InspireU mentors help students believe and achieve

Nick Contreras discovered his passion for computer programming in middle school. He taught himself how to write code and fix PCs. However, the tech-savvy teen struggled to pass his classes. Nick’s principal recommended he enroll in CAST Tech, a career-themed high school in the South San Antonio ISD. He made great strides at CAST Tech but continued to have a tough time in the classroom. This past school year, Nick got the help he needed through the InspireU mentoring program. The sophomore was paired with Summer Johnson, a CPS Energy Environmental Analyst, who gladly stepped in to provide personal, one-on-one guidance and support.

Summer Johnson and Nick Contreras

“When I was paired with Nick, his big heart was evident and so was his lack of confidence,” said Summer. “He didn’t seem to realize he was special and had what it took to succeed.”

Summer is one of more than 50 CPS Energy mentors who encourage students across our community to stay in school, graduate and achieve their dreams through InspireU, a partnership between our Company and Communities in Schools – San Antonio (CIS-SA). Mentors meet with students at least twice a month – once off campus and once at the student’s school.

“I asked him about his grades and encouraged him to do his best instead of saying, ‘I can’t,’” said Summer. “I also encouraged him to talk more openly with his teachers.”

With Summer’s positive unwavering support, Nick boosted his grades.

“She helped me get on track and never let me slack off,” he said. “She gave me little motivational speeches along the way and encouraged me to succeed.”

Watch the video to hear from Nick and other students of CAST Tech who’ve benefited from InspireU.

Our employees have been mentoring students in our community for more than a decade through InspireU. Along with CAST Tech, this year our employees mentored students from Kennedy, Sam Houston and South San high schools.

“Every year, our mentors step up in a big way to encourage students to become successful adults,” said Cristina Duarte, CPS Energy’s Manager of Education & Mentoring Programs. “We are proud to be part of CIS-SA’s community of support. InspireU mentors are a wonderful example of how we put People First in our community.”

Though currently enjoying summer vacation, Nick is already looking forward to returning to school in the fall for his junior year. His mentor is looking forward to the new school year as well. Summer plans to keep giving Nick those motivational pep talks and encouraging him to dream big. During her eight years of being a mentor, she has found great satisfaction inspiring others to believe and achieve.

“One of the greatest ways we can impact a life is to express genuine compassion, care and concern,” she said. “That’s what I strived to do for Nick in both word and in deed – whether playing basketball with him, bringing him lunch at school or remembering him in my prayers.”

Sam Taylor

Sam is part of the Corporate Communications team at CPS Energy.

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