Laughter and tears.
First came a loud, drawn-out “SURPRI-I-I-I-S-S-S-E.” Then the laughter. And tears.
But they were happy tears, as Anna Payson discovered she had won a $10,000 scholarship for her Peer Mentoring services with the Big Brothers Big Sisters Association of Colchester.
“You are so deserving,” mentoring coordinator Shawna Fraser said, to an astonished Payson. “I couldn’t think of a better peer mentor to have received this award.”
Payson was the recipient of the scholarship through the Ted Rogers Scholarship Fund, which is to be paid out in annual increments of $2,500 over four years.
“Your family and friends have all been in on this,” Fraser said. “Of course, we’ve been able to keep that from you. It wasn’t easy because you are so deserving, you’ve done amazing things with your two years with us with the Peer Mentoring Program. You’ve always been so caring and compassionate with your mentees. You’ve just shown true genuine concern for the lives and wellbeing of them and I want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your friendship and compassion towards our mentees.”
Peer mentoring is a program designed specifically for high school students which involves having students in grades 11 or 12 being matched with students in lower grades to help in their transition to high school through support, encouragement or just having fun.
This is the second year of peer mentoring for Payson, 18, of Salmon River, who is graduating from the Cobequid Educational Centre this year.
Payson said she became involved after seeing the fun that a friend’s family had when they had people over for Big Brother Big Sister events.
“I just thought that was really cool and a friend and I actually started the mentoring program together,” she said.
Mentors and mentees are matched one-on-one based on their interests and personalities, with matched pairs generally meeting once a week on school property, usually during lunch break.
“And usually we would just have lunch and talk about her day and what’s going on at school, with her friends and at home. Just basically checking up on her and stuff like that,” Payson said. “Along with that also we would joke around. It was like a friendship as well so it was the best of both worlds, I guess.”
Payson has had a mentee during both grades 11 and 12 and said she hopes she was able to instill some self-confidence as they began their high school experience.
“I hope that they feel like they have some better advice going towards the future and that they have someone to talk to if they ever feel alone or anything like that,” she said. “I found especially as the year went on and she became more comfortable around me, we were really close and I was able to really connect with her,” she added, of her last match.
Payson plans to undertake a business major at St. FX University over the next four years and said the Rogers Scholarship ensures that will happen.
“It’s incredibly important. It’s just reassurance that I will be able to go to St. FX, which is what I’ve wanted to do for as long as I can remember to study business and be able to do what I want to do,” she said. “I am extremely grateful to have so many people around me that are so supportive and that I got to be part of such a great program.”