Supporting transfer students

Cargill is creating opportunities for Dodge City transfer students to attend K-State

“Where are you from?”

For student Marissa Ramirez, this question does not just refer to where she currently resides, but where she was born and raised: Zacatecas, Mexico.

When her family immigrated to the United States, Marissa’s parents hoped to provide new opportunities for her and her brother, such as attending college and finding a rewarding career. So, the Ramirezes found their new home in Dodge City, Kansas, where there were available job and education opportunities.

Each member of Marissa’s family experienced unique challenges in their move to the United States. While all of them faced a language barrier, her parents were focused on finances, and she and her brother were faced with beginning a new school. As her brother entered his senior year of high school and Marissa began sixth grade, they also started to teach themselves English, starting with the ABC’s.

“In Mexico, I did not have to worry about the language barrier, being the new kid, or being the first-generation college student,” Marissa said. “Now, I have the experience of and wisdom that come from both living in another country and immigrating to another. Moving to the United States makes me appreciate where I came from even more.”

Marissa attended Dodge City Community College for a year, where she decided she wanted to pursue a career in construction science. When she toured K-State, it immediately felt like home. Marissa felt an immediate sense of belonging and community at K-State and that everyone was willing to help her.

After deciding to attend K-State, Marissa received the Cargill Transfer Scholarship. Marissa’s parents have been working for Cargill since they moved to Dodge City 12 years ago. Today, Marissa’s brother also works at Cargill. Receiving this scholarship has a special meaning to Marissa because Cargill has played such a large role in her family’s story.

“Cargill is the place that has helped my family through financial hardships,” Marissa said. “Cargill is not only the place that helps pay the bills, but it is the place that has helped me, the first-generation student, follow my dream of attending college.”

Cargill Transfer Program

The Cargill Transfer program is focused around supporting first-generation students in Dodge City by increasing the community college transfer rate and reducing barriers to university education. The scholarship is extended to children of Cargill employees and supports two years at Dodge City Community College and two years at K-State for students studying agriculture, business or engineering.

A unique component of the Cargill Transfer program is the College-for-a-Day Institute. The institute brings potential students to K-State and provides an immersive experience where they can interact with peer mentors, learn about the college environment and participate in learning experiences in fields such as agriculture and business.

Mirta Chavez, executive director of diversity and multicultural student affairs, developed this program with Cargill in response to their desire to increase higher education opportunities within the Dodge City Community, and especially for Cargill Plant employee families.

“This initiative has a special place in my heart,” Mirta said. “My parents worked in the meat packing industry while I was growing up. It was through higher educational attainment that took me from starting school in kindergarten without knowing how to speak English to currently serving as the interim associate vice president for Diversity and Multicultural Student Affairs at K-State. This is just one example of the type of impact that higher education has in changing lives.”

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