National Police Week Spotlight: Big in Blue Mentor, Michael Andrade
In honor of National Police Week, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay is highlighting Big in Blue mentor, Michael Andrade. Michael is a resident of Hyde Park, a two year Boston Police Officer, and a three year Big Brother to his Little, Luis.
How long have you been a police officer for?
I have been a Boston Police Officer for almost 2 years.
What prompted you to want to volunteer and become a Big?
Mentoring has always been a huge part of my development; everyone from my father to my youngest cousin and friends have played a role in helping me become who I am today. I also recognize that some young men may not have a mentor or someone to help them figure out the complex things in life like how do I figure out what I want to be when I grow up…or the little things like: PS4 or XBox? At the end of the day, I just wanted to give back to the city I grew up in, in a long-term and meaningful way.
Do you think being in law enforcement has impacted your mentoring style or your relationship with your Little?
I don’t believe that being a cop has impacted my mentoring style. I do think that my work schedule impacts my availability to see him. My prior career in Higher Education &Student Affairs did not impact my weekends, which is when Luis and I tend to meet. I now have less weekends which means that I have limited availability. Despite that challenge, continuing in the program solidifies its importance in my life.
How do you hope to impact your Little’s life?
I hope to impact my Little’s life by simply being present when I can be and a reliable resource when he needs it. I’m excited to see what kind of person my Little grows up to be and I want to be there for him when he is filling out his first college application or buying his first car.
What has been the most meaningful part of being a Big? Do you have a favorite memory?
We have very deep conversations on our rides to and from our outings. I think the meaningful parts are when he begins to echo the lessons or advice that I give him, but putting his own spin on it. Self-authorship right in front of my eyes is so cool to see.
Would you encourage other police officers to get involved? Do you have any advice for those thinking about getting involved?
Of course I do! I would shout that to anyone who would listen. I think it’s especially cool to work and mentor in the same city. One of the coolest moments was when I saw my Little and his family walking home from the Rec Center and they got to see me in my uniform. They all shouted my name and I hopped out of the car and gave them high-fives. It was a cool moment for me for sure. I also think it brings you closer to the community in some ways because you see what it’s like from your Little’s perspective. I know I have forgotten what it is like being a young man in Boston. The best advice I can give is to be yourself and open to the experience.
Do you have a mentor? Or have you had a significant mentor in your life? What kind of impact did they have?
I have benefited greatly from the guidance of parents and family members. It truly takes a village, everyone from my high school friends, fraternity brothers, and people I have met along the way. They have all mentored me in some way. Sometimes, my Little mentors me..especially in video games since I’m becoming bad at them. But, being a mentee isn’t dependent on being younger than your mentor, you just have to be open to the lesson they may impart on you. My mentors have helped me figure out career goals, attend my graduations, get ready for prom, or help me through the challenges of life; I hope to be there for those moments for my Little. I always tell my Little that all of your best qualities are the sum of the best characteristics of people that have made a positive impact on your life. So in a way, I represent my family and those that came before them. I’m a legacy of them- I tell Luis that all the time.
The Bigs in Blue Program is open to all officers from police departments across eastern Massachusetts, Cape Cod and the Islands. Each participating officer commits to spending four to eight hours per month with their Little. For more information about the Bigs in Blue program or to get involved, please visit www.bbbsmb.org/bigs-in-blue.