South Texas College is continuing to seek participants for its High School Equivalency program, which helps eligible migrant workers and their families obtain a high school equivalency diploma.

The program pays for GED preparation courses and the price of the exams, allows participants to use the college’s facilities and services, and gives students the opportunity to obtain a training certification in welding, forklift operations or medical operations.

Xenia Muñoz, STC college and career navigator, says that the program is funded through a $1.9 million grant awarded to the college through the Department of Education.

The program is open to people 16 or older without a high school diploma or equivalent, who score at a 6th grade comprehension level or higher on an assessment and show proof of migrant work conducted in the past 24 months or another certificate of eligibility. The program is open to migrant workers and their direct family members.

“We usually have students who didn’t go to work, but their mom or dad or brother did,” Muñoz said.

Muñoz says migrant workers often travel far and frequently, making education difficult for them and their families and limiting their long term career and education options.

“It’s important to them because usually when families migrate for financial need, the kids don’t get to finish their high school or they go to work right away,” she said. “This program is meant to help them obtain that diploma, and that’s going to really help them in the future.”

The program began accepting students in January of this year, Muñoz said, and so far 25 students have gone through the program. In many ways, the way the program has rolled out has been sculpted by the pandemic.

“We usually want to aim for serving 100 per year. As of right now, due to COVID, our recruitment has not been so high,” she said.

The pandemic has changed the program in other ways too, Muñoz says. A stipend originally geared toward being used as a gas allowance is now more frequently being used on WiFi.

“The check is still given to them under these circumstances either way, and they can use it toward maybe paying their internet bill,” she said. “Right now all of our classes are being held online, they’re all virtual, so they really do need that internet access from home to connect to class.”

Not all impacts of online class have been negative. Some students have benefited from more virtual accessibility, Muñoz says.

“One student of mine, in July her and her family needed to go up to Wisconsin to do some labor work,” she said. “She continued with the program in Wisconsin, she was able to connect from over there, and she was able to finish.”

STC’s High School Equivalency Program has multiple classes opening up before the end of the year. More information is available at (956) 872-1679 or (956) 872-3585.