Thriving as a Young Adult

Apr 28, 2017

By Contributing Editor: Surline Jolicoeur, Former Thrive by 25 Youth Ambassador

I’ve learned that there are two defining attributes in life that help determine the entire trajectory of moving forward: your patience when you have nothing and your attitude when you have everything. For me, one of these defining moments came on a humid August afternoon when I received a congratulatory email indicating that I had been selected as an inaugural cohort member in Fairfield County’s Community Foundation’s Thrive by 25 Youth Ambassador Program.

Surline Jolicoeur, a member of the first cohort of FCCF’s Thrive by 25 Youth Ambassadors, is following her passion to work with youth as a Coordinator of the Youth Volunteer Corps Department at United Way of Western Connecticut.

And it came at a perfect time since I had recently just received my Bachelor’s Degree from Central Connecticut State University. But at 21, with a college degree and all the work that I had put into getting it, I still felt like I had nothing to show for it. I had spent the summer job hunting and felt that only individuals with experience were being hired.

However, FCCF’s Ambassador Program changed all of that. Upon being chosen to join the Thrive By 25 initiative, my thought became, “what can I do to get the most out of this experience?”  This was my golden opportunity to build my résumé and gain skills that companies seek in employees.  As time progressed, I became a part of a small sub-committee that focused on publicity and social media. We worked tirelessly to cultivate the vision that FCCF had for a new Thrive By 25 event, called the Youth Summit. As a cohesive unit, the other ambassadors and I, along with the help of the amazing FCCF staff, came up with concepts, implementation strategies, mission/vision statements and an overarching goal to carry on the vision long after the event was over.

It. Was. Exceptional.

On the day of the Thrive By 25 event, I discovered something that changed my life and the direction of my career forever. I discovered my passion.

As jubilant attendees became enraptured in the activities at the event, I sat transfixed as I watched them and caught those candid and rare moments that not many people notice. The moment where the light bulb goes off in their heads and the determination sets in their eyes, because they now feel empowered. The sense of pride that reverberates through them when their suggestion in the workshop is taken seriously and they are made to feel that their voice is important. These subtle moments are the ones that change the course of young minds by bringing forth a renewal process— where the things that they once thought were impossible are in fact possible.

For that reason, after that event, I had a new lease on what exactly I wanted to do with my career. A few months later, I attended a Youth Summit put on by United Way where I assisted in getting the youth engaged and providing insight on the Thrive By 25 initiative. The event was an enthralling experience that further cemented my conviction that I wanted to work with the youth in some way and this was the first time I ever heard of United Way and the services they offer. With piqued interest, I inquired about the organization and visited the various suites that hosted the organizations sponsoring the event. As I looked on and watched the faces of hundreds of kids adorning the floor of the arena and filling it with their energy, I clutched the folder in my hand that had the United Way logo on it and decided to pursue a career in nonprofits.

I am now the Coordinator of the Youth Volunteer Corps Department at United Way of Western Connecticut. I get to not only work side by side with youth to elevate their minds, their spirit and cultivate their appetite for servicing their community but, I also get to bring forth inventive ideas and strategies. Life tends to come full circle when you seize the opportunities presented to you and broaden your horizons. It truly is an amazing feeling when you get to do what you love and just happen to get paid for it.

Therefore, I encourage young people to find their passion. Allow experiences like the one I had with FCCF’s Thrive by 25 Ambassador Program to serve as a blueprint to exploring your interests. Allow Fairfield County’s Community Foundation to supply you with the tools and resources you need to thrive, not only in your community but in your life.

And so, I leave you with this, “You don’t fulfill your calling unless you pursue your passion. Passion has to be cultivated for it to thrive.” -Tony Evans

Go ahead … take a leap. I can’t wait to see you fly.


Surline Jolicoeur, of Bridgeport, CT, is a Public Relations & Marketing professional with the United Way. Surline is also a former FCCF Thrive by 25 Youth Ambassador.  She attributes her much of her success to building fundamental relationships that cultivate respect, loyalty, and trust.




When we empower youth to overcome economic challenges, we secure a more vibrant future for Fairfield County.  Learn more about Fairfield County’s Community Foundation’s Thrive by 25 initiative.