Megann Denefrio, raised as an only child, couldn't help wondering what having a little sister would be like. So when she arrived at Union College three years ago, she decided to become a “Big” to a “Little” named Stacey.
Since then, Denefrio and Stacey have done a lot together, spending up to five hours a week at things like apple picking, hockey games, movies, holiday parties and Stacey's favorite: joining Denefrio and her friends in the College dining halls. “She loves to eat with the big kids,” Denefrio says.
On Dec. 12, Denefrio, now a senior political science major, will be honored as Big Sister of the Year by Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Capital Region.
A native of Blauvelt, Rockland County, Denefrio is a 1999 graduate of Saddle River Day School where she was an All-State selection in the sport of tennis and was also her high school's “Most Valuable Player.” An accomplished player throughout her career at Union, , she has compiled an overall record of 43-15 singles record. Denefrio won 11 games this year (a feat she first accomplished as a freshman), just missing her career high of 12, which had in her sophomore season. She served as co-captain during the recently concluded 2002 campaign, helping the Dutchwomen to a college-record third place tie in the state championship tournament by finishing in the semi-final round of the No 4. singles bracket.. Union's previous best was seventh.
The Big Brothers Big Sisters Club is one of the largest student clubs on the Union College campus. Last year, with Denefrio as president, more than 100 Bigs – about 5 percent of the student body – were matched with Littles. She worked with Big Brothers Big Sisters staff to increase communication among the Bigs, and to increase the opportunities for promoting Big Brothers Big Sisters on campus. Denefrio serves this year as the club's treasurer.
“I had heard a lot about the Bigs program at Union before I arrived,” Denefrio said. “So a friend and I decided to give it a try.”
Denefrio, who will graduate in June with a degree in political science, plans to go to Washington next year to gain experience in a congressional office. She and Stacey have discussed their future, and they plan to stay in contact, Denefrio says.
The experience has been valuable to Stacey for showing her opportunities, and to Denefrio for developing an appreciation for the value of mentoring, she says.
“(The experience of being a Big) has shown me a lot about how education and involvement with kids are important,” Denefrio says. “It has also shown that we need to have more programs so that kids can know what is available to them and to see what their options are.”
Besides her involvement with Big Brothers Big Sisters, Denefrio has been active in the College's admissions office, serving as a senior intern; as a member of the U-Program board, which coordinates student activities; and as president of the Pi Sigma Alpha, the political science honor society. She is a resident of Wells House, a Union theme house whose residents commit to community service projects.
For more about Denefrio's award and Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Capital Region, visit: http://www.bbbscr.org/newArticles.asp#BBBSYear