Michelle was a high school freshman when she enrolled in the Big Brothers Big Sisters Mentor2.0 program and met her Big Sister Kristen. As Michelle recalls,
“The transition to high school was harder than I thought it would be. I joined Mentor2.0 to have someone to guide me.”
What few people knew was that Michelle was dealing with tremendous hardships at home. During Michelle’s sophomore year her mother was diagnosed with brain cancer. During the long months of treatment Michelle became her mother’s health advocate, taking her to doctor’s appointments and staying with her at the hospital. Michelle felt she needed to be strong for her mother and family so she kept her struggles to herself. She missed a lot of school and her grades suffered. Graduation seemed to be slipping away. Michelle shared,
“Education and graduating from High School didn’t seem possible because of my personal situation.”
While visiting with Big Sister Kristen, Michelle finally shared her mom’s illness and just how much she was trying to handle by herself. That heart-to-heart conversation changed the trajectory of Michelle’s life. Kristen told Michelle she didn’t need to be strong by herself and she didn’t need to hide. Kristen reminded Michelle of all those who care about her and want to help her. With Kristen’s encouragement Michelle told her teachers about her mom’s illness.
“My teachers were shocked. Each provided the help I needed to catch up with schoolwork and graduate on time. If I hadn’t talked to Kristen I would have never asked for help.”
Michelle became the first in her family to graduate high school and receive a scholarship to attend college. Yet even graduation day was a challenge. That morning Michelle drove her mom to the hospital for outpatient surgery then, because of distancing protocols, she waited outside for four hours while her Mom went through the surgery. Afterwards, Michelle picked up prescriptions, drove her mom home, made her comfortable only then driving herself to her graduation ceremony. Her socially distanced graduation ceremony looked different than she had always imagined, and although she couldn’t have her mom or Big Sister Kristen by her side, she knew they were cheering her on in spirit!
Today, Michelle’s Mom is doing much better, and Kristen and Michelle are still Sisters, staying connected as Michelle completes her first semester of college.
Michelle is truly a resilient, strong young woman, full of potential and promise. Her story illustrates how significant mentors can be in the life of our kids.
Having the right person show up in our lives at the right moment can change everything.
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