Human rights activist Marina Schuster speaks for Bhutto-Ispahani lecture series.
Jennifer McDonald’s love for children inspired her to get her degree from La Verne with a double major and then open her own development center.
Jennifer McDonald knew she wanted to work with children and she knew she wanted her own business.
After graduating from the University of La Verne in 2009, McDonald followed through with her dreams and opened Our Neighborhood Child Development Center in Charlottesville, Va., in 2011.
“The first time I met Jennifer, she articulated her desire to double major in child development and business, so that she would have the necessary knowledge and skills to open her own child development center,” Associate Professor of Education Lynn Stanton-Riggs said. “Both majors are challenging, and I had not seen a student successfully complete a double major in the time frame that Jennifer proposed.
“Her intelligence, tenacity, work ethic, and organizational skills allowed her to complete both programs, and graduate with departmental honors.”
McDonald, who grew up in a small town in upstate New York, said she learned a lot from her experiences at La Verne.
“La Verne really opened my eyes to seeing a lot more that is out there,” McDonald said. “Studying cultural diversity at La Verne definitely challenged me.”
She was also challenged by the courses in both majors, but she was determined to learn about child development and business.
As a volunteer and employee of several childcare facilities, McDonald recognized how important it was for directors of childcare centers to understand the business side as well as the teaching side. While attending La Verne McDonald developed her own philosophy and childcare model.
That philosophy is summarized on her organization’s website, which proclaims: “We believe children are the world’s most valuable asset. Children are born with astounding potential. We provide a place that respects all children, and their right to create, discover, explore, and learn.”
“We’re growing fast, but we’ve become a model for quality,” McDonald said.
“Jennifer has opened and is successfully running a unique, high-quality child development center,” Stanton-Riggs said. “The child development faculty has always known that Jennifer is a talented young woman, and we couldn’t be more proud of her success.
“The children and families in her center will benefit from her strong administrative skills, her unwavering commitment to quality care, and her depth of knowledge in the field of Child Development.”
— Story by Susan Acker, for Voice Online