Meet Mikela, a passionate advocate for early childhood education and new mom to a beautiful baby girl named Brooke. Her new life as a mother has only deepened her connection to early childhood education.
For the past three years, Mikela has served as chair of the Start Early Affiliates Board (SEAB), a group made up of young leaders and professionals who work together to extend the reach of Start Early and its commitment to ensuring all children from birth to age 5 have access to the highest-quality care and education.
This fall, Mikela and SEAB members are in the thick of planning for their signature event, an evening of networking, socializing and introducing guests to the Start Early’s work.
Recently, Mikela took a break from helping plan the SEAB’s annual event to chat with us about her new life as a mother and why she is so deeply connected to early childhood education.
- What does early childhood education and development mean to you?
Before becoming a mom, early childhood education had always been important to me because I LOVE school. I would have stayed in school forever if it were possible. I remember my mom telling me when I was young that I was lucky I got to go to school every day because there were kids that did not have that same opportunity. This absolutely shocked me. As I grew up, it became glaringly important how critical the early years were for future opportunities. Thus, I volunteered in tutoring, leadership and outreach programs in underserved communities. I saw first-hand that giving these children their best shot at growth and success started long before they stepped foot in kindergarten. It starts at birth, and we must find ways to give those children, and their families and communities, the opportunities so many people take for granted.
- There are so many wonderful causes out there. Why are you passionate about early education and care?
After Brooke was born, the concept of early childhood education transformed for me. I constantly think about the statistics I’ve learned through my work with Start Early about how many words a child hears and learns in their first few months and year of life and the various ways babies’ brains grow and develop starting from birth. I try every day to find new ways to engage Brooke so that her path to success (whatever that means for her!) starts now.
It’s also glaringly apparent that I’m a parent with the incredible benefit of paid leave, a supportive partner, and resources to help Brooke in every way I can. The fact that so many babies do not have the same beginning and many parents have no option but to immediately return to work is heartbreaking. This has only intensified my passion for the work of Start Early, and there is so much we can do to support the programs Start Early provides and the policy work it does. We must advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves.
- Tell us a little bit about what the Start Early Affiliates Board is, your leadership role and what membership looks like.
The SEAB is an incredible collection of young(er) professionals who have a passion for early childhood education. We all come from different backgrounds, careers and life experiences, but are bound by our shared desire to promote Start Early and what it stands for. As chair, I consider myself lucky to be surrounded by so many brilliant people and leaders. The Executive Committee is made up of chairs who are all amazing. They dedicate so much of their time to the SEAB. I genuinely enjoy our meetings and getting to know these wonderful people who dedicate their time to the SEAB and Start Early’s mission.
Speaking of spending time with these people, I’m so excited for our annual event Start Early Bash on Thursday, October 3! This is our third Bash – it has continued to grow into such a fun, high-energy and inclusive event. Attending something like the Bash gives you a good idea of the type of people who make up the SEAB and Start Early itself: brilliant, outgoing, high-achieving people who also care so deeply about early childhood education.