Student of the Month: A good mother with a dream

Feb. 18, 2013 @ 03:03 PM

Three years ago, Amalia Mendez Nunez’s plans changed.
She had been a student at Southern High School before joining City of Medicine Academy, intent on becoming a nurse.
“Then when I got pregnant, I had to drop out of high school to take care of the baby,” she said.
Now, nearly three years after the birth of her son Luis, Nunez might just have another shot at that dream.
She’s one of the first four students to graduate from the Magic Johnson Bridgescape Academy, which kicked off in fall 2012 at the Performance Learning Center on Driver Street in East Durham.
“It’s not easy to find a job without having a high school diploma,” she said.
The program, a partnership between Durham Public Schools and EdisonLearning, seeks to bring back students who dropped out so that they can earn a full diploma.
When she left high school, she was just short on credits in U.S. history and Spanish. So, those were the courses she signed up for when she connected with the Bridgescape program.
She shares parenting duties with the child’s father, Luis Recino. But she also works a full-time job at Compare Foods. That meant a full day when she added school to the mix, but Nunez managed to juggle it all.
“I missed spending time with my baby. But if I got a diploma, I could go beyond being a cashier,” Nunez said. “For him, I do this.”
Nicole Barton, a PLC counselor, said “the reason Amalia was nominated has a lot to do with the willingness and ability that we saw in her from day one.”
Barton said Nunez has an upbeat personality and positive outlook on life.
“She never gave up despite her circumstances and is such a respectful young lady,” Barton said. “With all that is going on in her life, she still maintained her academics.”
Graduating in January “felt good,” Nunez said. “It’s a good sign the program is going to work, not only for me but for other students who come here.”

Follow on Twitter at @HS_WesPlatt. Connect on Facebook at

About the award
Duke University and its Office of Durham and Regional Affairs are proud to sponsor Duke University’s Durham Student of the Month.
The Office of Durham and Regional Affairs strives to broaden and strengthen engagement with Durham and the Research Triangle region. Visit to learn more about the office’s educational outreach, neighborhood quality of life and economic development initiatives.

About Amalia
Age: 20
School: Performance Learning Center
Favorite Subject: English composition
Future Plans: Wants to be a nurse
Favorite Movie: “The Notebook”
Favorite Book: The Twilight series