Shelbyville’s Carina Vazquez Nunez sees Motlow graduation through unique lens

Motlow State graduate Carina Vazquez Nunez, center, has been a high-achieving student leader during her two years at Motlow, and will now continue her education studying physics in the Honors College at MTSU. Joining Carina, center, is her family, from left: Sandra Vazquez, Javier Vazquez, Maria Vazquez, and Olga Vazquez. Motlow Staff Photo.

Motlow State graduate Carina Vazquez Nunez, center, has been a high-achieving student leader during her two years at Motlow, and will now continue her education studying physics in the Honors College at MTSU. Joining Carina, center, is her family, from left: Sandra Vazquez, Javier Vazquez, Maria Vazquez, and Olga Vazquez. Motlow Staff Photo.

Carina Vazquez Nunez, a recent Motlow State graduate from Shelbyville, sees the world differently from most Motlow students. She is the daughter of immigrant parents from Mexico.

“I have been blessed to view life through the lens of a minority immigrant family,” said Nunez. “Beginning my (postsecondary) education by attending Motlow has been a very high priority for me as I have had every intention to accomplish this goal so as not to waste the valuable opportunity that I've been lucky enough to be presented with.”

Carina is a leader among her peers. She selflessly offers to provide guidance and support to those around her.
— Meagan McManus, Honors Program director

Carina has seen firsthand the kinds of educational and occupational inequities that can result due to economic hardships. She saw as a young child in Mexico how none of her parent’s generation or before were granted a realistic opportunity to pursue higher education. She saw how most did not even finish high school.

As a first-generation college graduate, she is hopeful to provide motivation to others who come from a similar background, and especially to her three sisters. According to a report published by the National Postsecondary Education Cooperative, older siblings provide significant support and knowledge to brothers and sisters who are considering applying to college, especially those from families where their generation is the first to attend college.

Carina’s achievements at Motlow are impressive: 2019 Physics Departmental Award recipient, Honors Out-of-State Scholarship and the Embark Scholarship recipient, Dean’s List 2017-19, Phi Theta Kappa co-vice president, Sociology Club, Student Government Association Freshman Senator, Psi Beta Member, and Pride Alliance Associate.

Meagan McManus, director of the Motlow Honors Program, first came to know Carina in the Honors Program office, and later as a student in the ‘Leadership in Honors’ course. “Carina is a leader among her peers,” said McManus. “She selflessly offers to provide guidance and support to those around her. The extent of her academic growth is most impressive to me, and I know she will continue to achieve great things academically and personally.”

According to Nunez, being able to be a part of the Honors Program is her most memorable experience at Motlow State. “I can attest that through the program I was able to make life-long friends and close connections with the faculty and staff. Without the Motlow Honors Program I wouldn’t have been able to go to Boston, Washington, D.C., Gatlinburg, Chattanooga, Memphis, and Orlando.”

Carina plans to transfer into the Honors College at MTSU in the fall of 2019 where she will continue her education in physics. “My goal for my future is to be happy with my physics career, so that I can give back to my parents everything they have sacrificed for me to be where I am now.”