“We’re here to lend a helping hand,” says Ruben Rubio, the chair of the ABAC Familia Council. The Council held their second annual gathering known as the “ABAC Familia Fiesta” where past and present students along with their friends and families can share their experiences and ideas to advocate for their goals while enjoying food, music, and family.

The night kicked off with a speech given by the keynote speaker, Ernesto Ortiz, a prominent ABAC alumnus. As ABAC’s first recipient of the Goizueta scholarship, Ortiz used his time at ABAC earning a bachelors in political science as well as in nursing. Ortiz has worked in Washington D.C. with the Southern Pines Migrant Program’s Leadership Academy and now works as the nurse manager at Tift Regional Hospital.

Ortiz delivered an inspiring message of sacrifice and overcoming as a child of immigrant parents. His speech detailed the struggles his family went through, moving to a different country and experiencing culture shock while having to start their lives over. His experience of coming from an immigrant family and struggling to afford college is unfortunately not unique, but with ABAC’s help, the transition is made easier, particularly the College Assistance Migrant Program and the High School Equivalency Program. When discussing these programs, Ortiz said, “Many of them were first-time college students, and the CAMP and HEP program let them know ‘Hey, you can do it!’

With the addition of the ABAC Familia Council, prospective students will have access to more assistance as the council’s main purpose is promoting progress and activities for providing scholarships for students of migrant seasonal farm working or disadvantaged backgrounds. The Familia Council’s annual goal of raising $5,000 will go into providing 5 scholarships for students coming from these backgrounds.

The council wishes for ABAC students to know they are there to lend a helping hand. If not financially, then to provide guidance to help students progress in their academic efforts. With the Familia Fiesta, the council offers ABAC students of all backgrounds to come together and bring forth their shared experiences and ideas to help each other progress. “We don’t call it a reunion, because it’s also open to family and friends. It is a celebration of us being together and getting to be a part of something greater than ourselves,” says Rubio. The council welcomes all. They are always looking forward to growing the family.

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