“The students created it themselves, and it’s a golden eagle with a fledgling eagle being nurtured under its wing. To me, it perfectly captures the spirit of the Big Sibs,” said Connie Hood, director of TTU’s Honors Program.
Big Sibs are a unique feature of the university’s Honors Program — one that’s helped it earn the distinction of being recognized as one of the top five co-curricular programs of its kind in the nation, in fact.
Current TTU Honors Program student volunteers serve as Big Sibs (big brothers or big sisters), and their primary purpose is to help their incoming Little Sib (new Honors freshmen) counterparts adjust to college life — which is not always an easy task, Hood said.
“Being a Big Sib is one of the toughest jobs in the Honors Program, but what it all comes down to is caring about others and being someone for others to lean on,” she said.
Students who are selected for the volunteer positions are expected to attend two training retreats each academic year, where they learn communication, listening, life-training, team building and teamwork skills that help them better interact with and help solve common problems of incoming students and their parents.
They help with the various tasks of orientation and registration, and they are later matched by major, hobby and other interests to incoming Honors freshmen who have indicated they’d like to be considered a Little Sib.
“Each Big Sib writes or phones his or her Little Sibs during the summer to answer questions and help them get ready to come to college,” Hood said. “Then, they meet their Little Sibs when they arrive, maybe help them move in and do whatever is needed to help their Little Sibs adjust.”
This year, TTU’s Honors Program has roughly 80 Big Sib volunteers and 250 incoming freshmen, with most choosing to participate as a Little Sib.
Shawn Trivette, a senior sociology and chemical engineering major who serves as one of four co-chairs of TTU’s Big Sibs this year, said the volunteer assigned to him brought him soup when he was in bed sick as a freshman.
“It was a really nice thing to do, something I always remembered, and it made me realize that was the kind of thing I’d like to be able to do for someone else,” he said.
Hood said she is often humbled by how much the Big Sib student volunteers and co-chairs accomplish together each year.
“This is a wonderfully subtle training program that helps students grow as individuals and assume leadership positions outside of the classroom. Part of the joy I get from being director of TTU’s Honors Program is seeing how beautifully these students grow up,” she said.