I'Yanna Johnson loves books and wants to be a veterinarian. She's 14 years old and was recently matched with a Big Sister as part of a two-year mentoring grant supported by the Community Foundation. The grant pairs 9- to 14-year-old girls with women mentors who encourage their growth in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), through personal encouragement and academic opportunities.
"We want young girls in Flint to know that they can be anything they want. This grant allows us to present girls with multiple learning opportunities and connect them with professional mentors who have succeeded in their own fields," said Reta Stanley, President and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters, which organizes the program. Each month participants receive a newsletter highlighting STEM-related activities for them to try, and periodic group events emphasize STEM skills and careers. This summer, mentor pairs will attend a two-day STEM camp, as well as field trips to the planetarium and other locations.
Diana Wright, a former school principal, is I'Yanna's Big Sister in the program. "Whatever I can do to encourage her in her path, that's what I'm here for," said Diana. A few months ago, Diana took I'Yanna to a bookstore for the first time, and plans for a first-ever trip to the zoo are in the works. With mentors like Diana listening and responding, the future will be limitless for these young women.