Head Start Grad Earns Degree

posted 5/11/24 -- Madisyn Daniels’ passion aligns with a great need she sees in the community.

The LCCAA Head Start grad just earned her bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Akron. Currently, she is working in Akron and studying to take her entrance exams for medical school. She wants to work as an adolescent psychiatrist serving underrepresented populations.

“Growing up in the African American community, mental health is often swept under the rug,” Madisyn said. “People don’t seek help because no one looks like them. You don’t see many African American psychiatrists and those you do see aren’t serving low-income people.”

As an only child, Madisyn forged her own path into and at the University. She found friends and success in the Office of Multi-Cultural Development where she got a campus job. The office’s peer mentorship program led to many opportunities and connections at the predominantly white institution.

“I’m not new to being in a room with people that don’t look like me, but it’s nice to see – and provide - that representation,” she said.

At UA, Madisyn was a regular on the Dean’s List and earned several leadership awards as well as enjoying a wide variety of new friendships and acquaintances. Her bachelor’s degree – which included a minor in chemistry – was earned on a generalized pre-med track.

Application cycles for medical schools are different than for undergrad. Madisyn is hoping to find a collaborative, diverse school. She wants to encourage more people to talk about their mental health, to feel comfortable discussing topics like depression, knowing they are real medical issues.

“It’s a passion for me but it’s also a need,” she said. “It’s about breaking that stigma and raising awareness.”

Madisyn’s mother Dana Daniels – also a UA grad - has worked at LCCAA Head Start as a Family Service Assistant since 1998. She knew Head Start was the place for her daughter, who graduated Elyria High School in the top ten percent of her class. Madisyn still uses a practice her teacher Beverly Jones taught her - kissing her hand and then tapping her head.

“Madisyn has kissed her brain numerous times and still kisses her brain every day,” Dana said.

That’s not the only way Head Start still impacts Madisyn. She appreciates the program’s support for the whole child and family.

“Being in a setting where kids are able to be kids prepared me to go into a school setting,” she said. “There are times Head Start may be their only safe space.”

While Madisyn prepares for medical school, she is working as a Patient Care Coordinator at Bright Now Dental. The job has further fueled her interest in learning about people and meeting their needs.

“I loved my major. The course work was tough,” she said. “Now that I’m working in the field, I’m open to more possibilities. Someone had to be that representative for me and I want to be that for other people.”