Our Big Futures Mentees: Where Are They Now?
Since Big Brothers Big Sisters’ Big Futures program began, it’s been exciting to see the paths our mentees have taken and to witness their successes in life. Here are updates on several of our Big Futures mentees:
Kirida McDaniels graduated from Austin Community College and is currently living and working in Portland, Oregon. “Kirida has actually graduated from the Big Futures program,” said Christina Eisenlord, Big Futures Coordinator. “She really blossomed when she moved to the northwest. She has a great job at Novus Labs, and I’ve seen a lot of growth and maturity in her. She has definitely met the Big Futures goal of having a living-wage job and becoming self-sufficient before the age of 25.”
Another student who is well on their way to achieving this goal is Zach Akinnola. During the pandemic Zach was working on getting accepted into a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) grad school program. “Zach started grad school this fall at the University of the Incarnate Word and is excited to be moving into his own apartment,” said Christina. “He is doing really well and starting the next chapter in his educational career. I’m really proud of all he’s done so far, what he continues to do, and how he’s tackling this path that he’s chosen.”
Jaylon Vaugh is working towards his PhD at the University of Missouri-Columbia. He is also making time for a new venture, and giving back to BBBS. “Jaylon is working at a tutoring organization, Your Ticket to College, that provides support for high school students preparing to take the SAT-ACTs,” said Christina. “He is trying to build partnerships in general, and with BBBS, to grow the business while still in his pre-grad program.”
“It’s just remarkable to see, with everything that’s on his plate,” she added. “Not only is he diligent and hardworking in his professional life, but he is also really thoughtful and considerate about how he approaches his personal life, like doing things for kids in this organization. Offering them access to tutoring that they wouldn’t normally have. To simply be mindful of our kiddos and what they could benefit from, that’s really nice.”
These are just a few of the many success stories that come from the Big Futures program, a program whose impact continues to expand. “I’m really proud of all of our mentees,” said Christina. “It takes a lot of strength to continue to try to figure out who they are and what they want to do. Becoming a successful adult is hard work, and our mentees are taking great strides to get there.”