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Mary Alice Buchanan Memorial Scholarship Awarded

Diana Vandergraph with Gayla Hutcheson, WADI County Manager

The scholarship, sponsored by the Illinois Head Start Association, is awarded to any parent, former Head Start child, or staff member working towards completion of a Bachelor's degree in Early Childhood Education.  The $750 education scholarship was awarded to Diana Vandergraph of Fairfield, a former Head Start child and a current WADI staff member.  "Head Start has positively influenced my life in many ways.  Some of my earliest memories are of Head Start field trips, riding with my mom on the little yellow Head Start bus on our way to the pumpkin patch.  We were singing, "The Wheels of the Bus" loudly and laughing." 

Diana has recently completed her Bachelor of Arts degree in Early Childhood Education Administration with a GPA of 3.98 from Ashford University and will be graduating in May of 2011.  She is a substitute teacher for school age Sunday Class School, Toddler Teacher on Wednesday nights, and is the Vice President of Women's Ministries at the Fairfield Church of God.  She volunteers on Fridays at New Hope School. 

"I was enrolled in Head Start at the age of 3 because my mother understood the benefits of having a head start in my education and development and that the program involved the whole family.  I followed in my mother's footsteps, years later, and gladly enrolled both of my children in Head Start.  In 2007, our family proudly received the WADI Family of Distinction Award for Wayne County.  Later that same year, I began working as a Head Start Teacher where my goals of completing a four year degree in an early childhood field began."

"My husband and I had always planned to continue our education but we both worked minimum wage jobs and supporting a family and paying for school didn't seem like it could happen at the same time.  Together we decided, for our families and ourselves, that it was time to go back.  My husband completed his degree in 2009.  Although working full time, raising a family, and going to school is not easy, I have been on the Dean's List each semester."

Diana will be the first person in her family to have a four year degree.  She has been married to her husband, Aaron, for 11 years and they have two children, Hannah (9) and Levi (7).  Diana credits her success to the support and encouragement from family and friends.

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