As a young child, I had few heroes. Nancy was one of them.
Nancy was my social worker. She came into my life when I was a timid, non-verbal two-year-old who was placed into foster care. I was quickly adopted but Nancy remained in my life, visiting me regularly until third grade, when my family moved to Texas.
What I remember most is that Nancy had a huge heart, and she always brought me the best gifts.
I realize now there was so much intentionality behind her gifts. She would give me games that encouraged verbal interaction and eventually, I would open up and begin to talk. Although my siblings also had social workers who would come see them, no one could compare to Nancy.
The confidence she helped to instill in me made me believe that anything was possible. I broke track records in high school, auditioned to become America’s Next Top Model and visited schools to encourage other kids to pursue their dreams.
Her early impact led me to pursue an associate degree in social work. With Nancy in the back of my mind, I didn’t stop there, I earned a degree in social science and a master’s in social justice. My goal has always been to advocate for those who don’t have a voice.
While in school, I worked as a teacher at a local childcare center. That’s where I began to identify the gaps in training. I love my current role because I get to create trainings that help early educators and caregivers provide a higher standard of learning to the children in their care.
I do what I do so that I can help kids see what’s possible – so that I can be for others what Nancy was for me.
Ashley Hart is the Training and Technical Assistance Specialist, Center for Early Childhood Excellence for United Way for Southeastern Michigan.
Do you have a story to tell? Click here to fill out our form.