Geneva Martin, Communications Committee
Laura Putwen graduated from the Student Leader Fellowship Program (SLFP) in 2011 but still holds a relationship with the program today. Laura graduated from Northern with a bachelor’s degree in social work and is currently one of two Match Support & Enrollment Specialists for the Big Brothers Big Sisters program in Marquette. “Big Brothers Big Sisters is a non-profit organization that's been in Marquette and Alger Counties for over 40 years. We make meaningful matches between ages of 6-18 ("Littles") and our adult volunteers ("Bigs"). Our Bigs help their Littles reach their full potential in aspects of their lives through one-on-one relationships," says Laura. She oversees some of the community-based matches along with running the Lunch Buddies and Campus Kids programs.
Laura, a Teal Block, still holds great memories from her experience in the program. Reflecting on her favorite memory, she stated, “This isn't easy to answer because I had so many good memories while in the SLFP, but if I had to pick just one, it would have to be Fall Retreat. Bay Cliff Health Camp is such an amazing place, and they do such wonderful things for kids throughout the year. I think we're just lucky to get to experience going there twice while we're in the program. It's a weekend full of fun activities and when you really get to bond with your block.” For her Community Service Internship, Laura and two other Student Fellows ran an after-school program at Superior Hills Elementary school called Start Fit, Stay Fit. “We worked with a group of girls who were struggling with their weight and made a program around healthy choices that affected all aspects of their life.” The Start Fit Stay Fit program is an internship that has continued since Laura worked with this program.
Since working with Big Brothers Big Sisters, Laura has had the opportunity to continue working with the SLFP since some of the current Student Fellows are volunteering there. One of them is Danielle Keeler, an athletic training/pre-physical therapy major. Danielle works with the Lunch Buddies program, where she shares, “The Lunch Buddies program has been my favorite because I'm able to observe how happy the kids are to hang out with their Bigs. I find this program extremely rewarding when the kids tell me their favorite part of the day is Lunch Buddies.”
The relationship between Laura and Danielle is unique in the sense that both have been a part of the SLFP and both of them have valued their experience together. Laura shares, “It's been a great experience working with the SLFP'ers, and they all bring something different to the table. It's been really fun to see how they've become more comfortable working with the matches since week one and now how they interact. They're much more comfortable jumping in an interacting with everyone.” Danielle reflects that, “Working with Laura is very fun and laid back. I can easily relate to her since she's been in my shoes, and I can see she is passionate about helping children.” Together they make a bridge between current students and graduates of the SLFP--both working to create positive impacts and leadership in the Marquette community.