Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County and the Inland Empire is proud to announce our 2024 Bigs & Littles of the Year and Mentors of the Year. These nine outstanding individuals, representing four mentoring program models, demonstrate how mentoring relationships help mentees (Littles) achieve their biggest possible futures, while also creating long-lasting impact on the mentors (Bigs).
Every year during National Mentoring Month, BBBS honors these outstanding mentors and matches with a regional title to celebrate extraordinary mentorship, friendship, and advocacy.
Meet our Winners
Click the video above to watch Jazelle and Jennifer share their story.
Jazelle, a bright light facing life’s challenges head-on, found her guiding star in Jennifer, her Big Sister. Jazelle’s journey from 2018 to now is not just a testament to the positive impact of mentorship but a beacon of hope, resilience, and unwavering support.
At the core of this remarkable story is the exceptional bond between Jennifer and Jazelle, evident in the radiant warmth they share. Jennifer’s commitment to Jazelle’s growth goes beyond the ordinary; she actively embraces and celebrates Jazelle’s identity, creating an inclusive space where Jazelle can thrive. Jazelle’s multicultural background and the challenges she faced with a hearing aid became stepping stones to her empowerment, thanks to Jennifer’s dedication to normalizing differences and fostering a sense of belonging.
The impact of this mentorship extends far beyond personal growth; it’s a catalyst for educational triumphs. Jazelle’s acceptance into the Middle College Program was not just about grades but overcoming financial barriers and self-doubt. Jennifer’s relentless support, both emotionally and through rallying a community, ensured Jazelle not only entered the program but excelled at the top of her class. This story echoes the mantra of “defending potential” at Big Brothers Big Sisters, showcasing the profound impact a mentor can have on a young person’s trajectory.
Jennifer and Jazelle’s story is more than a heartwarming narrative—it’s a ripple effect of inspiration. Their journey, shared on regional and national platforms, resonates with many, inspiring others to step forward to be mentors. The story even led to them being named Big Brothers Big Sisters of California’s 2024 Bigs & Littles of the Year!
Click the video above to watch Angel and Chris share their story.
Angel and Chris’s story unfolds as a testament to the profound impact that a sustained commitment can have on a child’s life, recently earning them the honor of being named Big Brothers Big Sisters of California’s 2024 Bigs & Littles of the Year! Their connection goes beyond the conventional mentor-mentee dynamic as the two have grown up together, navigating shared experiences, challenges, and triumphs.
Angel, raised by a single mother, found a positive male influence in Chris when he was matched at the age of eight. What distinguishes this match is Chris’ unwavering dedication to understanding Angel’s unique struggles, particularly his journey of self-acceptance and dealing with the aftermath of bullying and self-doubt about his physical difference. Chris stood by Angel’s side, offering support and creating a safe space for him to express himself, showcasing that mentorship is a continuous journey that encompasses both good and challenging times.
What sets Chris and Angel apart is the enduring nature of their relationship. Even as Angel has transitioned into young adulthood, navigating his first year of college, the two still meet every two weeks to ensure Angel has the support he needs to continue to succeed. Their story stands as an inspiration, emphasizing the transformative power of mentorship and the lasting impact it can bring to both mentor and mentee through lifelong friendship.
High School Bigs Program
In this program, high school students find their voices as community advocates and leaders serving as role models to elementary school students. During weekly group mentoring sessions, they guide students through activities that support academic achievement and personal growth.
Ana is a truly exceptional individual whose commitment to making a positive impact has left an indelible mark on our High School Bigs program. Over the past three years, she has demonstrated an unwavering dedication to fostering connections with her Littles, adapting to each unique relationship, and creating a safe space for growth.
Not only does Ana embody the values of academic and leadership development, but she has also drawn strength from personal experiences to become a compassionate and understanding peer mentor. Her genuine understanding of the kids she mentors and her empathetic approach, stemming from personal experiences of financial hardships and overcoming family struggles, has created a safe haven for her Little. Because of champions of mentorship like Ana, Big Brothers Big Sisters is more than just an after-school program—it’s a place where kids feel heard, safe, and valued.
Beyond the immediate impact within our program, Ana has found inspiration in her journey, recognizing the profound effect that mentorship can have on a child’s life. From healing inner wounds to discovering a passion for working with kids, she has chosen to pursue a career in education, aiming to empower future generations.
It is individuals like Ana who elevate our mission, turning moments of adversity into opportunities for growth, reflection, and positive change.
Over the past two years, Alex has exemplified the true spirit of mentorship within the High School Bigs program, showcasing not only advocacy and leadership development, but also a deeply personal commitment to making a positive impact in his community.
