Big Buddy on Campus

Most people don’t know that FAU senior Aimee Clough is a VIP.

On a warm fall morning, Clough rides her silver bicycle from the Boca campus bookstore where she works, to the University Center to meet her driver.

“It’s OK,” Clough tells the driver, who arrives late. “The meeting isn’t until 10:30.”

When the driver reaches the West Boca destination, a uniformed man stops the car, his dark sunglasses reflecting the bright Florida sun. “Where are you going?”

“We’re going to JARC,” Clough says.

Clough reacts to the crowd that lingers outside JARC-Jewish Association for Residential Care. “Shield me,” she begs her driver, jokingly, “because if I walk over there right now, it’s going to be another 10 minutes before I get to my meeting.”

Clough is an important matchmaker. As an agent of a priceless commodity, Clough matches student volunteers who are looking for a life-enhancing opportunity with intellectually disadvantaged adults who are looking for friends.

On this day, Clough meets with Julia Jinishian, College Buddy Director at Lynn University, and Lisa Reingold, Activities Coordinator at JARC.

To attend the meeting, Clough must get past the crowd. “Aimee, how are you?” asks the first woman who spots her. Clough responds and the woman opens her arms, smiling wide to reveal a mouth full of crooked teeth. “I’ve missed you,” she tells Clough.

Once inside, Clough joins Jinishian and Reingold in the elevator to the Morris Lipson Library where they deliberate over events for the academic calendar.

“I’ve never seen someone so busy,” Reingold says of Clough, “going from one job to the next.” The three women sit in the library for close to an hour, going over details to coordinate buddies and arrange events.

“[Clough] is a very dedicated young woman who knows what she wants and desperately wants success from what she is doing,” Reingold says. “She possesses a beautiful heart.”

As president of FAU’s Best Buddies Club, Clough is the Boca campus College Buddy Director for Best Buddies International. According to Best Buddies College Director’s handbook, the organization began in 1989 as a project of Anthony K. Shriver when he was a student at Georgetown University in Washington DC.

Clough re-established FAU’s Best Buddies chapter in 2003 after the completion of her freshman year. “It had been inactive for about four years,” she says. “It was really hard to get things coordinated.” She attributes knowledge gained as a former high school Best Buddies officer and as FAU’s former University Wide Council secretary of Student Government as keys to reviving the club.

Barbara Bazinsky, coordinator for FAU’s Office for Students with Disabilities, has supported the club’s success for more than a year and a half as an adviser to Best Buddies. She is proud of Clough’s dedication. “She has chosen to immerse herself in helping others with disabilities,” says Bazinsky. “This is very, very important to her.”

Eleven credits from graduation, Clough will secure a degree in Exceptional Student Education. She defines her academic goal as a special teaching degree for students at either end of the spectrum. “Exceptional refers to both gifted and special needs kids,” Clough explains.

It is her desire to move back to Minnesota where she was born and teach at the junior high school she attended. She dreams of residing in her grandmother’s house, where she was raised. That is, unless, she fulfills a greater dream. “I would love to be a lobbyist for people with disabilities,” she says.

For more information about FAU’s Best Buddies contact Aimee Clough by phone at (954) 803-1346 or e-mail her at [email protected]