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Each week, when he could be studying, earning money, or hanging out with friends, Rasheim Donaldson ’06 (New York, N.Y.) instead spends several hours mentoring Khainell, a 12-year-old Easton boy.

Khainell is his “Little Brother” through the Lehigh Valley chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters, which pairs young adults with children who lack family members able to be involved in their lives.

Last month, Donaldson was recognized for his service with the program’s Christopher Scott Seifert Memorial Award. The award, named for a U.S. soldier killed in the Iraq war who had been a Big Brother, recognizes college students who perform outstanding service in the program.

“Rasheim Donaldson exemplifies the qualities most desired in a Big Brother — genuine concern for his Little Brother and dedication to weekly visits,” says Scott Garner, director of fund and partnerships development, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Lehigh Valley.

For Khainell, the relationship has already paid off.

The seventh-grader, who lives with a single female guardian, had been expelled from Easton schools for fighting and other behavioral issues. Since then, he has attended a state-sponsored educational program in Bethlehem.

“He was initially described to me as a problem child, but I don’t see that,” says Donaldson. “I think it’s mostly a lack of supervision.”

Khainell’s guardian, who calls Donaldson a “godsend,”? has seen behavioral improvement as a result of the time he spends with his Big Brother.

“Khai lights up when he hears Rasheim is coming over,” she says. Donaldson also helps his Little Brother with his homework, and Khainell is doing better in algebra and science and working better with other people.

Donaldson, who majors in anthropology and sociology with a minor in East Asian studies, plans to become a lawyer aiming, possibly, at a career in public policy. He sees his job as a Big Brother as exposing Khainell to life possibilities that he had not previously considered. After a recent trip to Kenya and Tanzania for a Lafayette interim session course, Donaldson also shared his experiences and more than 100 photographs.

“I tell Khai the trip to Africa was just an example of the many benefits and opportunities available in higher education.” he explains. That said, Donaldson and Khainell also spend plenty of time at Lafayette’s Kirby Sports Center, going to movies, and playing video games.

“I’ve got a brother going to college next year and a sister who just graduated,” he says. “So, I think it’s valuable that Khainell just has the opportunity to go on a college campus and think about it as something he might do.”

Donaldson became involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters through Lafayette’s Landis Community Outreach Center, which steers students to volunteer programs that prevent teen pregnancy, help battered women, and undertake other community service efforts.

“I’m not the sort to join a fraternity or spend time in bars,”? he says, “and I feel a sense of personal obligation to help when I see so many minority children without parents.”

Donaldson is president of Association of Black Collegians, a resident adviser, and a mentor to two middle school students at Shawnee Success Academy. He volunteers at Third Street Alliance preparing meals and has helped local residents prepare their income taxes. In addition, Donaldson is a student ambassador for Lafayette’s Annual Fund and served as a chaplain’s assistant and an America Reads tutor.

His family lives in the Manhattan neighborhood of Washington Heights.

Categorized in: Students