Instructor Miguel Garcia, front center, poses with his students outside First Baptist Church of DeLeon Springs, where Daytona State College conducts adult education classes funded in part by a grant from the Mexican government.DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Aug. 26, 2013) – Maria Verdinez appreciates the opportunity to come to class at First Baptist Church of DeLeon Springs, where Daytona State College instructor Miguel Garcia guides her through an ESOL lesson.
 
“I am very thankful for this support,” she said. “It helps me to grow and to communicate with my children’s teachers.”
 
Likewise, classmate Maria Duran believes she will soon be able to complete her GED, then enroll in college classes. “I hope to have more opportunity to better myself and my surroundings,” she said.
 
The two are among well over 100 who have benefitted from grants awarded to Daytona State by the Mexican government through its consulate in Orlando to provide scholarships and financial assistance to low-income Mexican-Americans and international students from Mexico seeking to better themselves through education.
 
For the third straight year, the consulate this month awarded thousands to Daytona State to continue the initiative. Sponsored by Mexico’s Institute for Mexicans Abroad (IME BECAS), this year’s $8,000 award will help at least 90 students enrolled primarily in adult education programs (as well as some college-credit) pay for tuition and expenses such as testing fees, educational supplies and textbooks.
 
Daytona State will match the IME BECAS grant with funding and in-kind services. The Sister Cities Association of Volusia County also will supplement the initiative with donations through the Daytona State College Foundation and other in-kind services, bringing the total funding for this year’s IME BECAS initiative to more than $16,000. Total grant dollars, matching funds and in-kind services dedicated to the program since 2011 has been nearly $40,000.
 
Since Daytona State began its relationship with the Mexican Consulate through the IME BECAS program in 2011, 123 adult education and 17 college-credit students have benefitted. Eight have earned certificates, associate or bachelor’s degrees. A majority of these students are members of farm-worker families and reside in rural areas on the west side of the county, according to Daytona State’s ESOL Coordinator Kathryn Clark. While most take classes at the First Baptist Church of DeLeon Springs, Clark said every Daytona State campus has hosted at least one student who has benefitted from the grant.
 
Students use computer-assisted instruction during adult education classes conducted by Daytona State College at First Baptist Church of DeLeon Springs.She added that the opportunity to go to school is life-changing for many. “This grant frees people to make the commitment to pursue their education,” Clark said. “Some who have taken ESOL are now in GED®, and they are moving up and preparing for futures as college students. They are most grateful for the opportunity. Without the economic resources the grant provides, many wouldn’t be able to fulfill their educational goals. Some have had to set them aside for decades.” 
 
A side benefit of the IME BECAS grant is the relationship Daytona State has built with the Mexican Consulate. It not only provides financial assistance to the students via the grant, representatives also meet with students to make them aware of the consular services that are provided to Central Florida residents. The college also has become a member of the consulate’s Central and North Florida Education Committee, formed this summer and composed of representatives of 30 schools and community action agencies, whose mission is to provide a coordinated effort in the educational development of migrant families and bilingual students.
 
Established in 2003, the IME BECAS Scholarship Program is designed to raise the education levels of the Mexican and Mexican-American communities in the United States. Grants are provided to educational institutions and non-profit social organizations across the U.S. to train Mexican immigrants and Mexican-Americans interested in continuing their education and jobs skills development. The program’s ultimate goal is to help Mexican communities living abroad to better assimilate into their extended societies by opening doors of economic opportunity through education and workforce training.
 
The Sister Cities Association of Volusia County is a non-profit organization which promotes international exchanges between cities and people. The organization is twinned with Campeche, Mexico and Bayonne, France, to establish mutually beneficial cultural, educational and business opportunities.
 
Last year, nearly 250 students of Mexican origin attended Daytona State, including international students from Mexico and Mexican-American citizens. The vast majority enrolled in the college’s School of Adult Education. All U.S. citizens of Mexican descent and international students from Mexico are eligible for the IME scholarship.
 
For more information about the program, call (386) 506-3820.

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MORE: Offering more than 100 certificate, associate and bachelor’s degree programs, Daytona State College is the leader in education and workforce training needs of Volusia and Flagler counties and beyond for more than 60 years. The College enrolls nearly 25,000 students a year at its seven instructional sites, with graduates serving in critical fields including healthcare, emergency services/public safety, business, education, hospitality, engineering, technology, digital media, and more. 

Daytona State has been recognized as a leader in higher education numerous times, consistently by U.S. News & World Report, which ranks the College among the Top Tier Best Online Bachelor’s Programs. The U.S. Department of Education’s College Affordability and Transparency Center has ranked DSC among the top 50 most affordable public four-year institutions in the country, with less than half the tuition of the national average. Community College Week, a leading publication in higher education, annually continues to feature the college in its list of Top 100 Associate Degree Producers. And U.S. News & World Report has ranked DSC among its Top Online Bachelor’s Programs for Veterans multiple times.

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