Magazine Feature / People

Alumna points migrant students toward opportunity

Although she lives and works 1,000 miles away in California, alumna Angela (Maestas) Robbins’ heart belongs at DU.

As a senior educational administrator with the Los Angeles County Office of Education, Robbins, BA ’91, coordinates a program that allows at-risk students to learn from DU professors. Each summer, she sends migrant students to Denver to participate in the University’s Making of an Engineer and Making of a Scientist programs—residential courses designed to introduce high schoolers to engineering, mathematics and computer science.

“These are high-risk, high-needs kids,” Robbins says. “Through the programs, DU has given them an incredible growth opportunity that they otherwise wouldn’t have.”

California has a large population of Hispanic migrant workers employed in the agriculture, logging and fishing industries. According to Robbins, migrant families relocate frequently to follow the crops, moving their children from school to school. As a result, most migrant children need supplemental instructional services.

Robbins serves 18,000 eligible migrant students, from ages 3 to 21, in 32 school districts.

She says she was drawn to the position because it took advantage of her educational administration experience and her personal background.

“I grew up in a bilingual household, and my family also had a background filled with struggles,” Robbins says. “I knew that I could make a difference with these kids and be a role model.

“I was one of the first kids in my family to attend college,” she adds. “If I could do it, so can these kids.”

Robbins received a full scholarship to DU, where she majored in music education. Four years later, she received a master’s degree in educational administration from the University of Colorado. Robbins taught elementary, middle and high school music in Adams, Jefferson and Douglas counties for eight years before becoming an administrator.

According to Robbins, visiting DU and receiving encouragement from professors helps migrant students envision themselves at a university.

This article originally appeared in The Source, March 2006.

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