Skip to Main Site Navigation Skip to Content Skip to Footer
Back To Top

'A college future is possible'

Published on March 07, 2022

'A college future is possible'

CCE mentoring program welcomes local middle school students to campus

BBBS student leader Camryn Tyson shares the day's plan with Littles and Bigs

The Center for Community Engagement (CCE) at Eastern Connecticut State University organizes more than 10 community service programs ranging from helping those who suffer from homelessness to working with the elderly and local school children.

One of the CCE's ongoing partnerships is with Nutmeg Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS), a mentoring program with Windham Middle School that is hosted in the University's Student Center. On a weekly basis throughout the semester, Eastern volunteers meet with middle schoolers for various activities that build character, develop emotional intelligence, encourage creativity and more.

Led by BBBS student leader Camryn Tyson, BBBS students, who are called “Littles,” are paired with CCE volunteers, who are referred to as “Bigs.” Each week the Littles are paired to the same Bigs so they can become familiar with each other and foster trust. The process for paring the right Little to Big is based on both parties’ responses and personalities.

“We like to do one-on-one because we want the match to be successful,” said Tyson. “You can put a kid with anybody and they’re going to talk, but because they’re here with the same person every week, they’re learning about each other more, so the connection is stronger and more personal.”

On a recent visit to Eastern, the Littles learned about expressing emotions. Tyson gave the students a set of questions to think about: “What are your triggers? What makes you calm? What makes you upset? What makes you nervous? What makes you happy?”

On this day, the Bigs and Littles visited the Art Gallery in Eastern’s Fine Arts Instructional Center. “Art is another way to express your feelings,” said Tyson of the reason for the visit.

Other projects Littles participate in include public speaking, debates and campus exploration activities such as scavenger hunts.

“My Littles didn’t really know that college was an option,” said Tyson. “The program let’s them know that college students are diverse. That is why when picking my mentors, I strive for a diverse group to work with diverse children. Littles are seeing that no matter who you are, college is an option for you. We want Littles to see people that look like them and come from the same backgrounds, which makes it easier for them to see that a college future is possible.”

Written by Bobbi Brown