Reflecting on Their Journeys: Graduates and Mentors Share Their Stories

[vc_row][vc_column][fwp-anim-text animated=”true” animation=”enter right move 10px over 1s after”]Graduation from Big Brothers Big Sisters is one of the most impactful aspects of our youth mentoring program. It marks the culmination of years of mentorship, hard work, bonding and personal growth. Youth who attended the ceremony on June 3 expressed tremendous gratitude for the program and shared how their mentors supported them on the path to high school graduation and beyond.

One hundred percent of the Littles in the class of 2017 received their high school diplomas this year. In total, 76 Littles—each with a unique story—walked across the stage with their mentors by their side.

This is just the beginning of their journeys, however, as the strong relationships between matches will continue to be supported by through our recently expanded Destination Future program. Although our Littles are entering a new period of transition and growth, their Big Brothers Big Sisters mentors will remain a constant and unchanging factor in achieving their full potential.[/fwp-anim-text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row fwp_boxed=”0″ fwp_offset=”0″][vc_column][vc_empty_space height=”16px”][fwp-anim-text extra_class=””]

Meet the Matches

[/fwp-anim-text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row fwp_boxed=”0″ fwp_offset=”0″][vc_column][vc_empty_space height=”16px”][fwp-anim-text extra_class=””]

Big Brother Jason and Little Brother Eddie

[/fwp-anim-text][vc_single_image image=”2355″ img_size=”full” border_color=”grey” img_link_large=”” img_link_target=”_self”][fwp-anim-text extra_class=””]Eduardo (“Eddie”) wants to follow his Big Brother Jason’s footsteps by pursuing a degree in business. “Just seeing what he does influenced me to believe I can do that,” said Eddie, who arrived at graduation with styled hair and a classy suit that mirrored the professionalism of his mentor. Eddie credits Jason for helping him maintain his grades and encouraging him to join a football team.

“I get a little choked up when I talk about him because I don’t look at Eddie as a friend anymore, I look at Eddie as family,” said Jason. “I have a twin brother and a little brother, and we’ve all accepted Eddie into our family. Watching him grow up has been one of the best experiences of my life.” Jason mentioned eagerly that he cannot wait to see what the future holds for his ambitious Little.[/fwp-anim-text][vc_empty_space height=”16px”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row fwp_boxed=”0″ fwp_offset=”0″][vc_column][vc_empty_space height=”16px”][fwp-anim-text extra_class=””]

Big Brother Matt and Little Brother Jose

[/fwp-anim-text][vc_single_image image=”2358″ img_size=”full” border_color=”grey” img_link_large=”” img_link_target=”_self”][fwp-anim-text extra_class=””]When Little Brother Jose first met his Big Brother Matt, he was so shy and nervous that he could barely say his name. Now, Jose is more social, motivated and capable of achieving his goals. Together, Jose and Matt have gone kickboxing, explored college campuses and, most memorably, tried new foods together. “I love Chipotle and Jose had never had Chipotle,” said Matt. “Now, he goes once a week.”

At the ceremony, Jose reminisced on a plethora of “firsts” he experienced thanks to Matt: a hamburger, a challenging 5k race and an out-of-state trip to Arizona. “My favorite thing that I got to do for the first time was leave California for Arizona and go to a river,” he said. “It was in the middle of nowhere. The scenery was so amazing.”[/fwp-anim-text][vc_empty_space height=”16px”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row fwp_boxed=”0″ fwp_offset=”0″][vc_column][vc_empty_space height=”16px”][fwp-anim-text extra_class=””]

Big Sister Mitsy and Little Sister Gissel

[/fwp-anim-text][vc_single_image image=”2357″ img_size=”full” border_color=”grey” img_link_large=”” img_link_target=”_self”][fwp-anim-text extra_class=””]Little Sister Gissel and Big Sister Mitsy have been inseparable since their introduction in 2009. Gissel faced enormous adversity as a young teenager when her stepdad was deported and she became financially obligated to seek employment. She thanks Mitsy for her consistent check-ups, strategic academic advice, and unconditional support throughout her high school years. “I just got accepted to my dream school, the University of La Verne, with a $36,000 scholarship due to 892 hours of community service,” she said. “I want to thank Mitsy so much for always being there and pushing me when I couldn’t do it and when my parents couldn’t do it.”

The match celebrated many milestones together over the last five years. As Gissel worked toward high school graduation, Mitsy became engaged and later married, got her master’s degree and had a child. “I watched her grow as much as she watched me grow,” said Gissel of her Big Sister. “It’s been a beautiful experience to be with her. I want to thank Big Brothers Big Sisters for allowing us to stay [together] a little bit longer through Destination Future because now it doesn’t have to be goodbye.”[/fwp-anim-text][vc_empty_space height=”16px”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row fwp_boxed=”0″ fwp_offset=”0″][vc_column][vc_empty_space height=”16px”][fwp-anim-text extra_class=””]

Big Brother Paolo and Little Brother Carlos

[/fwp-anim-text][vc_single_image image=”2356″ img_size=”full” border_color=”grey” img_link_large=”” img_link_target=”_self”][fwp-anim-text extra_class=””]Little Brother Carlos, matched with Paolo since age nine, thanks his Big Brother for helping him overcome social and communicative barriers.

“I have ADHD, as well as Asperger’s Syndrome,” he explained. “When I was nine years old, I was very socially awkward. I met Paolo and throughout the years he made me open up and realize that talking to people is one of the things I do pretty well, actually.”

Carlos aspires to be a psychiatrist one day and is grateful for Paolo’s encouragement in his pursuit. “I’m really excited for the man he is going to become in the future,” said Paolo of his Little.
[/fwp-anim-text][vc_empty_space height=”16px”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”2359″ img_size=”full” border_color=”grey” img_link_large=”” img_link_target=”_self”][/vc_column][/vc_row]