Students discover a passion for mentoring

Feb 06, 2020
big brothers big sisters marti viale zogleman sara

Though senior Martina Viale and junior Sara Zogleman do not have any biological sisters, they have become mentors to two little sisters through the Kansas Big Brothers Big Sisters program.

Sara Zogleman was scrolling on her phone one day when she saw an advertisement for the organization.

Sara Zogleman and Martina Viale

“I actually saw it on Instagram. I clicked the ad and got more info about it,” she said. “Then, I reached out to one of the employees for Big Brothers Big Sisters and started the application process.”

Zogleman then convinced Viale to be a mentor.

“I got involved because my best friend Sara started to talk about it,” Viale said. “I always wanted to have siblings, so once she mentioned that I would be volunteering and become the big sister to a little girl, I couldn’t say no.”

Viale was matched with 9-year-old Kurrency, whom she describes as “talkative, sassy and fun.”

Viale and Kurrency

Viale said, “She is super energetic and sometimes I do prefer to just hang out and not go crazy. Finally, I realized that being a little bit different in character is a perfect match,” Viale said. “I am teaching her to read more and relax more, instead of living life all in a rush, and she is pushing me to do more fun things.”

Zogleman, who played Jovie last semester in “Elf the Musical,” has found many similar hobbies with her “little,” 11-year-old Tatiyanna. 

Zogleman and Tatiyanna perform in “Elf the Musical”

“She said when she grows up she wants to become an actor and has always liked singing, dancing and acting, so I thought we could share a lot of the same interests,” Zogleman said. “She loves Sprite, just like I do. She’s a little sassy girl.”

Zogleman said the program is incredibly fulfilling.

“You can be their role model throughout their lives and help them get through their tough times,” Zogleman said. “She has nine siblings, so she doesn’t get a lot of one-on-one time. It’s just her mom and her siblings, so it’s definitely the one-on-one time that is very important for kids.”

Viale said this opportunity has helped her see the impact she can really make.

Kurrency and Viale at the Wichita Public Library

“I feel like this experience is making me understand how much influence our actions have on little ones. The very first time we met, she told me that she doesn’t want to go to college and that her favorite subject was recess.”

Through trips to Newman, Wichita State University and the Wichita Public Library, Viale tried to peak her little’s interest in academics.

“Slowly, she changed her opinion, Viale said. “Now she says that she wants to be a veterinarian and that her favorite subjects are math and science.”

Zogleman’s favorite memories lie in the community activities she attends with her little.

“We went bowling and she was like ‘I’m too big for bumpers. That’s not me.’ I said okay,” Zogleman said. “We got a game in and she was like, ‘Can I please have bumpers?’ because she was hitting every gutter ball.”

Kurrency and Tatiyanna

Viale echoes that the interaction with her little makes it all worth it.

“My favorite part is the bond that I get to create with this little girl,” Viale said. “It made my heart so happy when she started making drawings for me and saying that she loves me.”

Zogleman said being a mentor for Tatiyanna has given her a sense of accomplishment.

“The biggest takeaway is just the feeling that I helped in the community and that I helped make a difference in someone’s life,” she said.

Viale said being a mentor is gratifying for both the little and the big.

“Don’t think about being the perfect mentor or being scared that you won’t find the perfect match,” she said. “The bond comes with time and being a good mentor is a skill that you develop with practice. Those kids need stability and being there for them will be a big reward.”

Zogleman encourages others to be a mentor.

“Even if you are just thinking about it, go ahead and apply,” she said. “It will be worth it and it will be life-changing for you and your little.” 

To find more information or to volunteer as a mentor for a little, visit the Kansas Big Brothers Big Sisters’ website