Ellen & Montse: What A Difference A Year Makes
Over the past twelve
months we’ve shared stories of some of the matches your support has made
possible. As 2017 comes to a close, we followed up with one of these matches to
learn more about their year. They have experienced some exciting changes.
When we introduced you to Big Sister Ellen and her Little Sister
Montse last spring, Montse was trying to adjust to a new school as a high
school freshman. At the time, one of Ellen and Montse’s primary goals was to
help Montse become the first person in her family to graduate from high school.
Now, months later, with a year of high school behind her and
encouragement from her Big Sister, finishing high school is not her only
ambition. Montse has particularly enjoyed studying psychology and learning
about the emotional and physical aspects of the human brain. This has inspired
her to want to become a physician and she knows that to achieve this goal she
will need to attend college.
It is a dream that she has been working toward even though she
is only a sophomore. “Montse went on a school-sponsored trip to Louisiana to
visit colleges last year,” said Ellen. “This year’s trip is to Washington, D.C.
and she really wants to go because she wants to visit one of the schools I
attended. However, this trip costs a lot more.”
Montse didn’t think that making this year’s trip was a
possibility. She knew that her parents couldn’t afford to send her and she
wasn’t sure she could raise the money. She sold popcorn as a fundraiser through
her school, but was only able to raise about $100.
“That’s when we decided to set up a fundraising website that I
shared through my network,” said Ellen. “We posted a lovely letter Montse wrote
explaining who she is and what her aspirations are. I think both of us had low
“The response was incredible,” Ellen continued. “We raised
almost $800. Even people I work with whom I’ve never actually met donated. I
work for a very generous company and the people there always want to help out.”
To make her dream of becoming a doctor a reality, however, the
obstacles Montse faces are not only financial. She must also overcome her
family’s doubts. Though her family is proud and supportive of her, some members
do not believe that she can achieve her dreams. “She has family members who
still joke that she will probably just drop out of high school and get
married,” Ellen said. “Montse says, ‘I don’t listen to them anymore. They are
Montse has backed up her statement with action this year. “I’ve
always encouraged her to do well in school, and she has always been a good ‘B’
student, but she was young and she was dealing with a lot as a kid,” Ellen
remarked. “But this year, she has been so much more motivated to be at the top
of her class. I’ve never seen that kind of determination in her before. She is
now number 1 or number 2 in her class. She loves talking about psychology and
about how the brain works. She’s just super excited about it.”
“Eight months ago, Montse wanted to be a special effects makeup
artist. That has changed into her wanting to become a doctor,” said Ellen. “I
think that’s a really cool transition. She knows what she likes and as she’s
exposed to more things, her interests are evolving. It’s super cool to watch.”
Montse has also established some personal goals. She is starting
to think about college resumes and is working toward gaining more leadership
and service experience than is required by her school. “She really wants to get
the Gold Standard for service hours,” said Ellen.
In the past year, Montse has come a long way from simply trying
to adjust to a new school. “I actually think that moving to a new school was a
blessing,“ said Ellen. “Montse had a lot of friends at her old school and it
was a comfortable place. She moved to this new school where she didn’t know anyone,
and she put her energy into excelling academically.”
“She is so much more confident now that she’s gained a sense of
purpose and a passion. She seems so much more centered and calm,” said Ellen.
“This is new. When we were matched three years ago Montse had issues with
aggression and she was angry at everyone. Now she knows what she wants to be
and she is taking steps to get there. And I will always support her through
graduating high school, attending college, and becoming a doctor. It’s been a
Your support makes matches, and possibilities like these,
possible. Montse’s Big Sister has provided her with the support and
encouragement to envision and pursue a future that she could not have conceived
of before. Thank you for helping Montse, and more children like her.