Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County is proud to present its finalists for the 2024 Mentors of the Year from its High School Bigs program. These outstanding young leaders illustrate how peer mentoring helps students achieve their biggest possible futures while making a long-lasting impact on their mentee and their communities.
These six peer mentors have demonstrated a true dedication to their Littles by regularly spending time with them, guiding and supporting them as they navigate growing up through adversity. They have also been an integral part of the mentoring movement as champions and advocates for the impact positive role models have in our community.
Thanks to the support of Angelitos de Oro, an auxilary of Big Brothers Big Sisters or Orange County and the Inland Empire, each of these outstanding mentors will receive college and career funding to continue their advocacy work; two of them will be announced as the winners of the Angelitos Award on January 30 as part of National Mentoring Month.
Ana Galvez (Buena Park High School)
"I would be lying to say that I went into [volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters] with the intent of becoming a difference maker, but instead going into it for a fulfillment of fun. And if I would’ve told my past self on my very first day that this program was going to be a huge part of my life, I would’ve not known what it would be filled with. BBBS has helped me grow not only as a leader and mentor, but as a human in whole. Being part of BBBS has helped me heal an inner part of my younger self, and because of this opportunity, I have decided to continue working with kids in the future by majoring in liberal studies to become an elementary school teacher."
Jocelyn Antonio (Beckman High School)
"I am an only child, and being able to help and guide such an amazing Little gives me such a good feeling;I feel like I am changing someone's life. I think as a mentor I am making an impact on my Little and helping her become a better person and succeeding in her 4th grade class, since she has the same teacher I did when I was in 5th grade! I can share with her my life experiences and help her go in the right direction. It has also helped me become a better person. When I joined, I was very shy and didn’t talk much. Now I am more involved with people, and it helped me become more comfortable with myself."
Maria Martinez (Savanna High School)
"This program has inspired me to give guidance and be a leader in my community. My ultimate goal is to support and encourage others. I hope to one day become a role model outside of school and a dependable guidance counselor for those who lack familial support or positive influences like I did growing up. I myself would have never thought of being someone's Big who can influence and inspire them, because I didn’t believe in myself or my ability to do that. My younger self would be really proud of how I went from being a Little to becoming a mentor for others."
Alexander Dao (Oxford Academy - Cypress)
"Ever since enrolling as a mentor in the High School Bigs program, I have understood the immense value of helping and leading others. Being a mentor has made an impact on not just my Little, but myself as well. I am inclined to do more for both the program, as well as my community in general. As the president of Oxford Academy’s Big Brothers Big Sisters Club, I have been able to help educate my peers on the effects of poverty and low income on education and coordinate team activities that foster interpersonal social skills, such as teamwork and communication. More importantly, through our club, I am able to promote the High School Bigs program to even more students. I feel it is only necessary that I return the favor to the program, as I will be forever grateful for the time I spent there."
Josue Luis (Godinez Fundamental High School)
"The High School Bigs program has given me the opportunity to be more open, more trusting, and more confident in myself. I've had many different experiences where people would try to place me in a box. When I was young, I didn't know that I was differently-abled; I only knew that I had a passion for learning and excelling at what challenged me. I began this journey with my Little Alexander as a stranger, which developed into a relationship that elevated me to mentor. I wasn't only mentoring him; he was mentoring me. My Little feels safe with me as his Big Brother, and my hope for my Little Brother Alexander is that he continues to stay brave and makes people accountable for their relationships with him. I hope he knows that he has made a friend in me and had a huge impact on my life. I want my Little Alexander to keep evolving because he was shy, but now he's super happy and curious about what his future holds."
Kevin Hoang (Pacifica High School)
"As a kid, I would talk endlessly, which I often found myself getting criticized for. I never truly took offense to their remarks, but deep down, this was my biggest insecurity. Unbeknownst to me, my extroverted qualities would soon become my greatest asset and tool in becoming a successful mentor at Big Brothers Big Sisters. Being in the High School Bigs program, for over two years now, has taught me the importance of nurturing and leaving a positive impact on the lives of children, who may or not be facing personal adversity in their lives. These elementary students make up the next generation of leaders, and if their personal needs are not met, such as a lack of attention, then they will grow up divided and isolated from society. Big Brothers Big Sisters has inspired me to extend further and apply my experience working with children to my volunteer work and extracurricular activities outside of the program."