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CAMP students move into apartments near UNG Gainesville Campus

August 15, 2018

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.

CAMP is eligible to students who themselves or their parents have participated in the Migrant Education Program, or spent 75 days as a migrants or seasonal farm worker, or  have participated or be eligible to participate in the Employment and Training Administration, National Farmworker Jobs Program (NFJP).

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.

Acevedo will share a three-bedroom apartment with three other UNG male students at Hawk's Nest at the Preserve 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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