Meet the 2018 Big of the Year award recipients, who were selected for making a significant impact on the life of a child through one-to-one mentorship and demonstrating excellence as advocates of Big Brothers Big Sisters.
The top honors are bestowed annually in January on Thank Your Mentor Day, part of National Mentoring Month. This year, the local campaign is powered by Irvine-based Mazda North American Operations (MNAO), a proud sponsor that believes in the ability of youth mentoring to make a life-changing impact for children in the community.
Big Sister: Allison
Little Sister: Kyarrah
Match date: 7/8/2008
Allison and Kyarrah have become incredibly close over the past decade.
Allison was matched with Kyarrah shortly after her 7th birthday. Right away, she could identify with Kyarrah and helped her navigate through life’s obstacles.
“My family has been through many rough times, moving from city to city for years on-end. The circumstances were beginning to change my view on the world and what it had to offer, and so I opened up to Allison,” Kyarrah said. “She reminds me that life is a race and obstacles will always be ahead of me, but just as there are obstacles, there are also routes around them.”
From an early age, Allison has encouraged Kyarrah’s interest in aerospace, from watching movies like “Hidden Figures” to talking about opportunities for women in STEM fields. Last year, Allison jumped on a rare opportunity to take a tour of SpaceX with Kyarrah — it was an experience that Kyarrah describes as life-changing, opening her eyes to the excitement and real possibility of what a career would be like in the industry. The tour affected her so much that she arranged a tour of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Kyarrah is enrolled in a self-paced homeschooling program, and when it became apparent that it might pose challenges for Kyarrah in meeting college requirements, Allison helped her break down her educational process step-by-step. Kyarrah is set to graduate from high school this spring, one year earlier than her peers, and has plans to study aerospace engineering.
Since becoming a volunteer, Allison has joined Big Brothers Big Sisters as director of marketing and communications, furthering her dedication to provide mentorship to children in need.
“Kyarrah inspires me to be my best self, someone worthy of being called her sister,” Allison said. “She has grown from a timid 7-year-old afraid of meeting new people into a confident, compassionate and mature young adult. I am so grateful to be part of her life as she continues to persevere in the face of every challenge thrown her way.”