Shauntina Latresse Benson-Colon knows about overcoming adversity to be able to fulfill life-changing goals because she’s done it as the mother of two young children who has completed her own educational and personal aspirations.

The 28-year-old Bamberg resident has been named the recipient of the 2022 Region IV Head Start Association Parent of the Year Award. She was also named the 2020-2021 South Carolina State Head Start Association Parent of the Year.

The Region IV Head Start Association, or RIVHSA, has been dedicated to improving the quality of early care and learning services for Head Start/Early Head Start children and their families for more than 30 years. Today, RIVHSA represents more than 170,000 children, 40,000 staff and 300 member programs. It is a regional affiliate of the National Head Start Association (NHSA), and South Carolina is one of eight state affiliates included in its regional network.

Benson-Colon is the wife of Bryan Colon and the mother of Bryan, 6, and Caillie, 4. She has enrolled both of her children in Early Head Start and Head Start for the past four years and realizes the importance of volunteering throughout her children’s education.

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She said her most recent award as RIVHSA Parent of the Year was something she took pride in.

“I don’t know how to explain it. I felt proud. For me, I don’t take that lightly. That’s a pretty big accomplishment. My grandmother was always telling me to do the best you can do in everything you do,” Benson-Colon said, noting that her children are her main priority.

“Looking back over life, I never thought I’d be somebody’s Parent of the Year. That’s just a big title to fulfill,” she said.

Currently employed as a police officer in Bamberg, Benson-Colon is also a lifelong volunteer with various programs that support the well-being of children and families, including Head Start.

She has served in various capacities at the Orangeburg-Calhoun-Allendale-Bamberg Community Action Agency’s Head Start Center, including as the current president of the Parent Committee.

Benson-Colon has also served as policy council chairperson and as a member of the grievance and personnel committees and as a secretary of the Parent Committee. She has volunteered numerous hours during the past program year that led to her daughter being crowned as the center’s 2020 Mini Prom Queen.

Raised by her grandmother and an aunt in Bamberg, she said she had also attended Head Start and was proud to be able to volunteer with her own children’s time there whether it was volunteering during a trip, or helping out during their class time.

Education has been a priority for her, too. She is a 2011 honor graduate of Bamberg-Ehrhardt High School who went on to earn her business administration degree from Denmark Technical College, where she made the President’s List and was inducted into the National Honor Society.

She has been able to overcome bouts with depression, including after the death of her grandmother, and continues to strive to be a good example for her children.

“Enrolling my children in Early Head Start/Head Start led me to see light at the end of tunnel. Volunteering and seeing my children excel in school kept me busy and helped me overcome depression for the second time. This was the boost I prayed for and felt something was finally going right in my life,” Benson-Colon. $1 for the first 26 weeks

Her advice for others is simple.

“Never give up and keep God first. Trust in the Lord,” she said.

Contact the writer: or 803-533-5534. Follow “Good News with Gleaton” on Twitter at @DionneTandD

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