That’s the modern term that younger people use to describe working hard.  It is, I imagine, a word derived from working so hard that the gears you use to run your life grind together as they are being worked so hard.

When I meet Deanna Aragon, 21, of the airy mountainous landscape of Questa, a Northern New Mexico city, that’s the one word that keeps running through my head.

She is polished, dapper, presentable and articulate, her hair and makeup done flawlessly and her outfit speaks an entire chapter of professionalism.  

Fresh out of UNM with her Bachelor’s Degree in Criminology, Deanna speaks of the many hats she has to wear- single mother, daughter, up and coming paralegal, and waitress.  She describes in detail what her day consists of- getting up at 5 to get ready for work, dropping off her son, running back and forth between jobs and classes (she took 24 credit hours this last semester to finish her degree) then back to pick up her son, put him to bed, and start all over again, my first question is- “do you sleep?”

She laughs a bit and replies, “not…really.”  

Her days are packed and she is always moving forward, trying to get a better, more comfortable life for her son, Daniel, who is 5.  She moved to the gaslamp-orange lined streets of Albuquerque from the light blue and green mountain landscape of Questa to finish her degree at UNM.  Even now when she has completed her degree at UNM, an impressive feat for anyone who works and raises a child, she is still applying for internships and jobs at law firms, applying for mortgages, applying for apartments.

“I just want my son to be comfortable.  It worth all these days and nights with no rest just to know he will never have to struggle like I have,” she tells me.

Combined with her relentless ambition, she largely credits the Head Start staff at the Questa location.  “I was able to leave Daniel with people I felt comfortable with while I got some early credit hours in High School before going to UNM, she says.

She was at first hesitant to leave Daniel with people unfamiliar with, until she walked in the classroom on his first day and saw his teacher.  “It was Teacher Rosie.  The same teacher I had when I went to Head Start.”

She speaks of Rosie Sanchez, a Head Start teacher who is highly praised by her peers and families that she serves alike.  “I know he will be instilled with the learning, safety, and character that she instilled in me,” Deanna tells me, “Head Start has helped me get my degree, and they helped raise my child with the same respected teaching techniques that I had.”

It speaks volumes about YDI Head Start and its staff, to help raise two generations to become the best version of themselves as they partner with families to help them solve life’s problems.

I want to stay and speak with Deanna longer, but our time is cut short- she is a career driven single mother, after all- a character that YDI Head STart helped her become- as well as helped Daniel become.

We arrange to meet again to speak more in depth about her experiences, and say our goodbyes.  Once again, I am left impressed and nearly emotionally overwhelmed at the positive impact that the company I have worked for for 20 years has made in people’s lives.

Keep grinding, Deanna.