Daughter of farm workers, CSU Bakersfield student wins CSU’s first honor | New



For as long as she can remember, Jazmin Barrita Barrita has helped her parents harvest black beans and corn from the fields of her native Oaxaca. But it was a gray November morning in a Bakersfield vineyard when she was 11 that convinced this curious and sensitive girl that farm work was not for her. Ice had formed on the vines and seemed to seep into his bones. It’s never been so cold in Mexico, she remembered thinking.

“I felt like I couldn’t move, so I lay down on the floor. My dad told me to get up because I was going to be cold.

“He called the secateurs in his hand his computer. “If you don’t want that kind of computer, go to school. “

Taking into account his wise advice: “Échale! He would tell her, translating roughly to “give it all you got” – Barrita will be graduating in accounting and a minor in economics from CSUB in the spring.

But before her, this girl from Mexico and the San Joaquin Valley – who didn’t speak a word of English until the age of 13 – will receive the highest honor bestowed on students at California State University: the 2021 CSU Trustees’ Award for Outstanding Achievement. Of the 500,000 students enrolled in the country’s largest and most diverse public higher education system, Jazmin is one of only 23 at CSU to receive this honor.

As a Michael A. and Debe Lucki scholar, Barrita will receive a scholarship of $ 6,000.

“I couldn’t believe it, honestly,” Barrita said, recalling her reaction to the news. “It makes me so proud, that everything I did was worth it. This is my American dream, because I am an immigrant.

CSUB President Lynnette Zelezny praised Barrita for her exceptional scholarship and selfless service to others.

“It is impossible to overstate the importance of this honor,” said Dr Zelezny. “I want to congratulate Jazmin and his parents. As a mother myself, I know the great joy that comes when your children reveal their character through persistence and hard work. Jazmin’s parents raised a bright and compassionate daughter who is a shining light for our university and the whole region.

Barrita’s parents Juan Barrita Reyes and Leticia Barrita Ramirez said their daughter has always had their unconditional support to continue her education.

“She’s where she is because of who she is,” her father said in Spanish. “She is the daughter of farm workers and will be the first college graduate in our family. Apart from all that she is and what she does, she is our life and we love her very much.

Barrita appreciates all that her parents sacrificed to allow her to continue her education at CSUB.

“Last summer was the last time I worked in the fields,” said Barrita, who turns 21 in October. “I hope I never have to do it again. It is very hard work.


The Barrita family moved from Mexico to Bakersfield when Jazmin was 13. Her parents had no intention of staying as they navigated the process to become legal residents of this country, but complications arose and they were afraid to leave the United States. During the first months of their life in Bakersfield, the family of seven lived in a one-room garage and the children, including Jazmin, did not go to school. It was the lowest point of her life, she said.

“I missed my house, my friends, my family, even the food,” she said. “But I was also afraid to go to school. I didn’t speak English and felt so helpless.

Eventually, Barrita enrolled at East Bakersfield High and was greeted by a support system designed to help migrant children.

In her senior year, Barrita met Jisel Cornejo, a college counselor at East Bakersfield High, who recognized Jazmin as a motivated student who was willing to do the considerable work required to learn English and navigate the application process. often confusing.

“Students with an immigrant background face many obstacles,” said Cornejo, a CSUB alumnus, who now works as an advisor at the university’s Academic Resource and Advisory Center.

“Language is a big obstacle. For migrant families, it can be difficult to have parents present at school or to be able to attend evening workshops.

Cornejo persuaded Jazmin to apply to several colleges, and the Barrita family placed their hopes in CSUB. Because the family lived in east Bakersfield, Cornejo personally visited CSUB to file the required forms.

“That’s when I remembered the CAMP program,” Cornejo said.

The College Assistance Migrant program, which accepts 75 CSUB students per academic year, is funded and administered by the US Department of Education to assist farm workers or their children enrolled in the first year of undergraduate study.

CAMP was established at CSUB in 2000. Records of the on-campus program date back to 2010, and between that date and 2019, approximately 700 CSUB students have benefited from the personal advice, guidance, tutoring and encouragement provided by the CSUB. program.

Barrita was one of those students and now helps others as CAMP’s academic mentor.

“I am grateful for the support the CAMP program has given me at CSUB. My parents don’t know anything about college or what it’s like to be in college. I cannot ask them for advice. This is why CAMP means so much to me. We call it our CAMP family.

Just as Jazmin helps migrant students find their place in college, she uses her accounting training to help low-income families complete their tax returns through a program coordinated by the Community Action Partnership of Kern.

“I took my first accounting course in seventh year in Mexico,” she said. “It’s not that easy because it’s not seventh year anymore, but I still like it.”

Barrita intends to become a Chartered Accountant when she graduates from CSUB and hopes to find employment in the community that has become her and her family’s home.

“One of my goals is to help my parents financially. It is impossible to pay for all their sacrifices, but I hope to help them someday when they grow up.

But Barrita has already honored their sacrifices, her mother said, through her accomplishments and the example she set for her siblings.

“She can do everything: work in the fields, work in an office, study. She is a very good girl – una niña muy buena.

Jennifer Self is the university’s public information officer.


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