Daughter of migrant workers overcomesRubi Gonzalez truly has earned the high school diploma she will receive on graduation day. Gonzalez, a senior at Midway Public School, Inkster, will graduate May 30, a year ahead of schedule, even though she has moved back and forth with her family between Mexico and North Dakota for most of her grade and high school years. Her father works for a northeastern North Dakota farmer when they live in North Dakota and runs a cattle ranch when the family lives in Mexico.
By: By Ann Bailey , Forum Communications Co. , The Jamestown Sun
INKSTER, N.D. — Rubi Gonzalez truly has earned the high school diploma she will receive on graduation day.
Gonzalez, a senior at Midway Public School, Inkster, will graduate May 30, a year ahead of schedule, even though she has moved back and forth with her family between Mexico and North Dakota for most of her grade and high school years. Her father works for a northeastern North Dakota farmer when they live in North Dakota and runs a cattle ranch when the family lives in Mexico.
Gonzalez went to school at Midway during part of April and May, attended the Migrant School in Manvel, N.D., during the summer, returned to Midway School in late August and continued there through September and part of October. During the remainder of the school year, she attended school in Los Romones, in northern Mexico,
Gonzalez long has had her sights on getting her degree, said Monica George, Midway Public School science teacher.
“School has always been important to her. She is an exemplary student,” George said. She had a plan that took her above and beyond what most kids do at that age,”
Gonzalez said she has persevered through challenging circumstances because she wants to get a degree.
“You get a better life.”
The path to that life has not been without stumbling blocks.
Although dividing her school year between Mexico and the U.S. didn’t present a problem when Gonzalez was in grade school, she learned when she was a freshman in high school that some of her credits from Mexico wouldn’t transfer to Midway Public School.
When Don Rood, secondary teacher at the Migrant School in Manvel, learned of Gonzalez’s situation, he enrolled her in the Portable Assisted Study Sequence Program or PASS at the Migrant School. Meanwhile, for the past two years, Gonzalez also lived with relatives in Rio Grande City, Texas, instead of in Mexico, when she left North Dakota. That allowed her to get transfer credits from Texas, which Midway Public Schools would accept.
The PASS program, which is made up of independent study courses, is intensive, Rood said. Gonzalez attended classes from about 8:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. at the Migrant School during the seven-week summer program, and then went home and studied until 9 p.m.
“Rubi is motivated. She has worked so hard under adverse conditions,” Rood said, noting that the word “perseverance” describes Gonzalez’s approach to working toward her graduation credits. Rood was so impressed by Gonzalez’s work ethic and academic ability that he nominated her for the 2010 National PASS Student of the Year award.
Gonzalez won the award and a $1,000 scholarship and flew with her mother, Rood and Rood’s wife, to California on April 15, 2009, to receive the honor.
Participating in the PASS program and the PASS award have given Gonzalez incentive to continue her education, she said. Her goal used to be simply to graduate from high school and get a job. Now that she’s seen what she can accomplish, she plans to attend South Texas College in McAllen, after graduation and study to be a financial manager.
Gonzalez said she is grateful to Rood for his work to help her in her quest to earn the credits she needed to graduate.
“He has really helped me and other students. He has been there for us.”
Her parents, too, have been supportive.
“I really thank them because they support me a lot. They encourage me to study.”
Bailey is a reporter for the Grand Forks (N.D.) Herald, which is owned by
Forum Communications Co.