By Vince Gerasole

(CBS) – During a ping pong tournament between CPS students and Information Technology professionals, the real lessons on winning had nothing to do with the game.

The not-for-profit Lumity served up the meet up to encourage STEM studies and build confidence.

For many Lumity students, the road to winning is uphill.

“My family is economically challenged,” says Longley Phan, a Von Steuben High School student. “My mom is a single mom, so she is working her hardest.”

He says: “It’s always on my mind I might not succeed. That’s why I try harder each and every day.”

Mentor Miguel Guerra is a successful wireless architect. You would have never picked him as most likely to succeed.

“I got involved in the wrong things early on,” he says.

He became a single parent of three children.

At his lowest point, others stepped in to point Guerra in the right direction, and he’s dedicated to returning the gesture.

“I know I didn’t make it here alone — I was helped along the way,” he says.

There were about two dozen students at Friday’s tournament in the Loop.

Participants thought the winner would be awarded a computer. But in the end they all got one of their own.

Still, that may not be the most important take away of the evening.