Kaylen Burgess, Executive Director at Big Brother Big Sisters Sarnia-Lambton, Photo Provided by Lambton College

Keeping it in the Community: Kaylen Burgess

Lambton College’s mission is to help provide students with the education and experience necessary to help them thrive in the future workforce. It directly benefits Sarnia-Lambton with workforce sustainability for the present and into the future. But, Lambton strives to make a deeper impact than contributing to its students’ successes during their professional lives. This can be seen through its consistent and constant support to Sarnia-Lambton’s chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters. 

Lambton College provides students with key placement opportunities at Big Brothers Big Sisters for students enrolled in the Office Administration, Child and Youth Care, and Social Service Worker programs. Some programs at Big Brothers Big Sisters exist because of the personnel and resources Lambton provides. It gives students the opportunity to support and grow with the communities they call home. Ultimately, a lot of these students stay in the Sarnia-Lambton area to take jobs in line with their education, focusing on helping others. Some even go on to work at Big Brothers Big Sisters to continue doing amazing things. Kaylen Burgess, Executive Director of Big Brothers Big Sisters in Sarnia-Lambton, is a prime example. 

“I’ve been with the agency since 2009, and as a leader now, I look back and a lot of the skills that I learned at Lambton have brought me to where I am today. Learned to be an active listener, to foster change, at Lambton they taught me a lot about resiliency, and self-advocacy,” said Burgess. 

Kaylen is a graduate of Lambton’s child and youth care program, and used the skills and experiences she gained in the program as a base in her career path, to then push forward and accomplish amazing things in the community. She started as a case worker at the agency before growing into a leadership role, now overseeing her team of staff, as well as the students placed at Big Brothers Big Sisters. 

This semester, our agency has welcomed 18 different Lambton College students in the social service program, in the child and youth care program, and we are working with them to give them hands-on experience to provide them with learning opportunities to ensure their success here in the field.”

There is an absolute mutual benefit for the program, in which the students gain crucial skills in their chosen field, while Big Brothers Big Sisters can expand the programs they offer to the community. The partnership has been dependable for years, with a major milestone soon to come. 

“We’ve had a longstanding relationship with Lambton College. Actually, in 2026 we are celebrating 40 years of partnership. Back in 2015, they were awarded a national award from our agency,” Burgess said.

This partnership has helped foster the relationship between the students and Sarnia-Lambton. Through their studies and hands-on work experience with Big Brothers Big Sisters, students have grown to appreciate the area and develop a passion for helping the Sarnia-Lambton community. In a lot of cases, students stay in the area well beyond their studies, making it their home as they start their professional lives. 

“As a team, we have six staff at Big Brothers Big Sisters and all of them are actually Lambton College graduates,” said Burgess. “It shows that they want to stay in the community and work where they learned, and they develop those relationships. They can stay long-term, which is really important in the field of studies that we do.”

The success of the Sarnia Lambton community is deeply important to Lambton College, as it’s the area where a large number of its students live upon graduation. They contribute to this by developing and maintaining partnerships like the one with Big Brothers Big Sisters, as well as helping to develop the community leaders of tomorrow, just like Kaylen Burgess. 

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