Southeast Missouri State University recently was recognized as Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of Eastern Missouri’s 2017 Community Partner of the Year. This is the first time that a university has been recognized as their Community Partner of the Year.
The award was presented at the National Mentoring Month Celebration Jan. 18 in St. Louis. Chris Martin, chief of staff and assistant to the president for strategy and government relations, accepted the award on Southeast’s behalf.
BBBS has worked with Southeast Missouri State University for a number of years. Around 200 Southeast students are currently involved with the BBBS program as Campus Life and Event Services has hosted several events in partnership with the Southeast Serves program and the President’s Leadership Academy, according to Michele Irby, director of Campus Life and Event Services at Southeast.
Irby also serves on an advisory board at Jefferson Elementary School in Cape Girardeau and has coordinated activities with Southeast students and BBBS’s ABCToday Network. It challenges children in the BBBS program to “Attend school, Behave when they get there and experience Classroom performance in reading and math.”
Beginning this year, BBBS is participating in the Academic Support Centers’ Mentoring Program (AMP) at the University. Under this arrangement, a Southeast student is employed by AMP and works in BBBS’ Cape Girardeau office while also staffing an office space in the Academic Support Center to assist in recruiting “Bigs” – adult volunteers — for the program, according to Trent Ball, associate dean of students and director of student retention at Southeast, who also serves on the BBBS Advisory Council for Education and Employment. R. Xavier Payne began volunteering with the program last year and is now coordinating the recruitment effort on campus.
In addition, Academic Support Centers shared their mentoring program structure with the local BBBS chapter as they developed their mentoring program. Currently, Southeast has five students from BBBS working with staff in the Academic Support Centers.
Tameka Randle, assistant director for outreach at Southeast, has worked closely with the ABC Today program and BBBS on activities at Cape Central High School and their work with the Community Caring Council.
Beginning in 2013 when BBBS began to expand their work into college readiness and preparedness, Southeast began partnering with them through the Academic Support Centers’ College Access Partnership Award Program (CAP-A) to host campus visits during the school year and summer overnight visits. The program continues this summer with leadership from Tashanna Rucker, BBBS’ senior director of education and employment who is also a Southeast alumna, and James Williams, assistant director for Educational Access Programs at the University.
According to its mission, “for more than 100 years, Big Brothers Big Sisters has operated under the belief that inherent in every child is the ability to succeed and thrive in life. As the nation’s largest donor- and volunteer-supported mentoring network, Big Brothers Big Sisters makes meaningful, monitored matches between adult volunteers (“Bigs”) and children (“Littles”), ages 6 through 18, in communities across the country. They develop positive relationships that have a direct and lasting effect on the lives of young people.”