Leidy Partida, a student in Cal State Long Beach’s (CSULB) College Assistance Migrant Program, has journeyed to the East Coast this summer as a Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) intern where she is serving with the Department of Veterans Affairs—Veterans Health Administration in Perry Point, Md.
The HACU internship follows her previous stint with the National HEP/CAMP Internship Program in Washington, D.C., during summer 2011. That internship was the first time a CSULB student was chosen for the national honor since CAMP was established at the university in 2000.
“I’m very excited to participate in my second internship,” said Partida, who is on her way to earning her bachelor’s degree at CSULB with a double major of criminal justice and human development. “This new internship represents something really new for me outside my majors. I feel this experience will make me a well-rounded individual, and I look forward to the experience of meeting new people and making connections the same way I did during last year’s internship.”
CAMP is a federally funded program that assists students who are migratory or seasonal farmworkers (or children of such workers) enrolled in their first year of undergraduate studies. The program is aimed at promoting continued enrollment and eventual graduation from the university. Services through the program include outreach, counseling, tutoring, skills workshops, financial aid stipends, health services and housing assistance to eligible students during their first year of college. Limited follow-up services are provided to participants after their first year.
HACU was established in 1986 with a founding membership of 18 institutions. Today, HACU represents more than 400 colleges and universities committed to Hispanic higher education success in the United States, Puerto Rico, Latin America, Spain and Portugal. HACU is the only national educational association that represents Hispanic-Serving Institutions such as CSULB.
Partida feels one reason for her distinction is the well-rounded experience she has received as a CAMP student at CSULB. “I bring many different experiences to the table,” she said. “I feel I’m an independent person with pretty good leadership skills who works well with others.”
The oldest daughter of Mexican immigrants, Partida is the first in her family to graduate from high school and the first to pursue a college education. More relevant to the internship, however, is the fact that she has been in the fields picking lima beans with her parents for 13 years, since she was 6 years old.
While in Maryland, Partida expects to participate in several projects, including working with a youth group of 14- to 17-year-old volunteers with the Veterans Administration. She will return from her HACU internship in late August.
Partida feels her first internship helped to prepare her for the second. “These two positions represent two totally different areas,” she said. “My first internship helped to prepare the leadership skills I’ll need for the second. Plus, they originally wanted a graduate student for the position so I interviewed several times so that they understood I am well-qualified. Plus, my first internship yielded good references from ex-bosses for my new bosses.”
Partida thanked CAMP for its help and support. “I feel I was taken under the wing of the program from the beginning,” she said. “I especially want to thank Senior Associate Director Noel Guerrero, University Outreach and School Relations’ Alexandria M. Rosales and CAMP recruiter Jaime Carias, who worked with me in securing my position last year and again for this summer’s HACU placement. They all aided me throughout the process by keeping me aware of any opportunities like these internships.”
Partida is as active on campus as she is off. She is involved with six student organizations including the Student Special Security Operation Team, the Educational Opportunities Program Student Organization, the Leadership Academy, the Grupo Folklorico Mexica and Hermanas Unidas Organization. In addition to her extracurricular activities, Partida completed 57 units during 2011-2012 with a GPA of 3.50.
After completing her undergraduate studies, Partida plans to pursue forensic psychology though a master’s/doctorate program. In the meantime, she continues to work 20 hours every weekend at a nearby ranch harvesting and picking lima beans alongside her parents.