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Champion for Colorado children awarded honorary doctorate and master's degrees

Champion for early childhood education receives high honors
Champion for early childhood education receives high honors 02:19

For more than half a century, Anna Jo Garcia Haynes has elevated the rights of children in Colorado, leaving an impact on the lives of tens of thousands.

Last week, two universities awarded her high honors for her contributions to our state.  Metropolitan State University of Denver (MSU Denver) gave Garcia Haynes an honorary Master's in Education. And University of Colorado Denver (CU-Denver) bestowed on her an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.

Khadija Haynes

Dr. Marie Mora, Interim Provost at MSU Denver said about Garcia Haynes, "She has been a game changer, visionary and true servant leader not only in the Denver metro area and Colorado, but also at the national level."

Helping to launch the federal Head Start program in Colorado, co-founding the Colorado Children's Campaign and advocating for universal access to preschool -  Anna Jo Garcia Haynes founded and serves as President Emeritus of Mile High Montessori Early Learning Centers. And as she approaches 90, she says she's not done advocating for kids.

"Nobody does this kind of work alone. That just doesn't happen," Garcia Haynes said. "It happens when you work together to accomplish what you'd like to accomplish."

Years before research confirmed the lifelong impact of high quality early childhood education, Garcia Haynes worked tirelessly to convince lawmakers to prioritize the needs of the state's youngest residents.

She told CBS News Colorado, "This is really important. Kids really need best start in life they can get, and parents need some help so that they can keep a job and be able to go to work as well."

Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education Angie Paccione said, "She deserves it because of the legacy that she's leaving and because of the work that she's done….the legislation, the policy, the science all caught up to what Anna Jo was pushing from the very beginning."

Garcia Haynes cheered on the state's newest educators earning degrees along-side her, "I know they're going to go out there and just do incredible things with the children and the families."

Her legacy includes a loving family with accomplishments galore, committed like her to building a better community for everyone.


Granddaughter Alexis Haynes said, "Altruism they say isn't really true and it can't be achieved. But I think my grandma embodies altruism."

"I wouldn't be where I am without her. So I'm very, very grateful that she's my grandmother," added Brynn White, also a granddaughter.

"Just a tremendous matriarch in all of our lives," said grandson Max Haynes, "She set the foundation for who our family really is and the work that we've all been fortunate to be a part of in the community."

Garcia Haynes was born in the Auraria neighborhood, where the massive urban university campus now stands.


She says she's thrilled to see generations of students earning degrees there and preparing to lead Colorado well into the future.

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