26 Jan
  • By Diana Valdes-Contreras
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Leading local mentoring organization paves the way for local youth to reach their potential

“Not only does Big Brothers Big Sisters provide mentors, it provides opportunities.”

– Andrea Yaeger, former Little

January is a big month for our local leading mentoring organization, Big Brothers Big Sisters of San Diego County (BBBS of SDC), celebrating National Mentoring month along with 243 Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies around the country. Throughout January, mentees will thank their mentors for the incredible impact they’ve had in their lives and agencies around the country amplify the voices of Littles on online platforms and social media.

This year, BBBS of SDC talked to Andrea Yeager, a former Little who was deeply impacted by the mentoring she received from her Big. When Andrea was matched, she was just 10 years old, and while they have lost touch throughout the years, she still remembers her Big’s name, profession and their meaningful outings.

Having lacked that extra layer of support and a second parent in her life, Andrea recalls feeling excited when she heard that she soon would have a mentor that she could learn from and count on.

“I am a first-generation high school graduate and college graduate. Odds were stacked against me. Because of my Big I got to experience compassion and investment into me which is something my single mother could not offer me.” – Andrea Yeager, former Little

Sheeri, Andrea’s Big, was a young professional at the time who managed a retirement home. When asked about things they used to do together, Andrea clearly remembers how much she liked visiting the retirement home. This opened up a whole new world for her and for the first time, she felt like she had a sense of what career opportunities she could pursue in the future.

Homelessness and receiving government assistance in her childhood had limited Andrea’s perspective on what it meant to have a career and make a difference in the world. Visiting the retirement home fired up a desire in her to want to do the same for other people. “Recently, I was going through some old school paperwork and saw that I had put down that in my future profession, I wanted to also manage a retirement home just like my Big”, Andrea told BBBS of SDC.

Fast forward to today, while Andrea is not currently managing a retirement home, she is providing support and care for community college students. Through outings with her Big, she realized as a young girl the power of empathy and caring for other people which translated to her now role as a Senior Student Services Assistant at San Diego City College. Andrea also mentioned learning a lot about cultural diversity from her Big. Although Sheeri was not from another country, she taught Andrea a lot about Jewish customs and different belief systems that enrich our collective experience. Cultural diversity thus became a value that developed within her throughout her match with Sheeri.

“While I didn’t follow the exact career pathway of my Big, the trajectory of my life was greatly impacted and I credit the program for giving me the opportunity to be mentored and have that positive reinforcement in my life. Not only does BBBS provide mentors, it provides opportunities.” – Andrea Yeager, former Little

Although her match with Sheeri was not very long, Andrea is still experiencing the ripple effect of her time with her Big. She is currently pursuing her teaching credentials to become an English as a second language (ESL) teacher and hopes to support and work with undocumented students. Andrea also shared that she is planning on becoming a Big herself and will be working with the agency to create outing opportunities at San Diego City College for Bigs and Littles so they can explore the campus and encourage Littles to start thinking about college and the many opportunities available to them.

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