AUSTIN — Outstanding high school migrant students from throughout Texas were recognized during a special ceremony on March 29 during the 23rd annual Migrant Student Recognition Ceremony at The University of Texas at Austin . Edinburg Economedes senior Sofia Velazquez was awarded a $2,000 scholarship and named student of the year at the event.

State Rep. Aaron Peña presented Velazquez and her family with the award.

The ceremony, held at the university’s Union ballroom, honored Texas high school students who completed distance learning courses through the university’s Migrant Student Graduation Enhancement Program in the Division of Continuing & Innovative Education. The program provides flexible courses and support services that enable migrant students to meet or exceed high school graduation requirements.

“Sofia’s commitment and dedication to her studies has certainly paid off,” said Rep. Peña.

“This special recognition and scholarship award are a testament to values of hard work and perseverance learned from family struggles and long days under the hot sun in the fields of Illinois . It was an honor to present this award and scholarship to such a deserving student.”

Velazquez is currently ranked second in her class of 696 at Johnny Economedes High School. Since her junior year, she has been a member of the Business Professionals of America, Spanish National Honor Society, Sky’s the Limit Migrant Club, University Interscholastic (UIL) Science Team, and the school’s cheerleading squad. Currently, Sofia serves as president of the National Honor Society, vice president of the Green Club, and team captain of the UIL Extemporaneous Speaking Team. Through these organizations, Sofia has accumulated more than 300 hours of community volunteer hours.

Forty exemplary migrant students featured in the “2010 Exemplary Migrant Students” publication were recognized during the ceremony. Rep Peña presented college scholarships to five students, including the two Exemplary Migrant Students of the Year, the top two Exemplary Migrant Students and for the first time the winner of a creative award.

All five $2,000 scholarships were provided by the Exxon Mobil Foundation, which has given annual scholarships to the program since 2002.

Since it began more than two decades ago, the Migrant Student Graduation Enhancement Program has enrolled more than 25,000 students in its mission to increase the graduation rate of high school migrant students in Texas . With funding from the Texas Education Agency and gifts from the Beaumont Foundation of America, the Exxon Mobil Foundation, the John G. and Marie Stella Kenedy Memorial Foundation and the Microsoft Corporation, the program helps Texas migrant students earn high school credits through distance learning courses that meet Texas curriculum requirements.