03 Oct Cuban Immigrant Makes Big Splash At YMCA of the Palm Beaches
Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates people and cultures from a number of Latin American countries, but the one that is most dear to Yarelis Leon Sosa is Cuba. The YMCA of the Palm Beaches’ Program Director has come a long way since her long and arduous immigration to the U.S., then finally becoming a U.S. citizen just a few years ago.
Leon oversees all aquatic and fitness programming at the Y-Express Aquatics facility located at 2728 Lake Worth Rd in Lake Worth, including senior fitness programs, youth sw
imming instruction, and the Y’s growing adaptive swimming program for youth and adults with special needs.
Leon credits her heritage for helping her find success here. “Latinos are very communicative, affectionate, and we love helping others,” said Leon. “Those are important qualities in a leader.”
Leon came to the U.S. in 2015. Before arriving to the U.S., she had graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise/Sports Science from the Cuban University of Science in Physical Education and Sports. Her first job in the United States was lifeguard at the YMCA of the Palm Beaches. Her work ethic and caring nature created an avenue for advancement to Aquatics Coordinator, then, soon afterwards, Program Director.
“My advice to the Hispanic youth is to not waste time,” said Leon. “To those who are receiving an education, use it for good and know there are many opportunities that can be taken advantage of. You must always persevere!”
Leon constantly thinks about her family still in Cuba, and she is grateful to have the opportunity to help them. “I am extremely proud and honored to be a U.S. citizen, but there will always be a piece of my heart that I left in Cuba.”
About YMCA of the Palm Beaches
The YMCA of the Palm Beaches has served the Palm Beach County community for more than 100 years, providing essential programs, activities, and services for thousands of children, seniors, and families annually. As the YMCA embarks on its next chapter, its partnership with Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation at Lake Lytal Park will vastly enhance its ability to offer these services and more to a much larger population within our community. The Y’s mission is to ensure everyone has the opportunity to learn, grow andthrive in a safe and nurturing environment, regardless of the ability to pay.