the Impact – The Veliz Sisters
Little Sisters is twice as much fun for Alicia and Raquel. As siblings who are
both BBBS Littles, they have twice the Bigs, twice the outings, twice the BBBS
scholarship funds, and twice the support for their future plans. Alicia and
Raquel are the first in their family to attend college, and after hearing about
their goals, it’s clear that these young women are well on their way to
achieving success in the world.
in a single-parent household, the two were matched with Big Sisters during their
middle school years at the urging of their aunt who’d seen the benefits of
BBBS’ program. Alicia, the oldest, is matched with Big Sister Kyra, and
she is the more reserved of the two. Raquel is matched with Sarah, and she
describes herself as talkative and outgoing. Despite, or maybe due to, their
differences, both sisters agree that having Bigs in their lives has made a
Big Sister) Sarah encourages me to be myself, and that’s something I really
like about her,” said Raquel. “My mom is very supportive, but she had us when
she was so young that she didn’t really get to have a childhood herself. She
doesn’t know how to let me be creative, whereas Sarah does. It’s nice to have
someone say ‘You can do
this. Don’t be afraid.’”
and her Big are often mistaken for being biological sisters. “She’s very much
like me,” said Raquel. “She is super adventurous and she loves to try new
things. She always wants to make things, or go to a coffee shop and play board
games. I love that. And I can talk to her about anything, and she listens and
shares her experiences.”
agrees that having a Big who is encouraging and a confidante has been a plus in
her life, particularly since the biological sisters have very different
personalities and were not really close growing up. “(My Big Sister) Kyra has
taught me a lot about being professional but not forgetting to have fun,” said
Alicia. “We like to be silly, but then Kyra will turn around and give me advice
on getting a good credit score. Then we’ll go back to being silly again. Part
of what I’m learning is how to keep my business life separate from my personal
an important skill to have, as Alicia is pursuing a major in business
management. She recently completed her first year at the University of Texas at
San Antonio and she is working as an intern at Big Brothers Big Sisters of
Central Texas this summer.
on the other hand, is a recent high school graduate who is planning to attend
Franklin University in Switzerland this fall. She will be studying
Environmental Science, but she also plans to get certified to teach English as
a Second Language internationally. The opportunity to study abroad is something
she simply took a chance on.
applied to a lot of different colleges, but Franklin University is the only
international school among them,” said Raquel. “The University is supposed to
send out acceptance letters before the end of May, and I received mine the very
last week. I was nervous. A friend kept saying, ‘If you get in, you have to go.
This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.’”
going to be hard being so far away, and it’s going to be hard on my mom, but
I’m lucky she’s so supportive,” Raquel admitted. “My Big Sister has also been
very supportive. She studied abroad for a year, and she’s been telling me about
her experiences, which has helped.”
will Alicia feel about her sister being so far away? “I’m trying to play it
cool. I’m trying to pretend that I’m not going to miss her, but – honestly – I
will,” said Alicia. “When Raquel is gone I won’t have anyone pushing me to do
fun stuff, even when I don’t want to. When I give in, I always have to admit that
I enjoyed it. I just don’t want to tell her!”
pair have agreed to video chat each week to keep in touch while Raquel is away.
Alicia is also saving money to visit Raquel in Switzerland. But each sister
plans to give the other space to grow while working toward her own goals.
I want to own a bakery,” said Alicia, “or possibly go to culinary school after
college.” It’s a goal her sister wants her to achieve as well.
want Alicia to have a bakery,” said Raquel. “I’ve also thought about how I want
my life to be. I want to go to college, get my teaching certificate, teach,
retire, then work at Google or somewhere else as a translator, and make a lot
of money so that I can get a home for my mom, help my sister get a bakery, and
just help my family out because they have supported and helped me.”
adds, “Of course, sometimes you want one thing, but life throws you another. I
like that about life.”
sisters are both community-minded. They volunteer at events in their
neighborhood. Their favorite activity is feeding the homeless at the annual
H-E-B Feast of Sharing. They are also supportive of BBBS. Each received a
college scholarship from BBBS’ Scholarship Program and each can see themselves
becoming a Big Sister one day.
as an intern, it’s been cool to see what actually happens behind the scenes at
BBBS,” said Alicia. “I didn’t realize what goes into making a match happen.
There’s a lot more to it than I realized. It’s made me appreciate BBBS even
more. Part of my internship has involved finding resources for Bigs, and I’ve
enjoyed helping them out. I can’t wait until I can become a Big, but I want to
be financially stable before I do. I know it’s a long process, but it will be
adds, “I’m always talking to my friends about BBBS, and I’m definitely
interested in being a Big.”
they end up overseas or stay in Central Texas, there’s no doubt these sisters
will be making a positive mark in the world, representing their family and
BBBS, and giving back in a big way.