Sandy’s passion for early childhood is rooted in her personal experiences as a child. When she was entering preschool, her parents selected a facility that was affordable and close to home. Unfortunately, it quickly became clear that Sandy was not receiving the level of care that her parents hoped. They began to look elsewhere, and eventually found a preschool that met their standards for her care. However, in order for Sandy to receive the education that her parents dreamed for her, they would have to make incredible financial sacrifices. They chose to put her education first, and shouldered that burden to provide the best opportunity for their child.
Sandy carried this knowledge and experience with her as she grew up. In college, she decided to channel her passion for early childhood education into a degree in child development. During this time, she took an internship at a preschool serving highly affluent, predominantly white families. Sandy saw firsthand what wealth can buy for a child’s development. She saw the impact of a quality education not just on the children, but on the families as a whole. Parents fully trusted that their children were receiving the highest level of care available, and experienced a sense of ease not often afforded to low-income parents. Sandy started thinking “what if every child and every family had access to this same level of care?”.
This question led her to consider how she might most effectively impact the early childhood sector. Ultimately, Sandy decided to pursue a Master’s in Education Policy. Through this program, she was exposed to issues facing young people at all stages of education. Sandy’s passion for early childhood was reignited. She learned that access to comprehensive support at a young age – even before birth – is essential. Upon graduation, Sandy began to search for a position that would allow her to launch her career in the early childhood policy space. She also sought an opportunity that would allow her to lend voice to the experiences of families of color, like hers.
Sandy found what she was looking for at Pathwaves: an opportunity to directly serve families and communities of color and to be a part of a community of BIPOC women building collective power in the early childhood policy space. Through the Pathwaves Fellowship, Sandy can pursue her passion for the sector while also continuing to develop her racial equity skills. During the interview process, Sandy became particularly interested in her placement site, Washington State Association of Head Start & ECEAP (WSA). She was particularly impressed by how WSA centers the voices of parents and teachers in the policy space. Sandy also recognized their commitment to creating an inclusive work environment that supports her growth. Sandy is excited to continue to learn and grow as a member of their small and mighty team, and hopes to support the development of an Equity and Policy committee at WSA.
Sandy is deeply aware that it is not enough to simply have BIPOC leaders in the room, they must be equipped with tools and resources to use their voices in spaces where policies are being made. Looking ahead, Sandy desires to hold true to her values and boldly share her community’s stories in these spaces. The need is urgent, and this cohort of Pathwaves Fellows is answering the call. Sandy feels empowered by her community of peer Fellows. She is hopeful that, together, they can cultivate change in the field of early childhood policy.