FASTER, STRONGER, SMARTER

LUIS'S STORY

Twenty-year-old Luis Nunez from New Haven is a thriving college junior, double majoring in business management and marketing at the University of Bridgeport. Luis says there was a time that success seemed out of reach.

“If you would have asked me five years ago when I was 15-16 years old if I’d be where I’m at today, I would not believe you,” said Luis.

As a teen, Luis says he lacked direction and he wasn’t sure of himself. That began to change when he signed up for a lifeguard training program supported by United Way.

At United Way, we believe in helping youth realize their potential through quality out of school time programs like this one at Centro San Jose. Students can choose from a lifeguarding or basketball focus, but both tracks are designed to help at-risk Fair Haven youth. The program serves about 100 youth every year.

“Immediately I hopped on board, me and five other friends from New Haven.”

In the lifeguarding course, instructors teach the students swimming and rescue techniques, including CPR and first aid. While that instruction is potentially life saving, the teens also learn about perseverance and how to build resilience. The students develop skills that help them cope, recover from hardships, and be prepared for future challenges.

“The instructors pushed us to make sure that we succeeded, they wanted it as much as we wanted it.”

Luis got certified as a lifeguard, and he quickly landed a summer job as a city lifeguard. The life-lessons about rising up to challenges helped Luis prepare for college, and choose a career path.

“This had a big impact on me, on my success; it sparked me to keep moving forward and keep doing bigger things.”

While in college, Luis also completed courses to become a lifeguard instructor. It’s how he plans to give back and honor this program that helped him focus on what’s next.

“This had a big impact on me, on my success; it sparked me to keep moving forward and keep doing bigger things.”