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UNG welcomes Migrant Student Union as new student organization

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MSU students on the Gainesville Campus (from front to back) Daniela Dominguez, Sebastian Godinez Jr., Jorge Deras, Sthefany Pedraza, Juan Velasquez, Giselle Simental and staff advisor Christian Bello.

The Migrant Student Union (MSU) is the newest student organization on the University of North Georgia's (UNG) Gainesville Campus, and encourages members to become leaders in promoting the migrant and seasonal farm work culture as a source of empowerment through socialization, education and leadership.

MSU is open to all UNG students, and will work closely with the College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) to communicate and get feedback from the students and staff involved with the organization.

Jorge Deras, a sophomore engineering major, is chairman of MSU's executive committee. He has helped establish the organization's goals, values and positions with an executive council and the faculty advisor, Christian Bello, project director of CAMP.

"Because the organization is new, I've taken a more hands-on approach when organizing and hosting events," Deras said. "In our first year, we want to clearly define who migrant students are and to help the Gainesville-Oakwood community through various volunteer activities. We currently have around 40 members, 15 of whom have been deeply involved with the building and promotion of MSU."

CAMP is an educational first-year program that offers individuals with migrant or seasonal farm work backgrounds an opportunity to begin an undergraduate program in a higher learning institution.

Bello, who works closely with these students, believes in the reciprocity of education between this demographic and others at UNG.

"As the CAMP director, higher education administrator and social justice advocate, it brings me great joy to see students come together for a cause they feel strongly about. It is our vision to engage the campus to have a deeper understanding of our program and our students," Bello said. "One prominent goal for MSU is to dispel stereotypes and any negative connotations associated with migrant lifestyle; the group seeks to accomplish this by holding cultural events each semester. The group hopes to also promote leadership and teamwork among the organization's members and throughout the campus." 

Deras has a clear vision of the purpose and future of MSU.

"We're seeking to help UNG's migrant student population adapt to college because the vast majority of migrant students are first-generation students," he said. "We want to ensure that we enhance the college experience of anyone who participates or attends our events."

For more information on CAMP and MSU, visit https://ung.edu/college-assistance-migrant-program/index.php

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