SAN LUIS, AZ — From San Luis, Arizona, a small border town, a young migrant farm worker found a way to get his education and serve his country, all while overcoming many obstacles along the way.
At one of the most stressful times ever, Cadet Juan Laguna managed to graduate with not one, but two majors and a minor. Laguna was born in San Luis Rio Colorado in Sonora, Mexico but raised in San Luis, Arizona.
A migrant farmworker who recently reached a new milestone thanks to ASU's College Assistance Migrant Program and the U.S. Army ROTC.
"It's been a journey. I don't have to work in the fields anymore," said Laguna.
For generations, his family has harvested the fruits and vegetables we find at the grocery store, an essential job under this pandemic, but underpaid throughout the years.
"My parents work every day in the fields, but it's not enough money to sustain a family of six, so it was hard. It's a small town, and we don't have a lot of opportunities," said Laguna.
Despite the obstacles, Laguna became the first in his family to break the pattern by obtaining not one but three college degrees.
He's graduating with a double major in political science and history as well as a minor in military science.
"Everyone in my family works in the fields, and they're taking advantage of every day, so I was like, I have to learn the laws and politics to see how I can help them," said Laguna.
Cadet Laguna is one of the first students to graduate from ASU's College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) which provides academic and financial support to students from migrant and seasonal farmworker families.
In Laguna's case, he also got to experience his first trip in an airplane when the program flew him to an internship opportunity in California.
"It was amazing! It was a great adventure," added Laguna.
Laguna is the first to graduate from college in his family, but he isn't stopping there. He plans to apply to law school after he completes his four years of military service as part of the ROTC program.
"If you want to join the program, go ahead, it's a life-changer," said Laguna.
But it takes a village, he thanks his professors, mentors, friends, and parents: "I can't [ever] thank them enough. I love you so much."