Feature Stories 2017: Callie Nunez '17: advocate for recovery

Feature Stories 2017: Callie Nunez '17: advocate for recovery
Callie Nunez '17: advocate for recovery

Callie Nunez '17 has been recognized for her efforts to raise awareness around combating the ongoing opioid crisis.

Callie Nunez '17 was named a 2017 Newman Civic Fellow by the nationwide coalition Campus Compact for her efforts to raise awareness around combating the ongoing opioid crisis.

Nunez, a nursing major from Whitman, MA began a campus chapter of the national Young People in Recovery (YPR) organization in March 2016 to serve the community both on and off campus. 

An ally of recovery

UMass Dartmouth’s YPR chapter has presented at community events and resource fairs around the South Coast of Massachusetts, and received the Break-Out Chapter 2016 award from the national YPR leadership conference last year. The campus chapter also hosted Steps Toward Recovery Walk in fall 2016. 

“I identify myself as an ally of recovery,” said Callie, who noted that her brother is in long-term recovery.

“Growing up watching his disease take over his life was one of the hardest things to witness. However, watching my brother transform his life through the power of recovery was nothing short of a miracle. I not only want to break the stigma, raise awareness, and support those in need, I want to set a standard for other colleges.” 

Newman Civic Fellowship candidates are nominated by university presidents and chancellors to become part of a national cohort of community-committed students. Nunez joins 272 other students from across the Campus Compact Network in receiving the fellowship, with a term that runs from August 2017 through May 2018.

Callie has also received UMass Dartmouth's Jonathan Blake Waxler Prize for Social Justice for her commitment to raising awareness around the opioid addiction crisis, and was named a Pillar of the Community at the Student Leadership Awards Banquet.

Commitment to service

In addition to her leadership of the YPR chapter, Callie has been a home leader for the Samaritans of Bristol County Crisis Hotline since 2014. In 2016, she traveled to Haiti to volunteer and provide services in a community healthcare clinic. 

Callie is also a member of the International Nurses Society on Addiction, the National Association of Hispanic Nurses, the Emergency Nurses Association, and Nurses to Prevent Opioid Abuse. She presented a research poster, "Student Recovery Advocacy Movement on the Campus of University of Massachusetts Dartmouth; Initiative to End the Stigma of Addiction," at the International Nurses Society on Addictions conference.

A future in ER nursing & nursing education

I'll be attending graduate school at UMass Dartmouth, pursing my master's degree in nursing and healthcare education. I'll also be seeking employment at St. Luke's Hospital in the emergency room, where I am currently completing my senior year mentorship.

I hope to develop the necessary skills and competencies to be a successful emergency room nurse, and also plan to be involved in the College of Nursing as a clinical instructor and, eventually, a professor.

During my study for my master's, my goal is to create a curriculum around substance use disorder to educate our nursing students on this taboo topic. Our geographical location between two of the most impacted cities of the opioid epidemic, Fall River and New Bedford, puts nursing students at an increased risk of working with patients impacted by substance use. Educating students early on how to care for this population is essential so that future nurses can implement their roles in this public health crisis effectively.

Being recognized as a 2017 Campus Compact Newman Civic Fellow will allow me to attend different seminars and events that will strengthen my leadership skills and help me implement further change in the community.

I also plan to continue communication with the national office of YPR and offer my guidance and support to the YPR-Dartmouth chapter. Watching the club evolve in the years to come is something I'm truly excited to see.

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