Kent State Nursing Student Named ‘Big Sister of the Year’
Kent State University College of Nursing student Ashlee Frymier has been selected as Big Sister of the Year by Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Summit, Medina and Stark Counties.
The award is particularly exceptional because Frymier has only volunteered with the organization for a year. Having such a new volunteer win the award is unusual, said Kyle Putinski, executive director of the organization that pairs at-risk youth with volunteers who spend time with them as friends and mentors.
Frymier, of Cuyahoga Falls, graduated with her nursing degree from Kent State in 2009, and for the past 13 years has worked for Cleveland Clinic Akron General, where she currently is a nurse in the emergency department.
What made Frymier stand out among their many volunteers was her commitment to her little sister, even though they have only been matched for about a year, he said.
“My staff chose Ashlee hands down because of her commitment, her level of dedication and her going above and beyond,” Putinski said, “We have a lot of individuals to choose from, but she really stood out. She has an extremely busy schedule. She is an ER nurse, and she is going to school to become a nurse practitioner, yet she always makes time to spend with her little and for her little’s family.”
Frymier said she was honored to be selected for the award. She enjoys volunteering and works with several organizations in the Akron area. She joined Big Brothers and Big Sisters because she was looking for a way to have a positive impact on the lives of young people.
“I love children,” she said.
Frymier and her little sis, who is 10, meet twice a month. She tries to get to all the games where her little sis is cheering as a cheerleader and tries to provide her with experiences that she may not be able to have otherwise.
They have attended sporting events, theater at Playhouse Square in Cleveland and ice shows, and often go out to eat to try new foods. “We always have a great time, and she always loves the experiences,” Frymier said.
Their visits always begin with a trip through the Starbucks drive-through for a drink, and then they talk about family, school and any challenges she may be facing.
“It’s a nice give and take,” Frymier said.
The program, she said, has taught her a lot about herself and she has learned from her little sis, too.
“My little has taught me so much, to slow down and embrace the things that we do, how important simply listening to someone is,” she said. “It has really made me appreciate it a lot and I am very thankful to have her.”
Frymier enjoys being a mentor and noted that many of her own mentors are from Kent State.
She had always intended to return to Kent State for an advanced nursing degree but had been enjoying spending time traveling and getting her career off the ground. When the pandemic halted a lot of activities and travel, Frymier said she felt the timing was right to start the nurse practitioner program.
“I really love the program I am in. The coordinator, Kristine Jacobson, is just excellent. I hope one day I can be as good as she is,” Frymier said.
The award was no surprise to Jacobson and the College of Nursing staff who work with Frymier regularly and see the level of commitment she puts forth in all her endeavors.
“Ashlee is incredible,” said Jacobson, associate lecturer and concentration coordinator in Kent State’s nurse practitioner program, “She is full of drive and intelligence. She thrives in her coursework and is a leader in the emergency department, where she has worked for years.”
Jacobson said Frymier is selfless in her community work. “She has a passion to help patients and their families navigate complex healthcare situations, which is why she is working to become a nurse practitioner. We are lucky to have her at Kent State.”
“We plan to attend the award ceremony to celebrate this big moment with Ashlee,” said Versie Johnson-Mallard, Ph.D., dean, professor and Henderson Memorial Endowed Chair of Kent State’s College of Nursing.
The Big Sister of the Year Award will be presented, along with the award for Big Brother of the Year, at the organization’s annual fundraiser, Grapes for Kids’ Sake, a beer and wine tasting event, which this year also will celebrate the organization’s 50th anniversary. The event is 6 p.m. Nov. 4 at the Quaker Square Grand Ballroom at Quaker Station at the University of Akron, 135 S. Broadway, Akron. Tickets are available here.
Frymier said the program has helped her as much as it has helped her little sister, and she encouraged others to get involved. “You provide a positive, supportive mentoring relationship with youth who need it most,” she said.
Putinski said the organization is always looking for more volunteers; anyone interested in becoming a Big Brother or Big Sister can find more information here.
“You do for one kid, what you wish you could do for every kid,” he said.