I needed something to do with my life to reconnect with young people.

Lisa Babin '78

Lisa Babin '78 felt lost. Forced into an early retirement after a freak accident left her with debilitating migraines and chronic back and neck pain, Babin wrestled with the abrupt halt to a 35-year career dedicated to educating school-age children.

But as a volunteer and sponsor for Generation Hope, a Washington, D.C.-area nonprofit mentorship program for teen parents pursuing a college education, Babin discovered a new purpose.

As a sponsor, Babin provides mentoring, guidance and financial support for her assigned scholar, Ana Villanueva, who was a teenage single mother of two when she and Babin first connected in 2014. Ana is now married and a dean's list student majoring in elementary education at Montgomery College. Recognizing the role she has played in Ana's successes, Generation Hope recently honored Babin with its Sponsor of the Year award.

"Next to giving birth to my daughter, that was absolutely the most proud moment of my life," Babin says. "I've been so invested in young people. I needed something to do with my life to reconnect with young people."

Babin's new role carries on a passion dating back to the mid-1970s, when she abandoned the idea of majoring in biology at Bucknell in favor of elementary education. She spent the bulk of her career as an elementary school teacher before serving as assistant principal for Prince George's County Public Schools. But her tenure was cut short in 2011, when she slipped coming out of the teachers' lounge and hit her head on the marble threshold. After a lengthy medical absence, she returned to the school for 16 months, but stepped away for good in 2014 due to her injuries. Within a few months, she had discovered Generation Hope and was matched with Ana, whom she now considers a second daughter.

"I'm just so proud of her," Babin said. "She is an inspiration to me."