An Unexpected Bond: Sami’s Mentorship Story

Sharmaine Sun Stories February 8, 2024

“Concha was there all of a sudden,” Sami says about her Big Sister. Sami was Matched with Concha in third grade, around the same time as many of her friends were being Matched with college-aged Bigs of their own. At first, she was hesitant about being Matched with an older Big Sister. “She was maybe 50, 55 when we started, and when you’re in third grade, 50, 55 is old,” Sami says, laughing. But age didn’t matter, because Concha was consistent, lively, and caring, visiting 4 times a month to eat lunch with Sami and becoming a lifelong friend. 

Where Sami was shy and less outgoing, Concha was the opposite, but both shared a love of being active and spending time outside that drew them together. “We were very different personalities, but then we meshed so well,” Sami says. With Concha by her side, Sami’s world opened up to baking, tennis, racquetball, biking, swimming, and more—things Sami had never been exposed to but loved. “All these things that I enjoy a lot now, I have no idea if I would enjoy them without her support.” It was Concha who introduced Sami to one of her biggest and most persistent loves—running. Concha supported Sami’s love of running, bringing her snacks, attending meets, and encouraging her. “My mom didn’t know what a 4×100 or what the 400 meter dash was, but with my Big Sister, I could share all this, and she really understood it, which was really great.” 

“I think she brought out a lot of confidence in me.”

As her world of possibilities grew, so did Sami’s sense of self. “I grew into this really extroverted and outgoing person. I think she brought out a lot of confidence in me.” This confidence led Sami to become the first in her family to go to college. Sami shares that college was hard for her to imagine growing up, but Concha’s support has empowered her to aim even higher. She’s now planning to pursue a master’s in social work.

Sami’s experience with Concha led her to a passion for mission-oriented work. “I just want to help, and be a part of things that help make the world a better place or just make it easier for others. I’m very grateful for my experience and my Big Sister and then I think about how none of it could have happened without the people helping her and enrolling us. I want to give somebody the same experience that I was lucky enough to receive.”

“I want to give somebody the same experience that I was lucky enough to receive.”

Now, as BBBSBA’s Manager of Enrollment and Match Support Specialists, Sami is using her love for social work along with her experience as a Little to support others, build Matches, and pay it forward for the next group of Littles. She advocates for Littles by following one of her main takeaways from the program—being very intentional with the relationships she builds to ensure they last. This means considering countless factors that go into making a Match that will endure. It goes beyond factoring in distance and matching schedules; it’s about finding Bigs who see their Littles and can understand the struggles they face. Sami loves when she finds Littles the perfect Big to support them the way hers did.

Not only does Sami advocate for Littles’ needs to help their Matches last, but she does the same for Bigs. “Working here, it’s funny seeing people’s hesitations with older Bigs. I think they underestimate our older Bigs. I try and share ‘I had an older Big and it was actually the best thing in the world. She’s the reason I run.’” After sharing her experience with families, Sami helps them see the good in all Bigs and encourages them to give older Bigs a chance to make a positive difference in the lives of their kids—expanding their opportunities, opening their world to new passions and possibilities, and giving them a friendship that lasts.

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