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Gwendolyn Wilson

–  Gwendolyn Wilson, O.C.E.A.N., Inc., Toms River, NJ

Gwendolyn Wilson

I am a 1979 Head Start graduate. I always told myself: "Gwen, when you grow up you are going to be a teacher." I never considered the educational perspective of this adventure that I desired; but, the whole twist of this is that, today I am a family partner/social worker.

When hardship struck and the economy was falling hard on working families like mine, I had no choice but to go to college in 2009. I was inspired to pursue a degree in social work, because of my compassion for community activities, volunteering, and being a resource parent for foster children and families. Before receiving my degree, my career advisor whispered some thoughts that put me on the path toward where I would be employed. I had in mind two places that would be my place of employment; so, after receiving my degree, I took the first journey to Head Start. I embraced my education, professionalism, positive attitude, and experience to pursue my passion for Head Start employment.

To make a long story short, I was in "awe" upon receiving the official phone call that I was accepted as an employee at a Head Start school. At that program, I was passionate that we could provide school readiness, family engagement, and a breath of inspiration that all things could be accomplished. Now, I am receiving calls from families that I have inspired, as they experience Head Start. For example, a mom from one of my families, who is a single parent with three children, called the other day to tell me "thank you" for the resources, advocacy, empowerment, and encouragement. She is now a licensed hair stylist who has moved to Georgia to pursue her career. I have been employed at Head Start for almost three years, and if these are the rewards to reap—I'll keep them.