UT Master’s Student Encourages Little Brother to Pursue Higher Education

Jorge Roman with his little brother, Josh.

KNOXVILLE — Wanting to change the world is a big task, but with the right support, the goal can be attainable. Jorge Roman had this idea instilled in him at the start of his college career and continues to encourage others to change the world.

Roman, a University of Tennessee, Knoxville, sports psychology master’s student, is a proud big brother in the Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of East Tennessee program. He visits his little brother, Josh, a fourth-grader at South Knoxville Elementary School, as often as he can despite his own school obligations. They have been matched since September 2009.

“There’s always time for everything,” Roman said. “You can always take time out of your day to be with someone you care about. There’s no juggling. I enjoy my time with him and it’s not a duty. It’s a privilege.”

During Josh’s school hours, Roman helps with his schoolwork, plays on the playground and talks about anything Josh wants.

“I am able to build a friendship with him through that social interaction,” Roman said. “It’s very rewarding. They think he gets a lot out of it, but I do too. He’s my little brother, maybe not through blood, but I feel it.”

Rebecca Griffin, BBBS enrollment and match specialist for East Tennessee, recognizes Roman’s dedication to Josh.

“Jorge goes above the commitment of one hour a week with Josh,” Griffin said. “Jorge helps Josh improve his grades in reading, math and other subjects, and they also love to play sports together. Jorge is a great big brother.”

Roman’s main goal in meeting with Josh is to use his real life experiences to show Josh that education is the way to a bright future.

“As a kid you have so many dreams, and I believe anybody can do anything,” Roman said. “Knowledge is very important to make a positive change in the world. You need that basic foundation to do great things. Education and going to college help to find those skills and resources. I try to make Josh understand that.”

Roman said he tries to tell Josh that the schoolwork, like reading and math, is an important part of a successful foundation in life.

“I tell him it doesn’t make sense now, but in the end, it all comes together,” Roman said. “I try to make sure he knows I’m here to help him with that end result. I’m here to help him piece it together.”

As the first in his family to go to college, Roman has had quite a bit of success.

He started his own business in 2001 when he was 20 years old. His store, Kickz N Lidz, is an urban store that sells hats and shoes and is located in St. Petersburg, Fla. He even began hosting seminars for high school students on how to succeed.

In 2009, with the business still successful, Roman gave full control to his business partner and decided to move to Knoxville to get his master’s in sport psychology and eventually pursue his dream to get a doctorate.

“Opening a business was my dream,” Roman said. “I accomplished that. Now I’m pursuing another dream, but it all starts with education.”

Roman had a very dear friend that encouraged and motivated him at the start of his college career.

“My friend instilled in me who I am today,” Roman said. “These kids don’t have many positive influences in their lives. I want to be that for Josh. I want to use my real-world experiences to show Josh he can do anything and that he has someone who believes in him.”

For more information about the BBBS program, visit http://www.bigbrothersbigsistersetn.org/ or contact Vivian Gwinn at (865) 523-2179 or vgwinn@bbbsetn.org.

C O N T A C T :

Bridget Hardy (865-974-2225, bhardy4@utk.edu)

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