Being a young mother and working a part-time job wasn’t at all a detriment, but for Dr. Lupe Jaime-Mileham, there was still this awareness that she might not be able to graduate with a bachelor’s degree from the Kremen School of Education and Human Development at Fresno State in the targeted five years.
Walking in without an appointment, she met with an adviser who helped her unpack classes previously taken at a different university.
“There was an understanding that I’d probably take a lot longer because it was difficult for me to carry a full-time load. I ended up doing close to over nine years of getting my first degree with Kremen,” said Jaime-Mileham.
Then, taking strides to advance her education, Jaime-Mileham would once again walk through the hallways of the Kremen School when she decided she could make a greater impact in education if she earned an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership.
Throughout her program, she struggled with a sense of belonging due to English not being her first language and coming from a migrant background. The program director at the time, Dr. Ken Magdaleno, became a mentor for her.
“From my first meeting with her, I was convinced that she would be an honored leader in her chosen field,” said Magdaleno.
Jaime-Mileham was able to bounce her vulnerabilities on him, and she said that having his support was crucial to getting to the finish line.
Passionate about her work as the senior director of Early Care and Education for the Fresno County Superintendent of Schools, she decided to take the next step in her career. Feeling empowered with a doctorate in educational leadership, she applied for the California Department of Social Services’ brand new Child Care and Development Division. After a series of interviews, Jaime-Mileham was appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom and Senate-confirmed as the deputy director of the Child Care and Development Division.
She’d realize that the position would offer her the opportunity to bring not only her unique voice and upbringing, but also “that Central Valley lens,” to her work.
When asked about her goal for the next year, Jaime-Mileham hopes that the record-breaking investments to the department are a testament to what this current administration and legislators are trying to bring forth.
“My hope is to ensure that every family has access to quality services across the state — whether it’s our smallest rural community in the Central Valley. Quality efforts including both linguistically and culturally appropriate practices, where we’re honoring families’ home language and supporting our early childhood workforce.”
When reflecting on her position as deputy director and her education at Fresno State, Jaime-Mileham is drawn to the uniqueness of the Kremen School’s graduate programs, in particular the Master of Arts in Early Childhood Education program.
“The Kremen School has always been one of the leaders on the forefront of early childhood education and not only having that unique masters in early childhood, which is unheard of across the state, but also having great professors who are able to prepare this workforce that is going to work with our very youngest learners. I continue to see Kremen champion that work and continue to support the workforce,” she said.
Like Jaime-Mileham and countless other graduates who are agents of change in our community, the Kremen School is dedicated to preparing credible and relevant leaders committed to advancing equity and excellence in education.
(Written by Devon Hunt, a creative writing student)