For as long as 18-year-old Joseline can remember, she wanted to go to college. At times, though, she didn’t feel like all her studying and hard work would be enough to get her there. Her Big Sister Zoraida, on the other hand, had no doubt Joseline would overcome any barriers she encountered, and succeed in school and life with flying colors. And she was right.

In high school, Joseline was president, vice president and secretary of more clubs than she can remember. She finished in the Top 25 of her class and spoke at her graduation. Today, Joseline is excited to study environmental engineering at Otterbein University, where she received a full scholarship.

“I just feel like I’ve been her cheerleader,” explains Zoraida. “She’s so smart. All I’ve done is open up the world a little bit for her, shown her some different things. She’s had it in her all along.”

These days the two talk mostly through FaceTime, but the smiles, laughter, hugs and tears come quickly and easily when they’re together. Matched for more than 10 years, Zoraida and Joseline share a lot of happy memories, a love of Ecuadorian food and a deep appreciation for the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio program that brought them together.

“It changes worlds. It changes lives. Without Big Brothers Big Sisters, I wouldn’t have met Zoraida, and she’s the reason I really focused in school and that I’m as good a student as I am,” says Joseline. “She helped me through getting my license, through completing college applications.”

Joseline’s parents are extremely proud of their only daughter, who is the first in their family to attend college. Zoraida’s ability to speak both fluent English and Spanish helped her gain the family’s trust and appreciation right away.

“I don’t know who came up with the whole matching Hispanics with Hispanics, but that was genius!” Joseline exclaims. “Zoraida could talk to my parents and explain things they didn’t understand. My parents love her, and she’s part of the family.”

As Joseline talks, Zoraida wipes away a tear and smiles. “I’m very, very thankful for Big Brothers Big Sisters,” she says. “You can really impact somebody’s life tremendously.”

Donate today to United Way of Central Ohio’s Community Impact Fund. You’ll be helping to match a child with a mentor, providing the support and encouragement she needs to succeed in school and life.

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