High School Bigs 2023 Mentors of the Year Finalists

Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Inland Empire is proud to present the finalists for the 2023 Mentors of the Year from its High School Bigs program. These outstanding young leaders illustrate how peer mentoring helps students achieve their biggest possible futures while making a long-lasting impact on their mentee and their communities.

Each finalist has their own inspiring story to tell. Hear why these change makers believe that mentorship is the solution to overcoming adversity and breaking generational barriers.

David Munoz-Padilla, Fontana High School | Big Brother to Luis

“My parents immigrated from Mexico at a young age with no more than an elementary education. Very quickly over the years I ran out of educational support within my household; I was left to self-tutor myself for every subject. Without that support system I grew up very insecure about my identity; now I would not trade it for the world. My goal is help other students figure out a comfortable path towards figuring out who they are.

My time as a High School Big is almost at its end, but I am certain the passion, gratitude, and dedication I have for this program will be with me forever. I hope to one day become the United States Secretary of Education and fulfill the needs and wants of students all across America, and I am sure that it would not be possible without Big Brothers Big Sisters.”

Jorge Vega, Ramona High School | Big Brother to Ryan

“I struggled as a kid, but my background is a pillar that motivates me to keep going every day, and it makes me a great mentor. I was never in a stable household, but having my own mentor, John, helped me feel loved. That made me feel like I HAD to give back to the community, because I knew I was not the only one feeling like this. I had to do something.

The relationship between me and my Little Ryan is by far the best moment in my week. He sees me as a reliable mentor, someone he can come to and ask for help whenever, and this makes me happy knowing I can help someone. Helping educate the future generation of kids in this city fills me with joy. I’ve always wanted to help people who need it, and helping the Littles through the High School Bigs program makes me feel great.”

Octavio Leyva, John W North High School | Big Brother to Jayce

“I can easily and confidently say that Jayce and I didn’t just build a mentor-to-mentee relationship, but a distinct brotherly bond. I give him life lessons, help him with homework, support him in any decision he makes, and of course, we are always having fun along the way. I truly see him striving for more ever since we got to know each other better.

Mentoring students didn’t just help them out, but it also helped me out as well. Armed with new skills, I can now pass down my knowledge and what I’ve learned to the next generation. I’ve begun to step into a mentorship role for my younger siblings, and I can also build trusting relationships by being able to communicate with people of all ages more compassionately. I can help the people around me motivate themselves so that they can do more with the help of others.”

Jasmine Holloman, Eleanor Roosevelt High School | Big Sister to Maria

“No community service I have done has brought me the same satisfaction and gratitude that serving through mentorship has done for me. Seeing the visible change that my Little has on her outlook towards future life opportunities has shown me that mentorship is the way that I can make the best impact in my community. Seeing a change in her level of self-confidence and her willingness to try new things shows that my impact goes farther than just academic support.

I have both learned and grown from my time in High School Bigs. Patience and perseverance are now tools that I carry with me in all my endeavors. Seeing a change in my Little has also inspired me to encourage others around me to also serve as Big, because if I can create such an impact, I can only imagine what all of us can do.”

Kayden Sejkora, Eleanor Roosevelt High School | Big Sister to Abel

“Abel is a wonderful kid who is like the sun, always shining bright and making other people’s days better. Not only have I impacted Abel, but he has impacted me by showing me that I can be myself and that I don’t have to feel afraid to show others my true self. Our relationship will be the most important relationship because of the ways we support, respect, and understand each other.

I never would have thought that mentoring others would be a way for me to give back to my community. Through the High School Bigs program, a mentor has the chance to help a child grow as a person and serve as a support system for other kids. I’ve been inspired and I want to be able to continue to assist others in my community.”

Samantha Tadros, Ramona High School | Big Sister to Gianna

“I moved from Egypt to the United States in 2013, and I faced many challenges in keeping up my grades and being a successful student in elementary school. I especially had the hardest time communicating in English, and kids would bully me everyday.

As I grew up, my grades have been improving, and now I would say that math is my strong suit. So when I came across this opportunity to help a student who’s struggling in math just like I was struggling when I was her age, I wanted to be her biggest supporter. I found a way for my Little to enjoy math in her own style of learning. Gianna is a bright student, I know she will grow to be an excellent scholar and I think that we make a great team to help her become more successful each year. All the things I have learned should help me prepare for the next step in life, and at the same time, I am enjoying giving back to the community.”

All six seniors will receive a scholarship to help support them on their post-graduation pathway. The two winning mentors will be announced on January 26 on Thank Your Mentor Day as part of National Mentoring Month.


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