Beth Anne Rankin & Keshia Tilmon
Beth Anne Rankin, a current Big Sister in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, received a very special phone call this spring from her former Little Sister, Keshia Tillmon, who now lives in Dallas. Keshia called to tell her that she achieved the two goals that she and Beth Anne set back in 1999. The two goals consisted of Keshia graduating from high school with honors, plus the ability to break the pattern of early pregnancy that was part of her family history.
Beth Anne and Keshia were matched in 1997, when Keshia was 13 years old. Keshia heard someone at school talking about having a Big Sister, so she told her mother she also wanted a Big Sister. Beth Anne became involved in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program after learning about it while serving as Miss Arkansas in 1994. “Youth mentoring was my platform and I knew the Big Brothers Big Sisters program was phenomenal.”
After Beth Anne’s year as Miss Arkansas, she went to work for Mike Huckabee. “In 1996, I permanently moved to Little Rock and decided it was time to become a Big Sister.” Beth Anne is currently the director of state and federal affairs for the state of Arkansas.
According to Beth Anne, the match with Keshia was perfect because she was open to lots of various activities. Keshia was introduced to several dignitaries of state, and Beth Anne also included her in some of the governor’s activities. One of Keshia’s most memorable moments was attending the Miss Arkansas pageant in Hot Springs. “It was really fun,” she said. Another one of Keshia’s favorite memories involves ice-skating. “There is a big story behind this,” Keisha said. “Beth Anne said, ‘Let’s go skating’, and I thought she meant roller-skating. Neither one of us knew how to ice skate. We fell a million times and were freezing, plus we were sore for a week.” Sometimes, it’s the simple things that create our warmest memories.
Beth Anne also has vivid memories. She laughed as she recalled, “I might as well admit, I paid Keshia to get good grades. She was already an ‘A’ student, but I wanted to make sure she kept it up. For every ‘A’ on her report card she received money, but she could only spend one-half of it; the other half went toward her college fund.” Beth Anne said, “It was not a big sum of money, but I wanted her to have a mental picture of going to college.”
In 1999, Keshia’s family moved to Dallas and the match closed. When asked how her Big Sister influenced her life, Keshia said, “Beth Anne always achieved what she set out to do, which showed me how you can be successful in anything you do, if you just make up your mind to do it. I think what made us so close is that Beth Anne volunteered from her heart…after college, I want to become a Big Sister, too.”