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Bigs and Littles Unite


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    High school students meet their UM adult mentors at Big Brothers Big Sisters School-to-Work event

    By Robert C. Jones Jr.
    UM News

    Students from Southwest High School gather in the lobby of the Lennar Foundation Medical Center before starting the tour of the facility.

    Students from Southwest High School who art participating in Big Brothers Big Sisters’ School-to-Work program gather in the lobby of the Lennar Foundation Medical Center before starting their tour of the facility.

    CORAL GABLES, Fla. (February 21, 2018) — To high school student Knowledge Grant, the black and gray ultrasound image looked more like a satellite photo of a cloud-covered sky than a human kidney.

    “That’s pretty cool,” said Grant, 17, her face lighting up as she looked at the image projected on a small monitor inside the Lennar Foundation Medical Center on the University of Miami Coral Gables campus. “I thought ultrasounds were only for looking at unborn babies. I never knew you could use them to see internal organs.”

    Grant also marveled at the magic of an MRI, CT scan and X-ray, deciding after her brief introduction to the high-tech diagnostic tools that she wants a career in the medical field.

    While a tour of Lennar’s Radiology/Imaging Services section was one of the most exciting moments for Grant and nine of her fellow juniors from Southwest High School during their February 14 visit to UM, being matched with an adult mentor as part of Big Brothers Big Sisters’ School-to-Work program proved to be the best part of their day.

    “We both like to dance, so I know we’re going to get along great and that I’ll learn a lot from her,” said 16-year-old Shirley Aguirre, referring to her Big Sister, Marisol Capellan, program manager of UM’s SEEDS (A SEED for Success) initiative.

    Once a month over the next two school years, the 10 Southwest High juniors will visit their UM-employee Big Brothers and Big Sisters on the Coral Gables campus, participating in group learning exercises that teach life skills and spending one-on-one time in the workplace with their mentors.

    “The goal is to guide the students through the successful completion of high school and launch them on their post-high school journey, whether that means going to college or vocational school or whatever is next,” said Aniette Lauredo, manager of UM’s Inclusion Programs, noting that the University has participated in the School-to-Work program for the past seven years.

    “It’s a great learning experience for both Bigs and Littles,” said Jamila Beckford, match support specialist for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Miami, using the terms her agency gives to the adult mentors and the children in the School-to-Work program.

    Each year, thousands of Littles are mentored by Bigs in the workplace, shadowing their adult mentors in businesses across Miami-Dade County—from hospitals and police stations to government offices and colleges and universities.

    “Each Big is here because they want to be,” Beckford told the students during their UM visit. “Anything you want to know, the Bigs can help. Whether it’s information on financial aid or UM’s different schools and colleges, the Bigs have a ton of information at their fingertips.”

    Said 17-year-old Emely Del-Rio, with her Big, College of Arts and Sciences editor Deserae del Campo, looking on, “I know this program will put me in the right frame of mind.”

     

     

     

     

     

     

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