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CAMP students move into apartments near UNG Gainesville Campus

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Christian Bello Escobar, director of migrant programs and services at University of North Georgia (UNG), helps a UNG student move into her apartment at Hawks Nest at the Preserve. Eighteen students enrolled with the College Assistance Migrant Program at UNG will live in units less than one mile from UNG's Gainesville Campus. Nathan Cheesman, coordinator of orientation and student leadership, and Stacie Rowley, associate dean of student life, also help the students move in Monday.

Nancy Camacho always planned to go to college. But the native of Moroleon, Guanajuato, Mexico, thought it would be in Mexico since she has only lived in Georgia for the past 18 months.

"I didn't know I could go here," Camacho said, adding her struggle to master the English language remained an obstacle.

After teachers and counselors at Habersham Central High School helped eliminate those hurdles, Camacho re-examined her choices. Then she heard about the University of North Georgia (UNG) and its College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) and elected for the university closer to her family.

"UNG's Gainesville Campus is only 45 minutes away, and I didn't want to leave my family too soon," Camacho said.

On Aug. 13, Camacho and 17 other CAMP students moved into their own apartments at Hawks Nest at the Preserve near UNG's Gainesville Campus, establishing their own community of living, working and attending college together.

"This is a big support for me in my first year," said Camacho, a freshman majoring in engineering. "CAMP helps me economically and provides me support and guidance."

Funded by the U.S. Department of Education, CAMP is a first-year scholarship program that provides students with academic, social and financial support to help them complete their first year of college and beyond. CAMP benefits include supplemental financial aid assistance, one-on-one academic advisement, a textbook stipend, tutoring and mentoring, workshops focused on improving and developing students' skills, and cultural events/service learning opportunities. In addition, a stipend is awarded during the first academic year to students who actively participate in the program.

This federal program is for eligible participants who are disadvantaged migrant and seasonal farmworkers or their dependents. Additionally, applicants must be an eligible farmworker or a dependent of an eligible farmworker and be a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident. The program provides academic support and limited stipends to eligible first-year students only; financial assistance varies by student need. Participating students still work and are responsible for the bulk of their own expenses.

Ulyses Acevedo qualified for CAMP since his mother worked on a plant nursery in Athens. He said he was glad he signed up.

"I will gain the experience of adulthood by living on my own and meeting people of different interests," he said.

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University of North Georgia freshman Ulyses Acevedo, center, listens to one of the College Assistance Migrant Program mentors during move-in day Monday, Aug. 13, at Hawks Nest at the Preserve. Acevedo will share the three-bedroom apartment with three other UNG students who are part of the CAMP program. Two of his roommates are Chasee Soe, left, and Carlos Garcia, second from left.

Acevedo will share a three-bedroom apartment with three other UNG male students at Hawk's Nest off Tumbling Creek Road about a half-mile from the Gainesville Campus. Two men will have one bedroom and one bathroom, while two others will share a bedroom and bathroom.  All four will have access to kitchen, laundry facilities and living room.

The CAMP grant helps fund housing needs since the Gainesville Campus does not have residence halls, said Christian Bello Escobar, director of migrant programs and services at UNG. In the past two years, an apartment complex worked with UNG to offer housing to CAMP students. This year, the owner of Hawk's Nest, previously known as The Preserve at Tumbling Creek Apartments, decided to make his development a student-driven community, Bello Escobar said.

Other benefits of living at Hawks Nest include:

  • UNG shuttle bus makes daily trips to and from the campus.
  • UNG Public Safety monitors and patrols the area.

"Eventually, we hope to have a land bridge between the apartments and the campus to allow students to bike or walk to campus," Bello Escobar said, indicating the apartment complex is a half-mile from campus.

CAMP students also will have a UNG junior Juan Velasquez, a business management major from Dalton, Georgia, assuming the role of resident assistant at Hawks Nest. He will plan activities to build a sense of belonging among the freshman CAMP students.

"I will also talk about their expectations for the first year," said Velasquez, who enrolled at UNG through the CAMP program and will be a mentor to CAMP students, too. "And what they can get out of it is based on what they put in."

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