My name is Samantha Ponce and I am originally from Zion, Illinois. I was born and raised in the United States but my parents are from Mexico (my mom is from Guanajuato and my dad is from Oaxaca). My life in the city of Zion was very comfortable and calm. However in 2020, when the pandemic hit, we were forced to move to Georgia so that my dad could work at a poultry farm. It was an opportunity to not struggle during this hard time, and I thank my father for sacrificing a lot to maintain us.
During my senior year of high school, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do. I was planning on moving back to Illinois to live with my aunt there and attend a community college in my hometown. But that all changed when a recruiter for CAMP at the University of North Georgia called my parents. I didn't know how she got our number or why she was trying to reach me, but she presented me with an opportunity to attend UNG for one year with them (CAMP) covering the costs. This opportunity was too good to pass up. Since I was classified as an out-of-state student, I knew that I for sure would have to pay out of pocket to go to college. Fortunately, I qualified for CAMP because I was the daughter of my dad (a farmworker), and we had moved for his job. I had never heard of such programs that existed like CAMP, so I didn't completely understand how it came to be. While being in the program, I learned a lot about what workers like my father go through, and the horrible circumstances a lot of them are in.
Throughout my first year of college, I developed a strong desire to help this community and give back to them. They are people whose rights shouldn't be taken away, and I want to fight for that. So, when I heard about SAF in a presentation that CAMP gave in one of our weekly cohort meetings, I immediately made it my goal to make it into this amazing organization. I truly am excited to be here and I can't wait to go out and meet farmworkers in South Carolina! 😉