Meet the 2018-2019 Big Sib Chairs!

The Big Sibs Chairs for the 2018-2019 school year have been announced.

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By Emily Siew

Juniors Jessica Gruboy, Jennifer Lee, Angela Sun, Joshua Weiner, and Bo Xuan Wu have been selected as the 2018-2019 Big Sib Chairs. They were chosen out of many qualified applicants by 2017-2018 Big Sib Chairs Kevin Li‎, Max Onderdonk, Charlotte Ruhl, Leila Storkamp, and Aren Tucker. Both the previous chairs and their successors are excited for the upcoming year and future plans for the program.

The process of selecting Big Sib Chairs was stressful for many applicants. “It was very nerve-racking for everyone,” Sun said. Besides a written application, applicants had to be interviewed by the five current Big Sib Chairs and two faculty members from the faculty oversight committee. “We take notes on every [interviewee], and then we have to come together [...] and see who would work well together,” Storkamp said. Prospective chairs also needed recommendation letters from a teacher and two Little Sibs. On top of that, the 2017-2018 chairs reached out to the homeroom leaders of the candidates to ask for input.

The 2017-2018 Big Sib Chairs made several changes during their time as heads of the program. “The main change that we made [...] [is that] we ratified [the Big Sib bylaws] with the guidance counselors,” Storkamp said. The bylaws resolved disputes between the chairs and the guidance counselors, outlined proper conduct for Big Sibs, and solidified grade cutoff and the removal process of a chair. These bylaws will hopefully give the rising Big Sib Chairs an easier experience managing the program.

Storkamp had a very positive experience as both a Big Sib and a Big Sib Chair, and hopes that the new chairs will have a similar experience. “I loved [being a Big Sib Chair], of course. It was something I wanted to do since freshman year,” she said. “It’s kind of bittersweet that it’s over. I know [the Big Sib program] is in good hands going forward, but I’m also sad that I’m no longer a part of it.”

Before the new Big Sib Chairs were picked, the members that make up this diverse group were not close, nor were they in similar friend groups. “It’s better that we come from completely different parts of Stuyvesant and different communities just because we’re able to bring that all together,” Gruboy said. “They knew we would be able to mesh well, and we do.”

Adding on, Lee said, “Meshing together and being able to officially work together and implement new ideas [...] is very important.” Arriving to the table with their own unique Stuyvesant experiences, the new chairs are excited for the year to come and for the opportunity to give back to the community as a group. “I can’t imagine myself doing this with anyone else,” Sun said.

Sun is a member of the symphonic orchestra and participates in ARISTA. She is also a part of the Indicator Business department and performs in the Latin dance group for SING! and Stuy Squad. Being a role model for both Big Sibs and Little Sibs is very rewarding for her. “Being able to [...] lead the [organization] and set an example is a huge role,” Sun said. “It’s something that we all […] strive for.”

The Big Sib Program’s far reach allowed Sun to meet many people both inside and outside of the program. “It’s such a great organization just because you really get to see a lot of the student body,” she said.

Wu is an active participant in SING! and the Stuyvesant Theater Community and has been involved in many shows, such as “1776,” which he directed. He is the executive delegate for the Student Union, as well as a bass player for the symphonic orchestra. Wu enjoyed the process of giving back to freshmen as a Big Sib and watching them become more involved in the community. “[The Big Sib Program] is the epitome of giving back to the community, in a Stuyvesant sense,” Wu said.

Wu was inspired by his Big Sib, who pushed him to take risks and venture out of his comfort zone. “One of the many things I didn’t have as a freshman was [...] the courage to [take] initiative,” Wu said. After he voiced his interest in auditioning for a school play, his Big Sib gave him her full support and told him to put himself out there.

Lee is a chair on the Board of Elections, and runs election season for the spring and fall terms. She is also a part of ARISTA and manages the boys’ lacrosse team. Additionally, she participated in Congressional Debate for two years, and was the novice debate director this past school year. Outside of school, she teaches kids in China how to speak English through an online program.

Lee is inspired by the example of her Big Sibs, and she hopes she can provide the same experience for someone else. “Like a lot of people, I had one really, really good Big Sib,” she said. “I wanted to give back the way he did. He helped me when I didn’t have anybody to help me [...] Because I had such a significant relationship with my Big Sib, every freshman should have that relationship with their Big Sib, and they deserve it.”

Weiner is the captain of Congressional Debate and a member of Model United Nations. He also sits in on SLT meetings and writes for The Spectator. He was motivated to be a chair by his former Big Sib, as well as by his experiences as a Big Sib. “It’s been really amazing, and working with the freshmen in my homeroom has been a lot of fun,” he said.

Weiner hopes to improve the program for everyone involved. “I want to make this organization the best it can be for both Big Sibs and also for incoming freshmen,” he said. “I really love this program. It’s been so impactful for me, just like it’s been so impactful for thousands upon thousands of Stuyvesant students.”

In the fall, Gruboy is on the cheer team, and she participates in Stuy Squad as well. In the spring, she is a part of the cast and chorus for SING!, and she participates in Parliamentary Debate throughout the year. She is also an intern at a law firm and a discussion council firm. “I wanted to be a Big Sib because I was in love with the program from the second I stepped into Camp Stuy Part One,” she said.

Gruboy has big plans for the upcoming school year, starting with improving communication between parts of the program. “I realized over time that there are some Big Sibs that you can’t really predict that they’re not going to be super committed, but then they [aren’t], and I wanted to improve that. A lot of the things that I want to implement, like having more training days and making it clear to both the Big and Little Sibs what their role is, are things that may have been unclear in the past, and I want to make it more clear,” she said.

The chairs are aiming for Big Sibs to be more responsible and accountable for their respective homerooms and Little Sibs. “Last year we had an issue with Big Sibs not showing up to their Little Sibs’ homerooms,” Weiner said. “It’s really important for your first year at Stuyvesant to have those people there to be a resource, and if they’re physically not present, it’s very hard to get that help.”

Lee continued, saying, “I think oversight is so important. Only recently did they start taking attendance, making sure that everyone was at homeroom, and making sure Big Sibs were talking to their Little Sibs [...] I am hoping to make the more intimate relationship between Big Sibs and Little Sibs closer because I think it is really important to have that connection with somebody who can help you.” In order to help establish bonds between Big Sibs and Little Sibs, the chairs are considering more events over the summer as well as an end-of-year picnic.

“The thing about our group is that we’re all moms in different ways,” Wu said. Though he said this in a joking manner, each chair does hope to see their underclassmen and Little Sibs transition smoothly into Stuyvesant. They want to advise incoming freshmen not to be afraid to take risks, and to know that they are supporting them the entire way. “There are so many people here that really want to make this experience great for you, so just talk to us, and we’re there for you,” Sun said.