Celebrating the Class of 2017: Anthony Orion Nunez
Major: Social Work/Certificate in Creative Writing
Programs and activities: Austin City Hall Fellows, Longhorn Center for Community Engagement
New to the scene…When Nunez entered the School of Social Work, he wasn’t quite sure if he found the right fit. Surrounded by accomplished students with impressive backgrounds, he felt like he was lacking in experience. “I wasn’t quite sure if it was for me until I started realizing my own strengths. I’m glad I chose to major in social work because I really want to help people, connect them to resources and be that light for them.”
A blessing in disguise…As part of the degree program, professors match students with an internship during the last leg of their senior year. Nunez initially hoped to intern at a child welfare organization, but his professor paired him with The Austin Resource Center for the Homeless (Front Steps ARCH). Looking back at his time at the ARCH, he believes the internship was a blessing in disguise.
Navigating difficult times….During his internship, Nunez helped his clients access a myriad of resources that many people take for granted, such as basic toiletries, basic health care services and clean clothing. Whether they needed to print out a resume or navigate the application process for low-income housing, Nunez was there to help them along the way. “Sometimes they come full circle and other times they take two steps forward and three steps back. The work isn’t easy, but it’s rewarding when I see the appreciation in their eyes.”
From study hall to city hall…Nunez also found fulfillment in the Austin City Hall Fellows program. Throughout two semesters, he collaborated with community members, city leaders and students on a large-scale project that benefits residents of Thurman Heights, a low-income apartment complex in Northeast Austin. During his time in the service-learning program, he conducted surveys with residents to better understand their biggest challenges and how to best meet their needs. “We didn’t go into this project as fixers, but as learners. We communicated with people to identify not only their needs but also the strengths they brought to the table. It was a great experience connecting with residents and seeing the change that could be made.”
Powerful than the mighty sword…In between classes and community service projects, Nunez spends much of his free time writing poems and short stories. One of his recent poems, “Changes with the Sun,” was published in Latinx Spaces. “Writing is a way to connect with people. My biggest aim with writing is to create a web of interconnectedness with people. I want someone to read my work and become kinder and show more love to others.”
Life after UT…After graduation, Nunez plans to work full time at the ARCH, where he will gain more experience in client navigation. In a few years he envisions himself working in child welfare or perhaps in hospice care.
Words of wisdom for undergraduates… “Connect with people. Classes and grades are important, but don’t forget to connect with people and take a moment to tell them how much they mean to you. This is a time to build relationships and memories.”