ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT: '87 Grad Unites the "Bigs" With the "Littles"
How much would you give up to make a difference in the lives of children? Linda Robinson, MRH Class of '87, traded nearly everything she worked and studied for, in order to join Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri.
Robinson was born in Okinawa, Japan, the daughter of a serviceman who also served in South Korea. Her father was originally from Troy, MO., so the family moved back to the Show Me State and she settled into the Maplewood Richmond Heights School District. Robinson had the grades to attend a four-year college, but not the money to pay for it. She enrolled in classes at St. Louis Community College.
Robinson quickly became interested in the world of financial services because money management and investing were ways to help families get on firm footing. She worked for some of the biggest names in the business: AG Edwards & Sons, Wachovia and Wells-Fargo (which bought out Wachovia). She developed a diverse body of contacts throughout the St. Louis area in the public and private sectors. But she was especially drawn to those who worked for non-profits. Robinson realized that what she loved about her job was leading and developing people, not the corporate culture and the trading floor.
Eight weeks ago, Robinson accepted a job as the chief recruitment officer for the St. Louis-based Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri. Her task: recruit adults who want to be matched with kids who need an extra dose of friendship in their lives. The adults, called "Bigs," spend a few hours a month with the "Littles" going to carnivals, a movie, a picnic, the playground or just hanging around the house and enjoying one another's company. Robinson organizes and promotes community events which give potential Bigs an opportunity to see how the matching process works. In this capacity, she occasionally taps into her broad base of contacts. For instance, BBBSEMO is having an event in conjunction with the St. Louis Surge women's basketball team, which employs a longtime acquaintence of Robinson.
What does Linda Robinson recall about her time at MRH? She says while the community as a whole was still struggling with issues of racial discord, the school district itself was a diverse patchwork of friends who got along very well. In the 1987 yearbook, Robinson's photo appears next to a caption which she selected, a line from a song by Janet Jackson: "I'm in control, never gonna stop. Control to get what I want. Control, I've got to have a lot."
Robinson's 11 year old granddaughter attends MRH Elementary today, where Robinson says she has been warmly embraced.
While Linda Robinson is still paying the bills associated with two masters degrees, she does not miss corporate America. And, yes, she says there is a "Little" in her near future.
For more information, contact MRH School District at (314) 644-4400.