KNOXVILLE, Tenn — Some recent graduates are getting help navigating life after high school.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee is keeping them connected through a new post-secondary mentorship program.
Whitney McVeigh and Jazmine Walker were first matched through BBBS's Mentor 2.0 program while Walker attended South Doyle High School.
"I look back at Jazmine four years ago, and it's hard to believe that she's become the person that she is," Whitney said.
However, it wasn't until Jazmine graduated that she and Whitney made a strong connection.
"She's grown to an actual big sister to me, like not even in technical terms, but in literal terms," Jazmine smiled.
Whitney admits she was a little intimidated when she first met Jazmine.
"Well, first of all she's made me realize that teenagers are not scary," Whitney laughed. "We went from being someone we just saw once a month to being friends."
When Jazmine went to college Whitney gave her advice on everything from resumes to careers at their weekly coffee shop visits, and during the pandemic their time together became even more important.
"We would meet on video calls and continue our discussions. We'd ask each other how we're pulling through, how our lives have changed," Whitney said.
Big Brothers Big Sisters' post-secondary success program currently includes 15 matches supporting each other through a difficult year.
"You don't just turn 18 and graduate high school and have everything figured out. You still need people checking in," said Whitney Baker, Director of BBBS' E-Mentoring and post-secondary success program. "The challenges students are facing, who are going into college right now are very different. So, this is also us learning the best ways to support them through this kind of virtual world that we're in."
And it's helping Whitney as she becomes more than just a mentor to Jazmine.
"She's also just been a really kind person to have in my life," Whitney said.
"I definitely wouldn't be where I am today, if it wasn't for this program and for Whitney," Jazmine smiled. "I'm a totally changed person because of her."
Click here to become a mentor or volunteer.