Christopher Nunez already is an experienced businessman. Back in his native Dominican Republic he used to run the most popular ice cream shop in his neighborhood. Not only did Nunez stock up on inventory each week at a local ice cream factory, he also balanced his own books.
He was just 8 years old.
“We didn’t have any convenience stores around the neighborhood, so people knew where to go if they wanted to have ice cream,” says Nunez, who ran the shop out of his family’s home in the city of Santiago. His parents also were his angel investors, helping to pay for the variety of flavors that Nunez kept in a separate ice cream fridge.
That early entrepreneurial experience, along with accounting work he did as a 12-year-old for a store owned by his mother, has shaped Nunez’ college and career aspirations.
“I just found myself being good at accounting, so I decided to go for it,” says Nunez, now a junior in the Manning School of Business majoring in accounting and international business.
Nunez moved to the United States to further his education when he was 16, a transition made more difficult by the fact that he was leaving his parents and two younger brothers behind in the D.R.
“I was in a situation where I had to do everything on my own. I couldn’t just run to mom for help,” says Nunez, who finished high school in Lawrence before attending Middlesex Community College. “I realized that whatever I do now, it will affect me and eventually my two little brothers because I am a role model to them.”
When he arrived at UMass Lowell as a sophomore in 2013, Nunez says he felt a twinge of loneliness seeing many of his peers had built friendships as freshmen. So he decided to get involved. Really involved.
He joined the Student Government Association. He became a Resident Adviser at Fox Hall and Building Manager at University Crossing. He was certified as a Diversity Peer Educator. He joined the Association of Latino Professionals For America (ALPFA), eventually becoming president of the UMass Lowell chapter.
“I remembered why I came to the United States — to better myself — so I just started to get involved,” Nunez says. “That’s the main thing that helped me start to love UMass Lowell — all the opportunities that it has to offer outside of the classroom.”
Taking advantage of all those opportunities doesn’t leave Nunez with a lot of downtime, and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“It keeps me motivated with my classes and gives meaning to everything I’m doing,” says Nunez, who credits Asst. Prof. Cassandra Rohland in particular for helping him navigate his way. “We have amazing advisers here who push you to do your best.”
Nunez wants to become a certified public accountant and start his own business (besides the ice cream shop). In May he is moving to Connecticut for a 12-week internship with the Otis Elevator Company, admittedly not a natural fit for an accounting major.
“They asked me why I wanted to go to a company that is mainly engineers instead of going for banking or insurance,” Nunez says. “I told them I like the diversity. It would kind of feel like here at UMass Lowell, where the business school is right next to the engineering school.
“There’s people here from all different backgrounds, with different experiences than I have. So I really enjoy that because the more I get to know people, the more I’m able to learn. And so when I’m working in teams with all these people with different ideas, once we put it together we are able to create something incredible.”