University of Minnesota
U sophomore Mackenzie Haws and Goldy Gopher share a hug with Haws's "little sister," Iliana, at a special holiday event at the Metrodome.
Home page image: Patrick O'Leary
Big Sister, big rewards
U student Mackenzie Haws receives an unexpected reward
By Rick Moore
As a high school student in Libertyville, Illinois, Mackenzie Haws volunteered her time without much thought. Opportunities were easy to come by, and sometimes clubs she belonged to required volunteering.
Now, as a time-crunched sophomore at the University of Minnesota, Haws is volunteering with a purpose. She had heard about the Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) program while still in high school, and figured that its mission would mesh well with her love of kids and passion for education.
More than a year after she became a BBBS mentor to her little sister Iliana, her personal rewards are obvious. She beams a wide smile when talking about her weekly meet-ups with Iliana, and she slips in a pitch for the organization at every opportunity.
And now Haws has received an unexpected reward. She was recently named the winner of a Big Ten Network LiveBIG Scholarship for Outstanding Service. The award celebrates students and alumni who exemplify what it means to “live big” via their community service, and one winner was chosen (by popular vote) for each of the 12 Big Ten universities from among five finalists.
In addition to her scholarship, Haws is slated to be honored at halftime of the Gopher men’s basketball home finale against Nebraska on Saturday, March 3.
“I was kind of surprised, to be honest,” Haws says, pointing out that she has a lot of friends who also volunteer for BBBS and she doesn’t think her experience is unique. “There are a lot of people on this campus who do a lot more than I do and participate in a lot of different organizations. But obviously I was very excited, [and] my coordinator was also really excited about it.
“And my ‘little’ now is very excited about it—to come to the game on Saturday with me.”
A little boost for big sister, too
Haws has two older and two younger siblings, and obviously cherishes being both a big and a little sister. Bringing Iliana into her life is another welcome addition.
“It’s uplifting,” Haws says. “The selfish reason why I love it is that it really is a confidence booster for me, and it brightens my day to go and see her. And my friends say the exact same thing—their ‘littles’ get so excited to see them.”
She knows Iliana is also enthused about their relationship, and she feels they’ve gotten even closer since Haws penned her LiveBIG scholarship essay.
Haws also has a new appreciation for the importance of making young students aware of the opportunities open to them later in life. Whereas at her high school near Chicago most students were busy prepping to go to college, many other students aren’t on that track.
“We have a great platform because students in the city know who Goldy is,” Haws says. “As college students, especially, I think it’s really important to reach out to students and show them our experience, and how they can have that same experience.”
Read Haws’s complete essay for the LiveBIG scholarship.
Read descriptions of all of the finalists from the University of Minnesota.