On a hot, sunny day in August, 14 year-old Little Sister Joceline walked into Cristo Rey high school in Dorchester for her freshman orientation. “I was scared to walk into a room full of people I didn’t know,” said Joceline, but she repeated to herself the advice she received from her Big Sister Stephanie Maneikis: be confident and be yourself.
Since being matched with Stephanie one year ago, Joceline has benefited from many opportunities to grow her confidence through new experiences. “Even if I don’t like whatever it is we’ve tried, I’m proud of myself for trying it,” said Joceline. From eating sushi to playing softball, Joceline has loved just about everything she’s done with her Big Sister. The two enjoy being active and frequently play sports together. A former softball player, Stephanie gives her Little Sister pointers on tossing, catching, and hitting, and she took Joceline to the batting cages for the first time. “It was cool to see how powerfully and far I could hit the ball!” Joceline exclaimed. This year she plans to try out for her school’s softball team. Stephanie also nurtures her Little Sister’s interest in sports by taking her to baseball games. Since Stephanie works for the Boston Red Sox, she and her Little Sister have attended several games together at Fenway—another new experience for Joceline, who instantly became a fan. She even got to meet Xander Boegarts.
Meeting new people is another skill that Joceline has honed thanks to her relationship with her Big Sister. “I can get really nervous talking to new people,” said Joceline. Her nerves were put to the test this past summer when she attended the Girls Summer Leadership Program, a week-long camp hosted by the Dana Hall School in Wellesley. The program is designed to help girls find the tools they need to navigate the transition into high school with confidence and self-awareness. Stephanie’s Match Support Specialist, KerriAnne, informed Stephanie that Big Sister Boston could offer Joceline a scholarship to the camp through our partnership with Dana Hall. Stephanie discussed it with her Little Sister and they decided it would be a great fit for rising freshman Joceline. “I was nervous at first, but then everyone was so open,” said Joceline. By the end of the week Joceline had learned valuable leadership and communication skills, and decided that her favorite part of the camp was meeting new people.
This year, Joceline will be facing the challenges of schoolwork, friendships, and sports; balancing priorities and staying true to herself. Thanks to her relationship with Stephanie she feels confident knowing that she will not have to go it alone because she’s already on a winning team with her Big Sister.