As a young family with many obstacles to overcome, my parents knew that they wanted to give their four daughters every advantage that was never afforded to them. So they enrolled each of us in the local Head Start program.
When I was asked to write this post about my experience as a Head Start baby, I called my mom to get better insight since I had limited memory of my time in the program. She laughed as she reminisced about when my sisters and I learned how to hold a crayon properly and how she enjoyed staying in the Head Start classes with us. The more we talked, the more I realized that it wasn’t just about my time as a Head Start baby; it was about being a Head Start family. Although our time in the Head Start program was limited, my whole family has enjoyed lifelong results.
As a Head Start parent my mom was empowered to learn English at the local Adult Education Center and afterwards began to study for her United States citizenship test. She accomplished both tasks and later convinced other extended family members to do the same.
My eldest sister, Petra, received her B.A. in Organizational Leadership from Woodbury University and is a District Director for the Bureau of Workforce Services for the County of Los Angeles. Maria is an active parent advocate at her daughter’s middle school. Gina was a neurosurgery surgical technician and is currently expanding her skills as a cardiovascular surgical technician at a Level II hospital. I recently graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with an M.Ed. in Educational Policy and Planning.
My sisters and I each have a passion for helping people with our unique gifts - gifts which were nourished during our time as a Head Start family.
In honor of Head Start’s 50th Anniversary and Head Start Awareness Month, the National Head Start Association will be highlighting Head Start alumni each weekday in October. We will begin the month with Head Start’s youngest learners and conclude the celebration with the Head Start Class of 1965. As the month progresses, these alumni stories will exemplify the short-term and long-term benefits Head Start has provided for our nation’s most vulnerable children and families for the past 50 years.
Are you or anyone you know a Head Start alum? Share this story and sign up at go.nhsa.org/alumni!