Congrats to the grads! BBBSWNC has 17 Littles who are graduating now from high school. And what a strange, wonderful time it is.
The crisis has cancelled or postponed graduation ceremonies, but high schools throughout the BBBSWNC region have stepped up with signs, drive-by parades and other ways to recognize the outstanding kids who have worked so hard.
And that includes 17 Littles who have persisted through thick and thin to earn their degrees. Thanks go to their parents, guardians and Bigs, who have helped them along the way.
Here are profiles of a few of them. More will be posted soon.
Little Sister Sophie, matched in Highlands-Cashiers with her Big Sister Lynne Keating, will be entering college this fall with plans to become an art teacher and, eventually, an art therapist.
Sophie met Lynne in the sixth grade. They did jigsaw puzzles together in the school library, and Sophie would show her Big the art she had done in her sketchbook.
“It is funny to think how far our friendship has come since then,” Sophie said. “My relationship with my mentor has been extremely valuable to my development and making decisions for my future.”
Asked what advice she would give her younger self if she could, Sophie said, “I would tell myself to be more grateful for the resources I have been given and not to let opportunities pass me by. Big Brothers Big Sisters has given me so many opportunities and continual support throughout the years I have been involved.”
Little Sister Chrissy is a proud 2020 graduate of T.C. Roberson High School. Chrissy says that right now, she’s not sure what the future holds for her.
She is forever grateful for her Big Sister Selene who has supported her, counseled her, called her out when she needed it, made her feel welcome in her home full of dogs, and took her on many fun trips to the lake. She says they will be friends forever.
Little Sister Allie is graduating from Early College and is headed to UNC Chapel Hill on a full four-year scholarship! She’s planning to major in environmental science and biology.
She and her Big Sister Helen Byrd, matched April 17, 2008, are BBBS Polk County’s longest running match. And now she’s off to college during the pandemic.
“My senior year went from 100-0 in one week. So experience it while you can,” Allie said.
In December, Little Sister Mekare headed off into the working world to earn money for college. She wants to become a veterinarian and a CNA.
Her Big Sister Hayley Bryson helped her feel “less alone in the world and helped me through my tough times,” she said. “She is amazing and so supportive through everything, especially my school life.”
Mekare remembers the first time she was able to go to Hayley’s house. “All of her family was there. They were so sweet and kind,” she said. “They all took me as one of their own, and I’ll forever be grateful for them.”
Her Big Sister “is so sweet and kind, and I love her as my own sister. She always listens to everything, puts others before herself. She always makes you want to smile when you are down, and I’m grateful for her.”
Does Mekare have any advice for a child who is considering seeking a mentor? Yes.
“A mentor helps you to see you’re amazing in every way, even when you don’t see it yourself,” she said. “Never give up, no matter the mountain size. Keep going.”
Tony, a graduating Little, graduates from East High School in Henderson County June 5. Like all other seniors this year, he won’t get a typical graduation. But his Big Brother Bill Parana, who plans to visit with him and give him a card and some cash for graduation, says he will celebrate this milestone with his Little Brother no matter what!
Tony and Bill have been matched since 2015, when Tony was a seventh grader. Because Tony lives with his mother and does not have any siblings, you can’t put a price on the difference that Bill’s time and attention have made in his life.
Over the years, Bill and Tony have enjoyed spending time together going fishing and out to eat. Bill has been there as a friend and confidant for Tony every step of the way. Tony says that Bill “has inspired me to be a better person.”
Tony currently works at Home Depot and is not sure of his plans after graduation. The one thing he is sure of is that he and Bill will be friends for life.
Big Brother Bill said being a Big is “one of the most rewarding things” he has ever done. Tony’s mom feels that Tony has benefited greatly from the Big Brothers Big Sisters program and said that Bill is “patient and very friendly.”
“Being in the program has made me a better man,” said Kaleb, a graduating Little. “It has helped me to learn about the opportunities that exist in this world for me and how I can contribute and to be grateful for what I have.”
Kaleb, who graduates from Freedom High School in Morganton May 29, has been a part of Big Brothers Big Sisters for four years. Currently he is enrolled in barber school and will graduate in February. His Big Brother is Russ.
“Throughout our time together, Kaleb has grown not only physically but has matured into a beautiful young man inside and out,” Russ said. “We’ve become great buddies and shared many great times together. I look forward to being a part of his future.”