This fall, Des Moines University embarked on a “Pathways to Success” partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Iowa and Des Moines Public Schools.
The program connects local schools with corporations and institutions to match employees and mentees for structured in-school mentoring opportunities and field trips to the Bigs’ workplace throughout an academic year.
DMU mentors are staff and faculty from various departments across campus who utilize community service leave to meet their students regularly at their school. DMU also hosts mentees on the DMU campus three different times in the course of the year. Worksheets and activities guide an exploration of various types of careers and stress the importance of education and goal-setting, but it’s the opportunity to build relationships that truly makes a difference for the matches.
“Kids are full of great potential, but middle school can be a challenging time,” says Barb Boose, DMU publications director. “My Littles are smart, energetic and full of ideas, so I hope to do whatever I can to help them stay confident in themselves and their career aspirations. I know they’re going to broaden my perspectives, too. It’s been great fun both spending time with my Littles and sharing the experience with other DMU Bigs.”
The goal of the “Pathways to Success” program is to connect students with supportive adults who model successful paths that students can connect to their own interests and dreams. The small group mentoring relationships introduce students to career and educational opportunities — and give DMU employees a chance to connect to the community in a fun, focused way.
“I appreciate that the ‘Pathways to Success’ program coordinators have developed agendas and curriculum for each meeting ,” says Brianne Sanchez, DMU community relations manager. “Having point-people focused on making the matches a success makes communicating and coordinating between DMU and the school a breeze. As a mentor, I like having age-appropriate activities to spark discussions. Whether our talks turn serious or silly, I can see my matches’ minds whirling and know we’re inspiring them to think about their futures.”
On their first trip to DMU, Littles got to see the workspace of their Bigs and then got the opportunity to meet DMU students and learn about diagnostic equipment in a “What’s in a Doctor’s Bag” presentation.