Being a “Big!”

Andrea Coxby Andrea Cox
Community Collaborations Director

As part of the Women’s Leadership Council’s strategy to connect with the young women in South Salt Lake around educational achievement, I am one of many WLC members and volunteers participating in a partnership between Granite Park Jr. High (GPJH), Big Brothers Big Sisters, and United Way of Salt Lake, by being matched with a student as a mentor.

Being a “Big” is something I’ve always wanted to do, and this year I had the opportunity to participate with Big Brothers Big Sisters by being matched with a “Little”, Katie, a 9th grader at GPJH. Being a part of WLC and a United Way of Salt Lake staff member has afforded me many opportunities to engage in communities and schools. However, being a “Big” allows me to engage on an individual level and act as an adult friend and mentor; a relationship both Katie and I are already enjoying very much!

The matching process is very thorough and extensive. BBBS goes to great lengths to ensure the safety and comfort of the “Littles” and the “Bigs” they are matched with. They also go to great lengths to create a match where both the Little and Big share common interests but can also learn from each other’s differences. Already, Katie has introduced me to her favorite Ludacris songs and I told her all about riding elephants in Cambodia.

The first day Katie and I met, we were fast friends! We are in the school-based program, so we met at GPJH and took a tour with other Bigs and Littles participating in the program. After that, we were given a worksheet that would help us get to know each other. The worksheet asked us to guess what we thought the other would choose or like and then to see if we guessed right! Katie guessed that my favorite color was red and that my favorite movies were action movies. She guessed right! I guessed that her favorite music was hip hop and her favorite movies were action movies. Right again! We spent the rest of the time just chatting and planning our next meeting.

After our second meeting, where we chatted and thumbed through magazines to create a dream board, we decided to ask our match specialist at the school when we could roll over to what’s called the community-based match. This means Katie and I could meet outside of the school and attend things like movies, REAL soccer games, or whatever we wanted to do! Both of us decided that this was a great idea and we’re looking forward to rolling over to the community-based program in three months. We’ve already made a list of things we want to do, such as: read To Kill a Mockingbird together, visit the University of Utah library (we both love libraries), write our favorite past teachers a thank you note, finish our dream boards, and maybe attend a Jazz game.

I’ve already benefited from being able to interact with Katie and I know we’ve both enjoyed just hanging out and getting to know each other. It’s been a welcome “break” from life and a safe space to enjoy some time with a good friend! I highly recommend that any Women’s Leadership Council member, or anyone looking to become involved as a mentor, get involved with the program and enjoy the benefits of being a “Big!”

Girls at Granite Park Jr. High

Girls at Granite Park Jr. High

To find out more about Women’s Leadership Council, please contact Shannon at shannon@uw.org.

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