My name is Laura Marie Clifford; I am thirty one years old, and a mother of two beautiful girls. Kenisha is three years old and Marjorie is sixteen months old. I graduated high school from Little Wound High School back in 1997. I enrolled to take college classes that fall semester. I lasted two and a half semesters, before dropping out. I regretted doing that because; here I am thirty one years old and just received a two year degree from Oglala Lakota College. It’s really quite an achievement for me because I will be the first one out of my family to get an associate of arts in Early Childhood. I will be the first one to graduate from Oglala Lakota College this past summer. My dad would have been so proud; I am the youngest girl out of one older sister, three older brothers and one younger brother. My oldest brother David Collins Clifford Jr passed away in 1997 from a drowning accident, my father passed away in 2004. Since then my family seems that it all fell apart. Now I have a family of my own, I enjoy my family and thank god for my beautiful daughter’s because I know that my father and brother are watching over us.
I began volunteering my free time with children ages 4 to 5 years old. At that time my mother was the Teacher for Manderson Head Start I. There became a teacher’s assistant position, so I applied. I got the job within a few weeks. I worked a couple years and wasn’t aware that my job was advertised, one day a lady walked in and said “She was the new teacher’s assistant” and there went my job. Thank goodness they were paying into unemployment. I accepted my job loss and withdrew all my unemployment. The unemployment rate is really high on the Pine Ridge Reservation.
I work at Pine Ridge Head Start for four going on five years in August. Of course I began at the bottom of the barrel. I started as a teacher assistant my first year. Later that following summer, I received a Child Development Associate (CDA). With that I was able to put my job application in for a Teacher’s position. The following school year, I had my very own classroom. I continued to further my education. Head Start encouraged and gave their employees the opportunity to go back to college, so of course I took advantage of this educational opportunity. I worked full time, so I could only take part time. Most of the classes I took were all in the evening and during the summer sessions. With that I have accomplished getting an AA in ECH from OLC this past summer.
My family benefits from Head Start. I was an employee, before I became a parent. My youngest daughter Marjorie is in Pine Ridge Early Head Start. Kenisha has begun school this year, because she turned three on August 15, 2010. I enjoy working with young children. I’m currently working full time and enrolled full time for the fall 2010 semester. I want to continue on with my Bachelors for Early Childhood.
I have overcome many obstacles to be where I am at right now. My biggest concern was going back to college and to get a degree. Having children was an eye opener for me. If it wasn’t for my babies I wouldn’t be where I am today. I need the financial support, because having children is really expensive. They need lots of love and support. When I graduated high school, back in 1997, I didn’t have any type of educational support to further my education at a young age. I find that very disturbing, because it affected me in the long run. Now I am struggling to reach my academic goals. That is something that I don’t want my children to go through. I guess we learn from our parents mistakes, but I shouldn’t blame anyone. I’m slowly succeeding to reach my education goals.
I have been taking classes for a really long time to get my AA in ECH. I just wished I could be a fulltime student and a fulltime employee, for a few more semesters to reach my achievement. With all my achievements that I have made, I will continue to work and service the children in my community at the Pine Ridge Head Start.