A passion for education and the desire to give back to her community became central to Nalie H’s life as a young child. Born and raised in St. Paul, Nalie the second oldest of eight children is a proud graduate of Community Action Partnership of Ramsey & Washington Counties’ Head Start Program. Her parents, who came to Minnesota after leaving a Hmong refugee camp, initially struggled to navigate their new life in the United States. Fortunately, they found that there were many resources and people of goodwill in their new community willing to lend her family a hand.
One critical resource that Nalie’s parents accessed early on came courtesy of Community Action and its Head Start Program. As a student at the Ruth Benner Head Start Center, Nalie developed a lifelong love of learning. After high school she moved on to the University of Minnesota earning her B.A. in computer science. Now, while she cultivates a promising career in the field of technology, Nalie credits the early literacy and math skills she gained from Head Start with putting her on the path to success.
Nalie is deeply grateful for the support she received from Community Action and believes it is important that she now share her own blessings with others—a lesson she imparts on her own children. Her kids, seven-year old Adelyn and four-year old Armin, both spend time volunteering with Community Action. This spring they assembled summertime kits for Head Start families. While Adelyn is fully aware of the purpose of making these kits, Armin, while having a good time, is not yet sure what it is all about. But Nalie knows his understanding will come in time, noting that “I want to teach my children the importance of giving and the positive impact it makes in our community and the world. If I didn’t get the support I did growing up, I likely wouldn’t have been able to experience and achieve the things I have. The least we can do as a family is help pay it forward.”