Alumni Banner

This month's alumni profile series highlights a new generation of Head Starters making their mark on Capitol Hill. Meet Brianna Tibbetts, legislative assistant in the Office of Congressman Mike Carey (OH-15).

"I attended Head Start in a small town in North Dakota called Dickinson. My mom was a single mom dealing with substance addiction at that time. As a result, we moved a lot. Thankfully, my grandmother was an active part of our lives. She tried to bring as much stability as possible to our family.

I have two concrete memories from Head Start. The first was having to move classrooms because I was exhibiting challenging behavior. I think the positive side to that is Head Start worked with those concerns and found a solution that kept me in a learning environment rather than removing me from school. My other memory is my teacher’s hair was very bouncy. I loved her hair so much that I started walking in a way that I thought would make my hair bounce like hers!

In the years after Head Start, I struggled throughout secondary school, especially with reading and math. It’s hard to focus on academics when there’s instability in your life. Even with those struggles, I can’t imagine what would have happened had I not attended Head Start.

But around the 9th or 10th grade, I started to address some of my academic challenges. I was allowed to take a college-level civics class and I loved it! I don’t know what it was about civics, but this was the first subject that made sense to me. For the first time, I started to excel in school. My grades improved, and I decided to pursue college from that point forward. I took more classes at a community college and earned an Associate’s degree. I continued with school and obtained a Bachelor’s degree. My hard work enabled me to earn scholarships to support my education. In my junior year, I landed a congressional internship. I’ve been on Capitol Hill ever since. I’m currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Educational Policy.

I want to impact people’s lives, and the work I do on Capitol Hill is one way I can do that. My pursuit of an advanced degree in educational policy is because I want to enact changes that will support children like me.

I am thankful for Head Start and its role in my early years. If I could speak to my teacher, I would find out about her hair products and then I would tell her: 'thank you for seeing me as an individual and being so encouraging.'" — Brianna Tibbetts

Malkia Payton-Jackson

Malkia Payton-Jackson is NHSA’s first-ever director of alumni engagement. Back in Cambridge, Head Start is where she made her first best friend — and now, she’s inviting Head Start alumni to connect with one another, share their unique stories, and help keep Head Start strong for generations to come.

Related Content