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From the Fields to the Classrooms

Throughout the years, East Coast Migrant Head Start Project has employed hundreds of former farmworker families. Positions varying from bus drivers to center directors. We are proud of being part of their success at building a career. In Newton Grove, Olivia Antonio has been working as a teacher for the past two years. She has a remarkable story to share with us.

Olivia, what can you tell us about your childhood growing up?

Each year, our family would migrate from Florida to North Carolina, then New Jersey and back to Florida again. As a young child, I attended the Newton Grove Center for three years. If it had not been for the Migrant and Seasonal Head Start program, my siblings and I would not have had access to early childhood education services. As I got older, from time to time, I would also work in the fields to help my family make ends meet. I was lucky to have the opportunity of going to college. I attended Fayetteville State University, where I obtained a degree in education. I have five years' experience working for the Head Start program.

Jeniffer, can you share how Olivia has positively influenced you?

This is my first season working as a center bus caregiver at the Newton Grove Center. As soon as Olivia heard about a vacancy at the center, she encouraged me to apply. Before joining ECMHSP, I was working in the fields with other family members. I recently graduated high school and am looking forward to furthering my education. I am saving money to pursue a degree in nursing. Seeing Olivia going to college has motivated me.

I heard you both recently decided to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Can you tell us how that experience was for you?

We decided to get vaccinated to help protect our family and friends. On May 20, our Head Start center hosted a vaccination event for our community. At first, I was scared about receiving the vaccine. I was not sure about the possible side effects. After hearing about my grandpa being the first to receive the vaccine in our family, I instantly told myself that it was now my turn to do it. On the day of the event, Jeniffer and I decided to get our first dose of the vaccine. We picked up the phone and encouraged mom to get vaccinated that day as well. I am happy to say that our family made the right decision. I hope to be able travel back home to Mexico later this year.


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