Adtalem Volunteers: Meet a ‘Big Sister’

April 15, 2024
a child holding an adult's hand

How volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters helped a healthcare executive stay connected with youth. 

The Adtalem Global Education Foundation’s giving in fiscal year 2023 (July through June) topped $500,000. That included a continuing donation to Big Brothers Big Sisters of America to support their efforts to provide equitable access to education through school tours, mentoring experiences, and exposure to career paths.

There’s more to the Adtalem community’s support for the nation’s largest volunteer-supported mentoring network. According to LinkedIn, more than 250 people who list an Adtalem university in their education also report volunteering for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.

One of those volunteers shared about her experience and the impact it has on her.

My Big Brothers Big Sisters Volunteer Experience

a headshot of Martha Badger

Dr. Martha Badger, MSN ’13, specialized in informatics when she earned her Master of Science in Nursing at Walden University. Today she is healthcare informatics officer for Milwaukee County in Wisconsin.  

I have volunteered for Big Brothers Big Sisters for five years.

The first time was in Boston, where I was a school-based mentor for a girl in third grade. I met with my Little Sister once a week during her lunch hour. We spent our time reviewing her spelling assignments and talking about things in her school and family life that were important to her. I remember vividly a conversation that we had about bullying in the classroom, and we strategized about how she could best ignore classmates who were trying to make her life difficult.

The second time I volunteered was in Milwaukee in the mentor2.0 program. Once a month throughout her four years of high school, I met with my Little Sister in a large group at her school, along with other Littles and Bigs. We spent our time getting to know each other and doing mentor2.0 exercises and assignments that were designed to help achieve success in high school and college applications and develop life skills such as interpersonal communication, relationship building, organization, and planning.

My career, thanks to my graduate education in nursing at Walden University, is as a healthcare executive. Volunteering allows me to spend time with people directly again, like I did when I was a clinical nurse. It is important to me because it keeps me in touch with young people, who I find so vibrant and creative. I always end up learning as much, or more, from the people I volunteer with than they did from me. Volunteering gives me an opportunity to smile, laugh, be lighthearted, all while sharing knowledge and wisdom I may have accumulated over the years.

When you volunteer for Big Brothers Big Sisters, you become part of a community. You share in the successes and challenges of other Big Brothers and Big Sisters through shared storytelling and group meetings. Having volunteered in two cities, I have witnessed the impact that I have on my Little Sisters, and I have seen the impact that the organization has across North America.

Big Brothers Big Sisters and Equity in Healthcare Education 

In February, Dr. Janelle Sokolowich, associate provost of social mission at Chamberlain University, served on a panel discussion about “Equity in Healthcare Education” organized by Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. She talked about how mentorship and representation help nursing students persist through graduation.

a headshot of Janelle Sokolowich
What we have found is that the students who persist are engaged. It’s about being connected to someone, and that someone may or may not be from your same background or same experiences, but they care about you. 

If you are interested in supporting BBBS, find an office in your area.

For more information, email the Adtalem Global Communications Team: