Story submitted by: Ramona Topete
Family Development Educator – Early Head Start
Child Development Resources of Ventura County, Inc.

This interview was originally published by Child Development Resources in May 2023.

Ramona wanted to share the story about her daughter, Isis Topete, and her experience as a CDR Head Start student in the late 90s and how that journey guided her to a career as a successful pediatric optometrist.

“I didn’t know about Head Start back then,” said Ramona. “When my daughter was four, somebody in my family told me, you need to enroll your daughter in the Head Start Program,” she said.

Ramona remembers clearly how the experience was transformative not only for her daughter, and eventually her younger son, but also for herself as a parent. It wasn’t long after that Ramona was presented with an opportunity to fulfill her own childhood dream of becoming a teacher. At first, Ramona got a job as a Head Start assistant cook. Two years later, she was encouraged by the teachers to study child development classes. She did that and soon she was hired as a Classroom Aide. Meanwhile, Ramona started noticing how much Isis enjoyed interacting with other students and how kind and patient she was with all of them. Ramona understood that this was a calling for her daughter.

Fast forward 25 years after Isis graduated from Head Start, she has received her Bachelors of Science in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology from UC Santa Cruz, a Doctor of Optometry from UC Berkeley School of Optometry, and completed her pediatric residency with an emphasis on pediatric ocular disease and contact lenses from Duke University Eye Center. Isis is currently working in the ophthalmology division at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, one of the nation’s leading pediatric hospitals in the world. Isis also spends time at Heritage Valley Eye Care Center in Fillmore where she works for the same doctor that prescribed her eyeglasses when she was only 12 years old.

As a mom, Ramona is extremely happy of her daughter’s many accomplishments. Looking back now from her days at Head Start, it’s a journey that has been years in the making.

“I’m very proud, but at the beginning I didn’t know what to expect or what to do, or how to help her,” said Ramona. “I was just praying for her to make the right choices and the right decisions,” she said. “She was the one that was sleeping late. She was the one that was taking risks,” she said. “I remember telling her, I’m right here for you. You can count on me. I continue doing that with her today,” said Ramona.

Many thanks to Ramona for sharing your Head Start story and to Child Development Resources for allowing us to republish it.



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