Where Are They Now? The Ongoing Impact of Mentoring Relationships
Each year at our Ice Ball Gala, we look forward to sharing videos that communicate the personal story of a Big and Little and powerfully illustrate the life-changing potential of mentoring relationships.
By putting faces and names to a specific mentoring match and giving our Bigs, Littles and their families an opportunity to tell their stories in their own words, these videos offer a closer look at the impact of mentoring.
Not surprisingly, many guests remain touched by these powerful stories long after the evening of the gala, and ask for updates on our Bigs and Littles, wondering where these matches are now, how they are doing and what their future plans are.
We recently spoke with three featured matches from past galas to find out more about what’s going on in their lives today. Here’s an update on where they are now.
MAGGIE & KIRIDA
In 2017, we were honored to introduce Ice Ball attendees to Big Sister Maggie and Little Sister Kirida and share their compelling story. (See video story here)
Following Ice Ball, Kirida enrolled at Texas A&M University. She later suspended her studies in College Station and returned to Austin to pursue a Computer Support Specialist Associates Degree and IT Certification at Austin Community College, funded in part through a BBBS Promising Futures Scholarship award. She is currently working full-time from home in the IT support field.
“My current plans are to finish my Associates degree by this December. I only have two classes left” says Kirida. “Then I’m going back to Texas A&M to finish pursuing my degree in engineering.”
In addition to making progress toward her education and career goals, she’s also prioritizing her physical and emotional well-being and focusing on maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
“I’m building strength and learning a deeper meaning of self through yoga and meditation,” she says.
But Kirida is not just focusing on herself. She is also putting her knowledge and experience to good use, helping her friends apply to school and explore career choices.
“I’m educating them on the opportunities out there for them to succeed,” she says.
Kirida and Maggie’s relationship has remained strong in the years since their recognition at Ice Ball 2017.
After Kirida graduated from high school, Maggie visited her regularly at Texas A&M. And when Kirida returned to Austin, they transitioned into the Big Futures young adult mentoring program and continued meeting up regularly for lunch and conversation. Recently, Maggie also helped her former Little Sister move into her very first apartment.
Although COVID has recently meant more phone calls and fewer meetups, they hope to resume their lunch dates as soon as possible.
“I’m really looking forward to getting back to our regular routine,” says Maggie.
CHRIS & KEON
Big Brother Chris and Little Brother Keontray’s story was featured at our 2018 Ice Ball Gala and highlighted the positive impact that mentoring relationships can have for both the Big and the Little. During their four years together, they developed a bond they both described as being like ‘family’. (See video story here)
Chris’s actions reflected this sentiment when he decided to delay his application to medical school for a year, to stay close to Keon during his senior year of high school.
In addition to attending every one of Keon’s high school football games to watch him play on the varsity team, Chris also made time to visit colleges with his Little Brother and helped him learn more about opportunities beyond graduation.
“Keon is working full-time, taking the Austin Community College entrance exam soon and plans to eventually transfer to the University of Texas at San Antonio,” says Chris. “He’s also talked about trying to be a walk-on football player.”
Chris is also working full-time and has now begun applying to medical school. And although they’ve been distanced since the COVID shut down, their bond remains strong.
“Chris is like my actual big brother,” Keon said. “If it wasn’t for him, I’d be a totally different person than I am now. He taught me that it doesn’t matter what other people think of you. You are who you are.”
ASHLEY & BRIANNA
At last year’s Ice Ball, we were honored to share the moving story of Big Sister Ashley and Little Sister Brianna. Matched for four years, the pair had developed a strong, trusting relationship while navigating Brianna’s experiences with bullying and depression. (See video story here)
The story of their healing journey also made an impression within the broader mentoring community. This spring, Ashley and Brianna were recognized as the national Big Sister Little Sister Match of the Year!
In May, Brianna completed high school. Although the COVID pandemic made a traditional graduation ceremony unfeasible, Ashley was glad for the opportunity to attend the school’s outdoor “graduation parade” to support Brianna’s academic achievement.
“Brianna was able to walk across the stage, hear her name called, and receive cheers from faculty and family,” said Ashley. “It was a neat experience and I’m glad she was able to celebrate this accomplishment.”
Since graduation, the two have stayed “connected” through phone calls, text messages and FaceTime. They have also improvised meet-ups with “porch to car” visits from a safe distance! Currently, Brianna is working full-time. She is also interested in enrolling at Austin Community College in the spring of 2021 and to pursue her interests in art and art therapy careers.
“I’m definitely interested in getting into an art school, expanding my talents, and trying new forms of art, like music and sculpting,” says Brianna.
And as she explores these new life paths, we are confident that her Big Sister Ashley will make sure Brianna knows she is not alone.
“I’m looking forward to continuing to watch Brianna grow and blossom into the woman she’s destined to be,” says Ashley. “I’m looking forward to seeing her drive, gain more independence, accomplish her goals, and continue to experience life.”
For now, the two plan to stay “connected” from a safe distance. However, as soon as they are able, meeting up to enjoy the simple pleasures of frozen yogurt and fried chicken is at the top of their ‘to-do’ list!
These three matches exemplify Big Brothers Big Sisters mission to create and support one-to-one mentoring relationships that ignite the power and promise of youth. We’re excited to be able to share more about the ongoing impact of mentoring in the lives of Maggie and Kirida, Chris and Keontray, and Ashley and Brianna, and we’re especially happy to share their stories with previous Ice Ball guests and all supporters of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas.
We’re also excited to introduce another exceptional match at this year’s virtual Ice Ball gala Saturday, August 22nd, from 6:30 – 8 pm. We hope you’ll tune in to learn more. This year’s event is free, however pre-registration is required to receive a link to the evening’s program.