Impacting diverse communities
“Having my BA has impacted me very positively,” Ingram said. “A great part of the program was that it included courses on family studies—as a family support specialist at Jose Marti Child Development Center at El Centro de la Raza, I’m able to bring that all together by enrolling children into preschool while I help many, many families connect with resources and other services in the community.
“I do outreach at different events to bring as many children as we can who are underserved and underrepresented in Latino communities and people from all backgrounds—African American, Anglo-American. Any child that is in need of being prepared to be ready for kindergarten. All the awesome things I learned at the UW I’m able to directly implement in my daily work with families.”
Gail Joseph, Bezos Family Foundation Distinguished Professor in Early Learning, discusses how the University of Washington's online bachelor's degree in Early Childhood Education program is changing lives by opening access to high quality, affordable and accessible degree options for the early learning workforce.
Sharing tech skills
Ingram said an added benefit of taking an online program was that she improved her technology skills—skills she now passes along to low-income families.
“Quite a few of our families don’t use technology. They don’t have computers at home. More of the lower-income families have never had someone show them how to use it, and they often don’t even use email.”
That lack of access to technology can hold families back. For instance, Ingram noted that this year for the first time, kindergarten enrollment for the Seattle School District needs to be done online.
Passing the torch
“When I was accepted was one of the most awesome days of my life,” Ingram said. “There were times when I had some difficulties in my personal life and my instructors were very supportive, cheering me on all the way.
“And when I graduated, Gail (Joseph) was right there on the stage and it seemed like it was all meant to be. When I walked up on the stage, she had her phone and she took a picture of me on the graduation stage—and that’s the only picture that I have! I have it on my wall. She’s awesome.
“It put me in a position to be in a professional job—and that’s the kind of job I wanted. I wanted to serve families, I wanted to be an example. I wanted to be able to say that even though you come from humble backgrounds or poverty or you think you don’t ever have a chance to have your college degree—you can do it!”
Ingram says she’s recommended the program to multiple people—including her own 22-year-old son Dante Ingram, who’s applied to the program.
“He’s inspired. He wants to work in early childhood education. He’s working toward that goal—and I am really, really proud of that.”