Alex’s mentoring journey began with the idea of exploring a career as a teacher, but it quickly evolved into a profound connection with the Littles in the program, especially his own Little, Bronson. Despite both of their initial shyness, Alex and Bronson built a foundation through shared interests and an appreciation of their differences. Alex’s understanding of the importance of comfort and trust has allowed Bronson to ask for help, whether it be in academics or navigating the challenges of adolescence. This brotherly bond is a testament to the impact a mentor can have on a young person’s life, fostering growth and friendship.
Beyond his individual mentorship, Alex has taken on leadership roles, serving as the president of Oxford Academy’s BBBS Club, taking on fundraising and recruitment efforts and strengthening ties between his school and Big Brothers Big Sisters. His commitment to community engagement and education has extended beyond the program, where he educates peers on the effects of poverty on education and coordinates activities promoting social skills.
Alex’s personal background, rooted in economic disadvantage, mirrors the challenges that many of our Littles face. His commitment to giving back through mentoring reflects his gratitude for the transformative influence Big Brothers Big Sisters has had in his own life. We applaud Alex for his outstanding contributions and look forward to seeing the positive impact he continues to make within our community!
Workplace Mentoring Program
Corporate and community partners sponsor mentoring relationships between their employees and young people at local high schools or community colleges. Matches connect during monthly group mentoring sessions to help students develop career goals and prepare for the workforce.
Ivy is being honored as Mentor of the Year for her exceptional commitment and dedication to the Workplace Mentoring program at Disneyland Resort. She has gone above and beyond in her corporate mentoring responsibilities, cultivating a substantial connection with her mentee, Alexandria. Outside of their monthly group sessions, Ivy arranges regular bimonthly lunches with Alexandria and has enjoyed showing her support at her show choir performances. Ivy’s extra efforts to enhance her mentee’s experience makes her a true role model and advocate for mentorship.
Ivy has also shown her mentee the power of volunteering and the joy it brings to a person’s life by inviting her to a volunteer day at OC Food Bank. Her genuine care and efforts to go above and beyond for Alexandria exemplifies Ivy’s passion for making a difference in her community.
Congratulations to Ivy for being an outstanding mentor and igniting, empowering, and defending the potential of her mentee!
Tyler’s commitment shines through his consistent presence and support, creating an environment where his mentee, Anthony, can authentically pursue his passions. Tyler has empowered Anthony’s love for fashion and interest in pursuing it as a career path, arranging college tours and encouraging him to apply for the Nordstrom Ambassador Program. Anthony’s acceptance into the coveted program stands as a clear indication of Tyler’s commitment to empowering his mentee’s personal and professional growth.
Anthony’s remarkable progress in reaching his potential is a testament to the impact of Tyler’s mentorship. Starting as a soft-spoken individual, Anthony expressed a desire to build self-confidence when he joined the Workplace Mentoring program. Thanks to Tyler’s encouragement to be himself, Anthony underwent a transformative change. At a summer engagement event at Knotts Berry Farm, Anthony unveiled a new, confident look, cutting his hair shorter and standing tall for the first time.
Tyler’s positive advocacy for mentorship and the Big Brothers Big Sisters mission is evident in his approach to allow his mentee to be himself, providing a safe space for creative expression, and encouraging Anthony to step out of his comfort zone to achieve his goals. Tyler’s mentorship exemplifies the true spirit of Big Brothers Big Sisters, and we congratulate him on being named one of our 2024 Workplace Mentoring Mentors of the Year.
College Bigs Program
This innovative program opens doors to new opportunities for high school students and enriches the lives of college students. College mentors, many of whom are first-generation students, help their high school mentees from similar backgrounds overcome education and economic barriers while strengthen their college readiness.
Vyianna is being recognized for her outstanding commitment to the College Bigs program on the University of California, Irvine campus and her unwavering dedication to her mentee, Ruth. Vyianna’s impact on the College Bigs program is profound, demonstrated through her efforts to foster an inclusive and supportive community among her UCI peers. She organizes events, promotes diversity, offers guidance, and actively contributes to the growth of the College Bigs program on campus, creating a positive environment for mentorship at UCI.
Despite both Vyianna and Ruth having busy academic schedules, Vyianna consistently checks in and provides support, going the extra mile to ensure Ruth feels both supported and empowered within and outside the program. Vyianna has taken a substantial role in Ruth’s college application process, offering guidance and support at every stage. Beyond guidance, Vyianna serves as Ruth’s biggest cheerleader, offering continuous encouragement and support.
Vyianna’s advocacy for mentorship and the Big Brothers Big Sisters mission extends to her recruitment efforts, expanding the organization’s impact and creating a positive ripple effect on her college campus.