• Rita Rey

Monica’s Purpose as a Head Start Alumna

Updated: Mar 3

Monica at Capitol Hill

Monica Vicente is a 2019 Summer Intern for the National Migrant Seasonal Head Start Association.  She lives in Middletown, NY and is a proud Agri-Business Child Development alumna.  She’s currently a rising sophomore at Lehman College, where she studies nursing.  Her goal is to become a nurse practitioner after having first obtained a master’s degree in nursing.

She considers nursing a noble career, having high morals and principles that reflect on her parents’ teachings growing up.  This career is her way of giving back to her community.  Please continue reading this interview to learn more about how Head Start shaped a better future for Monica.

What is your family’s background?

 My parents migrated to the United States from Mexico for the same reasons many families do: to provide a better life for my family.  My parents arrived at this country with nothing.  My father started working in the fields, as there was no other choice.  I have vivid memories of my father coming home from work with no designated time of arrival.  He would turn the barrels of paint to sit and eat his dinner.  That is what our life was like for the first few years, it was our only choice. 

What is an obstacle you overcame?

The most difficult challenge I faced was growing up with parents who had migrated to the United States.  My mother would stay home to care for me and taught me everything she knew.  However, I lacked some basic academic skills and only knew the Spanish language.  I was enrolled in Head Start at a young age where I was given the opportunity to interact with students that were going through the same circumstances as myself.  Through this I was guided by great teachers that showed me the life of education, through this program I learned the English language, the alphabet, and numbers.  Being part of the Head Start program gave me an insight in my society, showing me how some of us faced similar struggles.  The only difference was the effect it had on us.  I learned to embrace it, to be proud of my parents for the sacrifices they made to provide me with the great opportunities this country has to offer.

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What do you remember from the ABCD Head Start program you attended?

One of my favorite memories was spending time with my mother while learning.  The Head Start program is unique, it is not only educating children and preparing them for kindergarten, but also caring for the parents as well.  My mother started volunteering at ABCD while I attended.  She loved her experience as a volunteer! It was her first interaction with people upon arriving to the country.  The staff at ABCD took my family in with open arms, just like they continue doing so today with thousands of families around the country.  My mother is now working as a Head Start teacher and is a Parent Ambassador.  She also came as a parent to Washington, D.C. to advocate, and now it is my turn!  The growth I saw in my family and in the Head Start program today is the reason why I continue to proudly represent Head Start.

What do you expect to gain from this internship?

 From this internship I hope to become more educated in the Head Start program and continue advocating for it.  I would like to take this further and apply it into my profession.  I would do this by participating as a Policy Council member.  Being on Capitol Hill and speaking to the staff of United States Senators and Members of the House of Representatives is life changing.  Having them hear my story, being there as a product of Head Start proves the effectiveness of the Head Start program.

Please check back soon to read more about Monica’s summer with East Coast Migrant Head Start Project!

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