Meet the 2022-2023 Big Sib Chairs!

The 2021-2022 Big Sib Chairs announced the 2022-2023 Big Sib Chairs.

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Juniors Sabiha Amin, Elicia Chau, Suki Ferguson, Efe Kilic, and Ava Rem were selected as the 2022-2023 Big Sib Chairs by seniors and outgoing Big Sib Chairs Samuel Espinal Jr., Daniela Maksin, Alec Shafran, Aaron Wang, and Syeda Zahan. Both the incoming and outgoing BSCs reflect upon the program’s goals and discuss future plans, including bringing back the Stuyvesant Open House and starting book drives.

The chosen incoming chairs represent the first full POC (People of Color) Big Sib Chair board, consisting of Taiwanese, Turkish, Colombian, Bengali, and Afro-Caribbean members. “Being the first full POC Big Sib board is pretty revolutionary because there has been a lot of conversation around the lack of diversity within the Big Sib chairs,” Ferguson said.

Similar to previous years, the application process to become a BSC was intensive and involved many steps. “Becoming a Big Sib Chair is a big feat: it involves a written application, a recommendation from a teacher, their homeroom leader, two Little Sibs, and a thorough interview with the chairs,” Wang said.

Shafran emphasized that during the selection process, the outgoing Big Sib Chairs sought people who were authentic and adaptable. “Each Little Sib, homeroom leader, parent, administrator is different, so the Big Sib Chairs have to be able to adapt to all those different interactions. The common throughline that ties the [Big Sib Chairs] together is that they are able to bring their authentic selves to the program,” Shafran said.

In addition to preserving the Big Sib program, the outgoing chairs also looked for leaders who were prepared to bring changes and improvements to the program. “Not only was it important for me to see that each prospective Chair had leadership skills, but it was imperative that they were also collaborative, willing to communicate with each other, and recognize aspects of the program that could be improved upon,” Zahan said.

All the incoming Big Sib Chairs have already established a friendly dynamic with one another, facilitating their transition into working together. “Generally, I think we have the opportunity to become really close friends. We agree on a lot of ideas cohesively, so that makes it a lot easier to work together as a group,” Chau said.

Chau is a member of StuyFlow, a writer for The Spectator Opinions Department, and was a shadow director, a director primarily responsible for choreography, for Junior SING!. Outside of school, she is a horseback rider, part-time medical assistant at a neurology clinic, and an English tutor.

Hosting events for Little Sibs and making sure they feel welcomed was Chau’s motivation for applying to be a Big Sib Chair. “Personally I really enjoy hosting events for the Little Sibs. I love connecting with them on a personal level, and that’s a really important part of being a Big Sib Chair,” she said.

Amin is the circulation director for the Indicator, a treasurer for Stuyvesant’s Muslim Student Association, a member of Speech and Debate, and a member of Thunder Science Publication. With a passion for science and researching, Amin also works as a researcher at a cancer lab.

On her first day at Camp Stuy, Amin had a personal conversation with Victoria Wong (’20), who was Amin’s Big Sib, that left an impression on her. Amin shared that Wong was able to sense her nervousness and immediately comforted her. Being inspired by her Big Sib, Amin wanted to help incoming freshmen adjust to high school more easily so that they could have a better experience. “Moments like that really show that there are Big Sibs who truly mean to help with your experience. That small three-minute conversation was one of the best moments,” Amin said.

Ferguson is an active member and artistic director of Stuy Legacy, the Vice President of the Black Student League, and the President-in-Training for Stuy Squad. She is also one of Stuyvesant’s student ambassadors for a diversity, equity, and inclusivity initiative that meets to discuss criticality, different cultures, and more.

As one of the seven Black students admitted to Stuyvesant in 2019, Ferguson felt her freshman year to be isolating at first, but quickly connected with Claire Shin (’21), one of her Big Sibs. As a result, Ferguson wanted to become the same type of person for other Little Sibs. “That connection that I had made me realize that I should be like this—that I should do the same thing,” Ferguson said. “It’s comforting to see that you’re able to help somebody. You’re able to see them grow and build a connection with them.”

