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Mel Gravely

A Personal Head Start Story: Dr. Chanda Nicole Holsey


Head Start provided a foundation for me to reach higher heights and deeper depths.

I am Dr. Chanda Nicole Holsey and before I attended any other educational institutions, I was a Head Start kid.

I hail from Los Angeles, California; however, I resided in the Atlanta area for 15 years after I completed college. I attended graduate school in Atlanta. I went to Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University and earned a Masters of Public Health (MPH) degree. Later, I elected to enroll back into graduate school at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), School of Public Health, to complete the goal of earning a terminal degree. In 2005, I graduated with a Doctor of Public Health degree in the area of Maternal and Child Health.

One of my proudest professional experiences was being recognized by the Federal Head Start Bureau as one of 11 former Head Start Program Success Stories. This happened on November 30, 2005, at the Head Start 40th Year Anniversary Celebration in Maryland.

Another memorable accolade that happened that same year, was being asked to give the keynote address to a group of Head Start parents in a Los Angeles program at their Policy Council Recognition Dinner. This was humbling for me because I was able to impact Head Start parents in the same city in which I began my vast educational career as a Head Start student. I was able to be an encouragement and help parents realize how far their children could succeed in life.

I have a passion for imparting into student’s lives, from infant to the university level and beyond. I have taught for various post-secondary institutions in both traditional and online modalities for over four years. I enjoy helping students learn and work towards their goal of earning a quality education.

Personally, in my rare down time, I enjoy reading, attending professional football games, volunteering, and traveling both nationally and internationally. I am married and we have two daughters. My husband serves as an enlisted Petty Officer in the US Navy.

The life of a military family has a unique set of difficulties in addition to the typical civilian ones, but though hope, family togetherness, and mutual respect and understanding between all parties, you can make it through the challenges. When I look at my life in retrospect, I truly believe that being exposed to Head Start at a young age helped lay the foundation for me to appreciate family involvement, achieve academic success, and be adaptable and flexible. Through Head Start, I learned to socialize at an early age, appreciate learning, and experience the feeling of being cared for by a “village” and developing an expectation for community involvement—both as a volunteer and receiver. These are all attributes that I have implemented in my adult life, family life, and professional career. In summary, Head Start has provided a solid foundation for me to reach higher heights and deeper depths. I will continue to apply the skills, experiences, and knowledge received from Head Start in my adult existence in order to soar as high and dive as deep as feasibly possible.

Yes, we made our way.



  1. Elijah Saunders,M.D. says:

    What a wonderful testament to Head Start.I happen to live in Baltimore and drive daily by the Head Start program,sponsored by Union Baptist Church.I have known its various directors over the years and have heard of the good things they do and the difference they have made in young peoples’ lives.However,seeing Dr.Holsy on the other end and working with her as a co-professional have made it possible to see first-hand what Head Start can do.I am glad this is being shared over the internet.It also makes those of us who work with Dr.Holsey,appreciate her more,knowing her background.

    • Wallace Johnson says:

      A great story worthy of a book and movie so we can all be inspired! An ispiration to students everywhere.

      • S.B. Curry, M.D. says:

        Very good. Continue to spread the word.

        • Ouida Morrison says:

          As an employee of Head Start it is gratifying to me to hear of such success story, at least I know our efforts are not in vain. Congratulation on your success and that you do recognize the value of Head Start in children’s lives.

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