Head Start alumni have gone on to become business owners and artists, musicians and doctors, teachers and Members of Congress. For instance, Danny Glover is a proud Head Start parent. The son of a teacher and delivery truck driver, Chris Rock attended Head Start in Brooklyn, New York. Here are other prominent Head Start alums:
Darren Walker is now the President of The Ford Foundation, the second largest philanthropic organization in the world. In 1965, he was a student in one of the first Head Start programs in rural Texas. The son of a single mom, Dar-ren was born at a Louisiana charity hospital and into poverty. He credits Head Start with breaking that cycle and changing his life. In 2014, he told People magazine the program provided him with "a window into a world beyond my immediate circumstances."
Bonnie St. John lost a leg at a young age, a result of being born with pre-femoral focal disorder. Her Head Start experience in San Diego, California, put her on the path of lifelong learning and remarkable accomplishments. She graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University and earned her Master’s degree in Economics from Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. She also won three medals in the 1984 Paralympics in Austria and served as Director of the White House National Economic Council in the Clinton Administration.
Shaquille O’Neal, former professional basketball player and current television sports analyst, was a student at a Head Start program in Newark, New Jersey. It instilled in him how important education is. Although he left college for a basketball career, he promised his mother that he would return and get his degree. He kept that promise and more. He earned both an MBA and a doctoral degree in education.
Anna Maria Chavez is the first Latina CEO of Girl Scouts of the United States of America, which maintains the distinction of being the world’s largest education organization for young women. She was born into a family of migrant workers and attended Head Start in Eloy, Arizona, where she was introduced to the possibilities of what education could provide.
Denise Juneau has served as Montana’s State Superintendent of Public Instruction since 2008 when she was the first Native American women elected to a statewide public office. She attended Head Start in Billings, Montana, as an educational foundation for academic success that led her to the Harvard Graduate School of Education where she received a Master’s degree.
United States Secretary of Human Services Sylvia Mathews Burwell has fond memories of her experience as a Head Start student. "Two years after Head Start launched nationally, a class was established in my home town of Hinton, West Virginia. In a rural town like Hinton, Head Start was one of the only early educational opportunities around. It meant a lot to the families in my town, and still does.”
Fifty years later, Secretary Burwell’s words ring true in all parts of America where tomorrow’s leaders are being exposed to the Head Start experience.