Lisa Marie Baker
How does one go from a kitchen aide to a statewide coordinator role at their place of employment? Lisa Marie Baker is the person to ask.
Lisa, whose parents came to the United States from Puerto Rico, lives in Hinseville, GA with her husband and is bilingual in Spanish and English. After starting out as a kitchen aide at a Georgia Migrant Head Start center, she gradually rose in the ranks, going from Bus Aide to Teacher Assistant to Preschool Teacher. But while she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education at Ashford, she kept setting her sights even higher at her company – and it paid off. “Due to obtaining my Bachelor’s degree, I received a promotion as State Education Coordinator,” shares Lisa proudly. In this role, she oversees the education department of three Migrant Head Start centers for the state of Georgia.
Perhaps Lisa owes much of her tenacity and strength of character to the intense experiences she has overcome. At age 17 and during her senior year of high school, she was diagnosed with leukemia. “Having cancer at a young age was a big shock. The process was not easy, but I continued to smile and believe in God.” Despite being wheeled directly to her graduation ceremony, which she was allowed to leave the hospital for, she was able to walk down the aisle in her weakened state to receive her diploma. “During the ceremony it started to rain a little bit, and I looked up to the sky and saw a beautiful rainbow. I knew from that moment that a new beginning was coming to me.”
After being declared cancer-free, Lisa knew she’d love to work with children herself, so she earned her certificate as an Infant and Toddler Specialist and an Associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education before enrolling at Ashford. “I’d worked very hard to obtain my Associate’s degree and wanted a college that would allow me to transfer as many of those credits as possible. I also enjoy taking courses online. It works with my full-time job schedule, and I also gain more knowledge by researching information for assignments. Plus, Ashford’s administrators are great people.”
True to her character, Lisa continued to set the bar even higher by pursuing her Master of Arts in Education, Early Childhood specialization at Ashford, and graduated in November 2012 at age 29. She looks forward to continuing to grow in her role as educator by focusing in on family services. “Families are so important in the life of young children because parents are their first educator. As a future early childhood educator, I would like to teach society the importance of education and of establishing a strong family foundation. I would like to be that special person that makes a difference in someone’s life through education or building unity.
“For me, each day that I live is a blessing and each year that I live is a miracle,” continues Lisa. “I love and enjoy life. This is the reason I want to continue to excel, both personally and professionally.”