Post #3 – Amanda

My name is Amanda Moran, I am a junior at Bryn Mawr College. I am also a
McBride student, which means I did not go the traditional student route. I started part-time at the Community College of Philadelphia at the age of 23
and transferred to Bryn Mawr College last fall. I have a background working in biomedical research and a strong passion for the study of genetics. As a
psychology major, I hope to either pursue a PhD in Developmental Psychology or use my well-rounded understanding of development to work with and help adolescents in another way.

One day, last spring, while sitting in my elementary French class, my professor Julien Suaudeau, who is one of the coordinators alongside Inés Arribas, brought up the Big Sisters Program. He told us once a week a group of Bryn Mawr students went to Willard Elementary School in Kensington and mentored third and fourth-grade female students. I was immediately drawn to the program for two reasons: First, as someone who also came from a slightly rough upbringing as well, I owe most of my success to the adults who showed me not just care but consistency. It’s an honour to be a part of that for someone else, as it was done for me. Secondly, I have always enjoyed working with children and, as someone who is narrowing down a career path, I wanted to see if working hands-on with children and adolescents would be something I am interested in.

The first week we met our little sisters and did some icebreakers. Samiah and Taniyah probably didn’t even need those, they have never been shy, which I enjoy that about them. The last few weeks I have spent one on one time with Samiah. We start off with an icebreaker, and then we read and write for twenty to thirty minutes. Although she gets to pick which book she wants to read, I try and influence her to read about a different subject each week. I do this in an attempt to broaden her interests and knowledge a little more. Last week, we read a book about following rules in class and this week we read a Zoobook (okay, I strongly influenced this one) about turtles. She then writes on a topic given by Teresa, the coordinator of the program at Willard, who is also their guidance counselor. Samiah is an excellent writer and, as evidenced by all the questions she asks, she genuinely cares about her work.

The final and best part of our time together is the free time at the end. Samiah always insists on playing a special form of Jenga, in which each block has a question on it. I can’t say exactly what is discussed, because one of the rules set forth by Teresa is that what is said there stays there. I believe that is important, and I think because of it Samiah lets me into her life a little more each week. This past Friday she told me something personal and followed it with, “I only tell my best friends that, and well you, because I really like you and I trust you.” At the end of each week, we talk about small goals for the next week or anything exciting coming up for her that she will want to tell me about when I see her next. It’s a privilege to work with these girls; they have huge hearts and strong potential. I think as big sisters we not only get the chance to give back, but we also have the opportunity to learn more about ourselves personally and academically.

Post #2 – Sierra

My name is Sierra Norman, I am a senior at Bryn Mawr College. I am majoring in Psychology on the Pre-Med track and minoring in Child & Family Studies. I have always had a passion for helping children and am pursuing a career as a pediatric psychiatrist where I can continue to do so.

When I was a freshman at Bryn Mawr College, I wanted to find a club or program to volunteer with that was focused on helping children. I joined the Belmont Mentoring Club, which partnered with the Belmont Charter School to help the students with homework, attend their extracurricular clubs, and do activities with them. Unfortunately, the program ended during my sophomore year and there wasn’t another to replace it. So when I read about the Big Sister Program last Spring, I was so excited and immediately reached out to get information about how I could be involved! I met with the program organizers, Inés Arribas and Julien Suaudeau, and was on board to start this Fall.

The program started with a group meeting for the members on campus and then another meeting for a tour of Willard Elementary School before working with the Little Sisters. We have had three meetings with our Little Sister’s this semester. The first day we met with the girls, they were so happy to start the program, but also a little shy. I was very excited and was hoping my Little Sisters would like me! We spent some time the first day with icebreakers and getting to know one another.

Our main goal with this program, aside from being a constant for the children to rely on, is to help prepare them for the Pennsylvania System School Assessment (PSSA). We spend most of our time reading and writing with them to prepare for the test. We also spend a little bit of time with icebreakers and fun activities to help establish a bond. Since we are still early on in the program, my Little Sister is a little shy and quiet. But she has shown more silliness this week and also is very willing to get prepared for the PSSA, so I am looking forward to working with her for the rest of the program!

I am really excited to invite our Little Sisters to come to Bryn Mawr College’s campus in the spring and show them around. Other members of the Big Sisters Program will be writing about their experiences over the next few weeks, so stay tuned to read about them!

Post #1 – Jackie

My name is Jacquelyn Arroyo. I am a Freshman at Bryn Mawr College and one of the six students volunteering in the Big Sisters Program.


I am more than honoured to be a mentor for third- and fourth-grade girls at Willard Elementary School, but also a big sister. I came into this program eager and ready to face the unexpected. The very first day of the program, when I met my little sisters Honesty, Yoselin and Yelitza, I felt a burst of joy just thinking of the amazing experience the students are gaining. Every Friday, we drive up to Kensington, where the school is located. We wait for our little sisters to arrive at the library where we host the program. We start as a group with an ice-breaker activity before we split in small groups (two little sisters with one big sister), and the girls pick a book they would like to read. When one of our little sisters is reading with her mentor, the other one writes on a topic given. We end our sessions with games that we play with other sister groups. When our time is up, we all leave ready for next week’s gathering or wanting more time to spend with each other.  


On the first day, it was tough to get them talking at first but when the barrier was broken, we were laughing and smiling. Honesty, one of my little sisters, said she never had anyone ask her what her dreams or aspirations were. She smiled and said that everyone should be a part of these wonderful groups of girls. My little sister Yoselin was eager to read but struggled because of her little knowledge of the English language, having arrived recently from Puerto Rico to Philadelphia. However, that did not stop her. She persisted through and was able to read three full pages of Where The Wild Things Are on her own. I had never seen so much grit and determination in a third-grader.  


I am very excited to be a part of this program, because of how it creates a learning culture for the Willard Elementary students. When I was their age, I never received the opportunity to have a mentor that was able to help me in my academics and life problems. I come from a rough background, just like many of the students at Willard. My goal is to increase their self-confidence and to remind them that they are still able to succeed regardless of the background they come from. My little sisters and I learn a lot from one another, from what we want to be when we grow up to why we joined and do this program. I can’t wait to continue my journey with them and see them grow and blossom.