...it has motivated him to do even better in school

Rusty has been a Big Brother to 13-year-old J.D. since August 2010. Rusty specifically requested to match with a Little Brother who lives in North Omaha, where he grew up. He and his two younger brothers were raised by a single dad, who Rusty calls a powerful influence in his life.

But he had many friends who weren't so lucky. “I had a lot of friends who didn't have that sort of guidance in their life, and I saw them go down some bad paths,” recalls Rusty. “It’s hard seeing your friends make bad choices.”

Rusty saw the early stages of that negative behavior in Little Brother J.D. when they first met. But by 2012, J.D. was maturing into a young man with character. Both he and Rusty were featured on a local television station as the Match of the Month that summer. During the interview, J.D. talked about his burgeoning passion for architecture and, it just so happened, that a professor from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln happened to be watching. A day later J.D. was honored with a scholarship to attend a summer architecture camp for one week on the UNL campus. J.D. was overwhelmed with emotion and happiness, and it motivated him to work even harder in school.

J.D. completed his architecture camp experience in June 2012. He stayed in Abel Hall on campus with over 35 other students from across the state. As an incoming high school freshman, J.D. was one of the youngest students at the camp. Upon arrival he was terrified and didn't want Rusty to leave him. By the end of the week, however, he had experienced the time of his life and didn’t want to depart. During the week, students toured various campus locations, an active construction site and an architectural design firm in Lincoln. Their big project – which took a lot of time and effort – was a 3-D design to improve a campus park.

As a week long academic camp, attention span and focus were required for success. Rusty was initially concerned about J.D.’s ability to handle the environment, but at the close of camp all signs from his instructors were A+!