Nelson Ramos is a grad student at Davenport University pursuing his MBA. Self-described as ambitious and outgoing, Nelson attributes those strengths to the constant encouragement of his former, but forever, Big Brother Manuel.
“I think I was in fifth grade or sixth grade when I first met Manuel,” Nelson recalls. “I definitely remember that first initial meeting being a little weird; I was a shyer kid back then. He definitely helped get me out of my shell.”
The match lasted until Nelson reached high school when Manuel moved to Miami. Living in different area codes didn’t stop Manuel from checking-in with Nelson.
“He’s the reason I’m so much more outgoing now,” Nelson praised. “And he’s still a part of my life. Anything job related or school-wise I’m always going to him, so he’s still involved with my life today even though we’re not officially a part of the program anymore.”
During their match as part of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Michigan’s community program the two would hang out almost every weekend, and each experience was different from the next.
“I wanted to become a police officer when I was younger, so I can remember he would take me to different police stations around the city,” Nelson said. “We would also meet up with other matches whenever Big Brothers Big Sisters had group match activities.”
But Nelson’s favorite memory actually took place a few years after their match had closed.
“I remember he and his wife came to my high school graduation,” Nelson recollected with a smile. “We went out to dinner afterwards and I remember it was such a great feeling because he was so proud of me. So that moment always sticks out to me to this day.”
Nelson’s advice to Bigs and parents of Littles?
“Keeping the communication open is so important,” Nelson pronounced. “There wasn’t a time at all where I felt like him and my Mom weren’t on the same page, and I credit that to his open communication and really being involved. It had a huge impact on my life.”
It has been more than a decade since Nelson and Manuel were matched and that time has only helped deepen and strengthen their friendship. Even all these years later, for Nelson (and for many Littles), his Big’s impact is with him every day: he is more self-confident, he did better in school, and has stronger relationships that are lasting a lifetime.