“Every kid could use another point of view.”
“Middle school is tough,” Judy Moser says. “There’s peer pressure, difficulty trying to belong. I just try to give kids a sense that it’s okay to be your own person.”
Judy should know. Over the past decade, she’s been a mentor to six students in United Way’s Be a Middle School Mentor (BAMSM) program. First was Mary Grace, a shy sixth grader who’d moved to Pittsburgh from the Philippines. “She was navigating all that was going on in middle school,” Judy recalls, “And I remember her interest in nursing.” The two recently reconnected, seven years after their graduation from BAMSM. Judy smiles while sharing that Mary Grace is now a junior at Point Park University studying pre-med. “And she was so happy to hear I was still mentoring!”
Judy fondly recollects meeting Nia, a bubbly sixth grader showing her the school. “Entering the theatre, Nia exclaimed, ‘This is where the magic happens!’” Through BAMSM, Judy saw Nia transform from a young girl into a teenager, even working through Nia’s application to attend high school at Pittsburgh CAPA, where she’s now a senior applying to colleges. “We’re still in touch,” Judy adds. “She’s a lot taller, but still calls me Miss Judy.”
Now retired, Judy began mentoring when she worked at Alcoa. At the time, she frequently traveled internationally, which along with close proximity to the school and flexible schedule, were ideal. “The kids loved hearing about my travels; it was a foreign concept to some, so I was able to open up their world a bit.”
Asked why she keeps coming back, one of the longest-running mentors in BAMSM history, Judy is unwavering, “I won’t quit on these kids because lots of other people in their lives have quit on them.”
United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania is honored to celebrate 10 impactful years of our Be a Middle School Mentor program. You can make a difference for local kids by becoming a mentor today.