Kayla Prieto’s motivation to work with underprivileged children stems from her own childhood experiences in school. Growing up, she felt she didn’t have someone to look up to and help her navigate her education.
“I have worked with students of color who are struggling in some way, and it all reminds me of how I grew up and the struggles I went through,” said Prieto, a human development and family studies major with a concentration in early childhood professions. “I want to be of help for students who otherwise would not be receiving that help.”
Prieto has the long term goal of becoming an early childhood teacher. She hopes to leave an impact on the children she works with and to encourage them to accomplish their dreams.
Prieto has been awarded a WomenGive scholarship to help her continue her dream of working with diverse young children. In 2019, the WomenGive Scholarship was established at CSU to help ease the burden of student debt for future early childhood educators.
A program of United Way of Larimer County, WomenGive was started in 2006 by a group of passionate and caring women who came together to support other women as they pursued education in order to achieve self-sufficiency. The program is comprised of a network of more than 500 members who use their financial resources to help women in Larimer County achieve economic self-sufficiency by providing support and financial assistance in the form of child-care scholarships to help single parents work towards a college degree.
“I am so excited Kayla is the recipient of the WomenGive scholarship given her academic record, commitment to young children, and interest in issues around diversity,” said Karen Rattenborg, executive director of the Colorado State University Early Childhood Center. “She completed her practicum at the ECC in spring 2019, so she definitely feels like a fit to me.”
Need for teachers is great
Rattenborg shared that the need for early childhood educators in our community is great. At this time, Larimer County needs more than 1,000 additional qualified early childhood teachers to meet the current demand for early care and education in our community.
“Supporting future early childhood educators with scholarships to pursue their education highlights WomenGive’s commitment to early care and education as an important aspect of community well-being,” said Rattenborg.
“I am very grateful to have received this scholarship,” said Prieto. “Opportunities like these are what allow me to stay motivated to keep pushing towards my dreams.”
CSU offers two options for students interested in pursuing careers in early childhood education. One option is to major in human development and family studies with a concentration in early childhood professions. The second option is a collaboration between the Center for Educator Preparation within the School of Education and the Department of Human Development and Family Studies. This is a competitive-entry major in early childhood education requiring an application in the sophomore year for possible admission in the junior year.
The early childhood education degree enables students to apply for early childhood teacher licensure and Director Qualification in the state of Colorado, and qualifies students to engage in a number of early childhood professions including teaching grades P-3 in public or private schools in Colorado, teaching in Head Start or other preschool or childcare programs, establishing a business as a family or center care provider, or serving as director of a childcare center.
The Department of Human Development and Family Studies is part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.