Denise is barely a teenager, yet her life is already full of adult sized challenges. Every day she watches her mom try to cope with depression, her older sister, a teenager as well, dropped out of high school and is already the mother of two. She shares a small bedroom with five other family members in a small house in a rough section of San Antonio.
Erin Mankus has been Denise’s “Big Sister” for the past six years through Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Texas. Each week Erin plans a special activity with Denise and they explore the world that seems beyond Denise’s reach. Erin helps her see that it’s not. They work to create enthusiasm about the possibilities that open up for those who pursue their education with passion and dedication.
With Erin’s help, Denise has achieved impressive grades throughout high school, and they are currently studying hard for her upcoming SAT exams. Denise will become the first member of her family to attend a university.
Erin, currently medical student, says that her connection to Denise isn’t temporary. “I will always be a part of Denise’s life. She is a part of my family now. I plan on working with Big Brothers Big Sister in the future and work with a new little sister as soon as Denise is off to college.”