Kilic is part of Stuyvesant’s Debate team, the football team, and The Spectator Sports Department. He is also interested in business and is an ambassador for the Junior Economics Community of New York City, a student-run organization aiming to expose high school students to the field of business.

Being the only student from his middle school to gain admission to Stuyvesant, Kilic was able to find comfort in his Big Sibs, whom he could rely on and talk to. “It was kind of lonely for me because there weren’t any familiar faces, so just having someone there for me really helped me transition into the Stuyvesant environment,” he said.

Rem is the Vice President of the Stuyvesant Book Club, the treasurer of Stuyvesant Girl Up, and a member of the Junior Caucus Events Department. With a passion for literature and writing, she is also the virtual learning program director for Secondhand Literature, an organization that donates books to schools around New York City. This role has also allowed her to interact with students who have different personalities from all grade levels.

Prior to the pandemic, Big Sibs would check in individually with their Little Sibs once a semester to make sure they were doing well and to see if they needed anything. For Rem, this experience inspired her to form close connections with her Little Sibs. “That one hour [my Big Sib and I] spent together just talking was really sweet and comforting, so I wanted to give back to the Stuy community and do the same for my Little Sibs and form the same bonds as I did when I was a freshman,” she said.

While the incoming chairs have only just been chosen, they have already identified some issues they notice with the current Big Sib program. Many noted that “senior apathy” was a big problem, where some seniors were not putting full enthusiasm into the program, causing Junior Big Sibs to lack the guidance they needed. “I feel like [some seniors] weren’t as enthusiastic as us juniors, even if we were confused all the time. We looked to them for guidance [but] I think we didn’t have that authority figure or mentor to help us,” Rem said.

As a response to this trend, Rem emphasized the importance of communication between all members of the Stuyvesant community and ensuring that Big Sibs are promoting student interactions in class. “We will really focus on working on all levels and talking to all staff and faculty, teachers, and students to make sure that they’re all talking together and working together to create this program and make it as good as it can possibly be,” Rem said.

Additionally, the chairs introduced new initiatives they are considering to implement. Chau suggested using the Big Sib Instagram more as a means of communicating with underclassmen. The chairs hope to use Instagram’s question feature and direct message to easily answer questions from freshmen. “Instagram has really opened a space for all the ‘littles’ to talk to us without that intimidating feeling about e-mailing. Having a Big Sib Instagram is a great way for any of us to communicate immediately and get questions in,” Chau said.

Another initiative the chairs are planning to implement is a book drive, which could stimulate students to find common interests and create some conversation for underclassmen. “All the Little Sibs would bring in a book and the idea behind this would be to encourage communication and conversations between all the people outside of your homeroom,” Kilic said. “Maybe if you see someone with a book you really enjoy you can walk up and talk about it [with them].”

The incoming chairs also hope to bring back the Stuyvesant Open House, which has been suspended for the past two years due to COVID-19. The event is typically held in the fall semester for accepted students and parents to learn more about Stuyvesant. In previous Open House events, Big Sibs led tours around the schools and answered questions from students and their families. “It is important for not only students but also for parents to understand what Stuyvesant is truly like. The Open House also allows the Big Sibs to gain experience before Camp Stuy and the upcoming school year,” Amin said.

As the new chairs begin their roles as the new leaders of the Big Sib program, the senior chairs have continued to provide support throughout the process. “There is a grace period before we ‘release’ them on their own,” Espinal said. “We’re collaborating with them for the SAT day homeroom so they can see what it’s like to coordinate larger events and we pair up with them during Big Sib interviews so we can collaborate on what it takes to choose a Big Sib.”

Overall, the previous chairs have confidence that the new Big Sib Chairs will help to improve the program. “There’s just so much potential for the Big Sib Program and I’m really excited for what [the Big Sib Chair board] ’23 has in store for the future underclassmen of Stuyvesant,” Wang said.