Meet the Migrant Education Program Team
Dr. Zujaila Ornelas
Migrant Education Program DirectorAs the granddaughter of a migratory farmworker and Director of the Arizona Migrant Education Program (MEP), I am committed to ensuring our migratory children and youth reach and attain challenging academic standards that will prepare them for responsible citizenship, further learning, and productive employment. Like a home away from home, the Arizona MEP supports our families by providing resources and services to help overcome factors that inhibit their ability to succeed personally and academically. My purpose is to empower the migratory community to dream fearlessly, stand up for what they believe in, and remember that, ¡Sí Se Puede! The MEP is very personal to me as it is to our staff throughout the state; I am very humbled to be leading this work.
Migrant Education Program SpecialistJoining the Migrant Education Program has brought me full circle. Being a migratory student myself, I also experienced the many challenges our migratory students face today. I also experienced firsthand the wealth of knowledge and resources available to all students within the state. As the Program Specialist, I share the responsibility to ensure that all our migratory students have access to resources and educational services in their schools as well as in their communities. With dedication and hard work of each program staff, parents and community partners, we will ensure every migratory student reaches their full academic potential. It is an honor to be part of the team who can impact our agricultural community in such a way that our families can feel confident their students will achieve academic success.
Since having joined the MEP, I have become ever knowledgeable and appreciative of the many wonderful experiences along with countless stresses in all its glory. If someone would have asked me what the MEP was a year ago, I would have been struggling to find a response as it was something of the unknown to me. Present me would now say that the MEP is the very entity of direct and essential service that we can provide to our unique population of Migratory families. For that reason, are we ever more responsible and capable of aiding in overcoming the many challenges MEP children and youth are facing and bridging the academic and financial gaps? In identifying, recruiting, and undergoing the COE process for those eligible families, to the aftermath of the implementation of providing instructional and support services, each component of MEP is crucial and unique, which is why Identification and Recruitment, Data, Grants, and Family Engagement work shoulder to shoulder being mission driven to ensure the full circle of the MEP achieves its purpose. From our agricultural hard-working parents to our determined and resilient children and youth, no doubt will our incredible and compassionate MEP familia be ready to serve, myself included. This statement is a true attestation of how near and dear MEP has become to me.
Bianca Fonseca Cervantes
Identification and Recruitment Coordinator
Migratory children and youth are often the most in need, but also the most difficult to find. I am honored to be part of the MEP familia because everyone understands the unique challenges that migratory families face and does their best to provide them with the resources and services they need to succeed. As the Identification and Recruitment Coordinator, my focus is to work with our recruiters to locate as many migratory families as possible wherever they may find themselves - at schools, in their communities, and out in the fields. I am committed to bringing the best practices to our state in order to identify and serve more and more migratory families across Arizona. Since starting this role, my appreciation and respect towards all agricultural workers has only grown because I have seen firsthand how hard they labor to bring food to our tables. This experience has been especially dear to my heart because I come from a family of farmworkers and fishermen in Mexico. In speaking with them, it is more than evident that they want the best for their family. I feel very fortunate to work alongside so many caring and passionate MEP staff at the state and LEA level who all do their part to bring hope to so many deserving and hard-working migratory families.
Grants and Family Engagement Specialist
I had the honor of working and learning about the migratory community thanks to my work with the College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) at ASU. The dedication, resiliency, and perseverance I witnessed from my former students provided me great insights on the needs and challenges of our migratory students and families. The Migrant Education Program is more than a program for me. With every student we identify, we learn more about the challenges they face and are always thinking of ways to serve our migratory students so that they are provided with a good quality education. The MEP also means community. As a community we are working together with our LEAs to provide assistance and guidance to meet state and federal guidelines, while at the same time keeping the needs of our students at the forefront of our mission.