LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Shawna Blair learned the importance of mentorship at a very early age. As a child, she watched her father, who was a swim coach, mentor and mold the lives of his young athletes. She knew when she got older, she’d like to become a role model for young women as well.

“When I got out of college in 2003, I was looking for a way to serve and specifically work with young women and Big Brothers Big Sisters was the perfect organization,” Shawna said.

In 2003, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arkansas paired up Shawna with her Little, Briana, who was just nine years old at the time.

“She was painfully shy at first, but I think my outgoingness kind of brought out her confidence,” Shawna said.

Briana was raised in a single parent household and was the only girl at home. She said Shawna came into her life when she was shy and didn’t fit in at school.

“Having her as someone that I could look up to really helped me to understand that there are many people out there that may not look like me, but we have similar interests,” Briana said.

The two bonded over their love for reading Harry Potter books. While their friendship quickly blossomed, they lost touch two short years later when Shawna moved to Washington, D.C. for a job.

“Shawna make a huge impact on my life. Being with Shawna made me feel like I mattered and as I got older, I was like, where is she?”

So Briana decided to go on Facebook to find Shawna. She successfully found Shawna and decided to message her.

“It was so heartfelt and it was so touching,” Shawna said about reading the Facebook message. “I had often thought about her. She’s in her mid 20s now and I wonder what she’s doing and I wonder how she’s doing.”

Shawna and Briana reconnected and are now part of each other’s lives. Because of the impact Shawna left on Briana’s life, she now wants to become a Big.

For more information about how to become a BIG, click here.