were not for this internship, they would probably be working in the fields with their parents. This internship exposed students to real-life jobs that hold bright futures.
To find out more about the program click here.
Lead photo caption: Andy Huerta working at Congressman Raul Ruiz, MD, in Palm Desert
Neftali Galarza with the interns at the Riverside County Office of Education office in Indio
- Lizbeth Luevano: DSUSD
- Mary Perry and Ariana and Jan Diaz: DSUSD
- Interns at Dodger Stadium with Pedro Baez: DSUSD
- Neftali Galarza with interns: DSUSD
- Howard Marrotte at Desert Jet: DSUSD