At a glance:
Hometown: South-Central Los Angeles, California
SLC Resume: Community Outreach Director and Vice President
Career Ambition: Art therapist, or anything similar where she can help others
Sitting at LBCC’s Unity Celebration on March 7, anyone in the audience could recognize Marta Nuñez she sat smiling in the back row … until she was surprised to be called up to receive the Analee Fuentes Unity Award. She made her way to the front with an even bigger smile.
“Actually, I was surprised,” Nuñez said. “I know that my hard work is seen by other people, and that it’s appreciated. They mostly saw my hard work, that I always wanted to help and reach out to other students throughout their troubles and everything.”
Nuñez has been the community outreach coordinator in LBCC’s Student Leadership office during this academic year, and she has been busy working closely with the event planners, organizing events to bring the community together and making sure that leadership outreach is running smoothly. During her career in student leadership she has reached out to communities within the larger LBCC community, such as the Latino community and the lower socio-economic community.
Nuñez has made herself available for students to come to directly with concerns, in addition to Barb Horn, the student government adviser and student activities coordinator.
Horn has known Nuñez for over a year now and works closely with her as an adviser.
“She has a big impact because of how she worked as an event planner, and then she was appointed to the community outreach director position. She cares about student rights,” Horn said.
Nuñez has coordinated a program called LBLB (Linn-Benton Lunch Box), where students can go to the Student Life and Leadership office to receive food. She is also involved with planning Study Jam, an event occurring on campus during testing weeks where students can gather to study and prepare for finals. SLC provides food and drinks during the event.
Nuñez also is involved with the Latino Club, which is called Estudiantes de Sol, and her Latino community. “She tries to represent her Latino heritage,” Horn said.
“Being in a wheelchair, and life experiences that I had when I was younger, has given me different points of view in life. When I was younger my mom would always try to reach out to places for food and things that she thought we needed. She always tried to provide for us, you know, and my mom is my great inspiration for everything,” Nuñez said.
In July 2014 Nuñez was in a car accident and has been in a wheelchair for the last four years following that.
“Her kindness has lead me to the person I am, and that’s why I do the certain things I do now.”
Horn also noted that Nuñez has strong family ties; family is very important to her. Nuñez lives with her mother, three sisters and four brothers, and says that they are everything to her.
Nuñez eventually would like to become an art therapist so that she can help people
through art. Her favorite type of art is street art because she grew up around it and found it to be a message to the community, but says that “art is art,” and that she likes all art.
“Being in two different positions in life, being able to walk and then being in a wheelchair, I have found that I have more power within me. I have learned that I can stand up for myself, and I have to speak up for myself no matter what,” Nuñez said.
Nuñez’s effect on the campus community does not go unnoticed. Javier Cervantes, director of institutional equity and student engagement, has known Nuñez since last academic year, when she first came to campus and works with her as a mentor and supervisor.
“Impact is measured by the people you connect with, the network that you create,” Cervantes said. “So she, by her mere existence on campus and telling her story, and showing people that things can be overcome, and doing so with an attitude that is inspirational, that is the measure of her impact. Her attitude is incredible.”
“She’s going to find a solution to any given challenge,” Cervantes continued.
Those busy working with Nuñez in the SLC office complement her humor, motivation, perseverance, leadership qualities, and, above all, compassion.
“She teaches me humility,” Horn said. “She’ll remind me of being thoughtful of others and I learn more from her than I think she learns from me.”
Cervantes said LBCC needs people who demonstrate that systemic barriers can be overcome.
“LBCC offers opportunity,” he said, “and Marta is an example of people taking advantage of the opportunities presented to them.”
Nuñez is preparing for her role as Student Leadership Council vice president, and based on her community, leadership and engagement, the student body can be assured that its new vice president will value diversity, strength, change and equality.
“Be ready,” Cervantes said with a smile.