UTEC coach wins national award for work with at-risk youth

“I see a lot of myself in [UTEC’s young adults],” said Transitional Coach Tom Sun, profiled in The Sun News for winning a national award from the Superstar Foundation. “A lot of them just need coaching and support and guidance.” 

OWELL — It took Tom Sun more than two years to build a strong relationship with one of the troubled young men he worked with as a transitional coach at UTEC.$2.50 December 31, 2017 Lowell, Massachusetts SUNDAYEventually, Sun got through. Today, thatyoung man still stops by the agency’s Hurd Streetheadquarters to give Sun a hug, or chat aboutsports. He’s completed UTEC’s programming andis doing well.“He’s just awesome now, and it’s so amazing tosee him grow and change as a human being andgrown man,” Sun said. “It’s really rewarding.”Sun, 43, who has worked at UTEC for about 8years, earned national recognition last week whenhe was named one of four winners of theSuperstar Foundation’s Veronica Awards, whichrecognize exceptional performance among humanservices workers.A refugee from the genocide perpetrated bythe Khmer Rouge, Sun had already lost his fatherby the time his mother and three siblings fled tothe U.S. when Sun was 4. He lived in Boston untilabout the third grade, and then came to Lowell,when the city was rife with gang violence andplenty of pitfalls for a young man without a strongsupport system.