March 6, 2019 by
Photography by Sarah Lemke

Cecilia Stevens grew up in the water.

She says her parents took her and her two brothers swimming as toddlers.

“I have always loved swimming and being in the water,” Cecilia says.

The 17-year-old says she would see lifeguards as a child and thought it would be an interesting job.

“I’ve always been interested in helping people,” Stevens says. “I have known that I wanted to go into the medical field.”

Not many jobs in health care are available for teenagers, but lifeguarding involves first aid and CPR, so Stevens took a certification class at Mockingbird Hills Community Center. She was offered a job at Mockingbird Hills, and began lifeguarding, in May 2017.

“It’s more preventative than anything,” Stevens says. “We can prevent people from falling by telling them to walk or we can prevent people from drowning by telling them not to dunk each other.”

The Mockingbird Hills pool doesn’t see many saves, she says, but Stevens did save an 11-year-old her first summer on the job.

“There was a kid who went off the diving board who couldn’t swim,” she says. “It was in the deep end, and we have a higher chair over there. So I just jumped in the water, and swam up to him, and grabbed him, and we just swam up to the wall. He was fine.”

Stevens says her lifeguarding experience will be helpful in her future career, as will knowing how to react while remaining calm during an emergency situation.

The Millard North High School junior is part of Millard’s Health Sciences Academy, from which she will earn certified nursing assistant and emergency medical technician credentials. She says she’s more focused and enjoys taking college classes while juggling her high school coursework.

“It is really good that I can get a jump-start there,” Stevens says. “My grades are higher now than they’ve ever been. I think it is because now I know where I am going.”

Part of the appeal of the academy is that seniors have an opportunity to ride along with, and assist, EMTs. The prospect sparked her initial interest in the program.

“I thought it would be exciting to be an EMT,” Stevens says. “The more I thought about it, the more I realized I was a caring person and I think that I could be smart enough to go to med school.”

Stevens hopes someday to become an emergency room doctor. In the meantime, she plans to stay on as a lifeguard at Mockingbird Hills and, when she’s 18, become a pool operator.

Alex Garcia, recreation supervisor of Mockingbird Hills Community Center, says Stevens has always been reliable, mature, and a hard worker.

“She was one of our strongest guards as a 15-year-old,” Garcia says. “Most kids struggle talking to parents, but she takes that in stride.”

Stevens started teaching adult water aerobics in fall 2018. She says a lot of the clients are grandparents, but she finds it easy to talk to them.

“They like her and they relate to her,” Garcia says. “She’s super personable and her swim lessons are great. She always has really good reviews.”

Mockingbird Hills also offers therapeutic recreation classes for people with disabilities. Stevens says she looks forward to teaching those classes.

“It is nice to get to know them,” she says. “It’s always fun. They always have something interesting to say. They’re always nice. They’re very caring.”

Stevens says she doesn’t swim competitively, but she appreciates being able to spend time around the pool and share her passion for swimming.

“I enjoy teaching it,” Stevens says. “I love all the kids.”


This article was printed in the 2019 Summer Camp Edition of Family Guide.