Velada and A’Shaela
by Nicole Blais, Director of Family & Community Engagement
Educators often wonder what happens to the children they have in their preschool classrooms. Did they graduate High School? Did they stay in the community? What did they grow up to be? I had the opportunity to check in with a past Early Head Start alumnae and her mother and it was a heartwarming reunion.
More than 18 years ago, Velada (shown seated above), mother of two, enrolled her youngest, nine month old A’Shaela, in our Early Head Start program at the Mason Square Head Start center in Springfield. A recommendation from a visiting nurse, Velada intentionally put her baby on the path of school readiness and A’Shaela has been reaping the benefits of that decision ever since. Once immersed in the program, Velada was elected to the parent and community led Policy Council-an advisory group that helps drive quality programming at Head Start. She left a lasting impression as a thoughtful and devoted parent.
From a close-knit family, A’Shaela has been enveloped by a circle of support that includes her mom, sister, grandparents and friends. She had an incredible high school career graduating from Williston Northampton School with a 3.8 GPA. There she created connections for herself that aided in her successful transition to Elon University otherwise known as a “baby ivy” in North Carolina.
A’Shaela is laser focused with a clear vision for herself and her future. Adjusting to college life, she has pushed herself and at times out of her comfort zone to obtain new experiences. In addition to her schoolwork, she held 2 jobs on campus and pledged Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority — of which her mother is also a member.
A’Shaela has set her sights on studying abroad in France, and when she graduates hopes to start a career at Price Water Coopers, only the second largest professional services firm in the world; a very determined young woman and I am pretty sure she gets it from her mama, a determined woman in her own right.
Advice they would give students and parents; Velada offers this to fellow parents, “create a village for your children, and give them opportunities” and A’Shaela wants children to know, “dream big, stay focused, don’t be afraid to leave and do not be afraid to shine”.
I am quite certain this will not be the last time we hear from this dynamic duo. Congratulations A’Shaela on all of your accomplishments and keep on shining.
by Nicole Blais, Director of Community Engagement