Love-Hope-Opportunity grows Littles and dreams
22-year-old alumni Little Paige Pearson digs science. More specifically, she digs, and cultures, and studies plants you may find on your supper table. Paige was in Grade 2 when she was matched with Big Sister Julie through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri (BBBSEMO). 14 years later, she’s a St. Louis University graduate working as a part-time lab assistant at the Danforth Plant Science Center. Paige describes how she’s made these achievements through support from her Big Sister Julie and our Big Futures staff – each who’ve stood for, and by, Paige in moments of big decision and owning her future.
"BBBSEMO has always been there for me in all different ways.... I probably wouldn’t be where I am without them."
I got accepted to University of Missouri – St. Louis (UMSL), Washington University (WashU), and St. Louis University (SLU). I wanted to go to where education and making community were both priorities. A lot of people were telling me, “WashU!”… and saying “I got a degree from WashU” would sound great. But was that what I wanted; or what everybody else wanted? When I talked to my Big Sister, she said, “Whatever you want to do…” I chose SLU.
When I graduated high school, I kind of knew I wanted to do research, but my ideas about biology were pretty narrow. Going through undergrad, I learned there’s much more to it than just looking through a microscope: it’s dissecting things, growing things, other basic life things. And I learned over time it’s what I want to do. Experiencing it at SLU made me want to do it even more.
After my freshman year, I got an email saying, “You don’t have enough money to pay for this semester; you’re going to have to go to another school…” My need for financial aid was so great, it put certain limitations on receiving scholarship funds I’d had before. BBBSEMO worked hand-in-hand with The Scholarship Foundation to help me – three individuals went with me to the financial aid office to say, “We need to work something out. We don’t want Paige at a community college: she’s smart, she deserves to be here, and snatching her college experience from her like is not going to help her…”
Alumni Little Paige with Big Sister Julie and family at Danforth Plant Science Center
I’m working a couple of lab positions. At one, I help with projects on quinoa. At the other, I work on a bunch of projects involving either crops or grapevines. My goal is a full-time lab position with benefits; and maybe grad school for biology in a year from now. After that, I hope to find full-time work doing biology research.
BBBSEMO has always been there for me in all different ways. A lot of their motivation and support has kept me going when I could have given up and fallen down into a hole. I probably wouldn’t be where I am without them.
ABOUT BIG FUTURES
Designed to support Littles’ transition to life after high school, Big Futures staff work directly with “alumni Littles” from age 18 through age 25. The program offers guidance and resource connections to empower young people to own their future through education in college or trade school, enlistment in the military, and/or employment at a living wage. BBBSEMO Big Futures staff partner actively with parents, Bigs, and other mentors to help with planning and serve as advocates.
For more information on how you can share opportunity with alumni Littles and Big Futures, contact Senior Director Tashanna Rucker at firstname.lastname@example.org.