Shining a light
Several months ago, Michael Nunez, 18, took his 16-year-old brother Eduardo to the park to teach him how to ride a bicycle. Eduardo, who has a learning disability, struggled to get the hang of it, became frustrated and wanted to give up. Michael encouraged him and he stuck with it. Now Eduardo can ride a bike just fine.
The Bryan Adams High School senior has a rare combination of persistence, confidence and genuine empathy for those around him.
Born in California, Michael moved to Texas at age 7. His father worked as a welder and at Subway. Michael endured bullies in elementary school, but he found a group of friends who were encouraging. Soccer became a passion, and in fifth grade, he made the team and went to the finals of the city championship. But his talents would best be discovered off the field.
When he entered Bryan Adams, he discovered technical theater. Teacher Jennifer Malmberg encouraged shy Michael. “Even if you don’t know, we will teach you,” Michael remembers her saying.
By sophomore year, Michael assumed a leadership position, teaching younger students lighting, sound and construction techniques. Rehearsals and set construction often kept him at school until 7 p.m. or later. By the end of his sophomore year, he was named “crew head.” “It’s like a team captain,” he says.
As a junior, Michael worked his way up to stage manager. “It showed a whole different side of me,” he says. “I thought it was going to be something hard, but I wanted to learn something new no matter how hard it was.”
Michael was voted president of the entire theater company in his senior year and his compassion shines through. “No matter how others treat me, I treat them as nice as I can,” he says. “Maybe they are going through a harder time than I am. Maybe they just need a friendly face.”
During his spare time, Michael works at Subway alongside his father. In addition, he looks out for his brother. Reading, navigating the world and interacting with others don’t come as easily for Eduardo. “I try to help him so that if he is by himself he is able to know how to live a decent life,” he says. “It’s a beautiful thing to see [his progress].”
Michael, who plans to study technical theater in college, won the Dallas ISD superintendent’s scholarship and been accepted into several universities with thousands of dollars in scholarships.
He has extended the emotional bond with his brother and family to his high school theater family. “They are brothers and sisters to me,” he says. “No matter what we do, we are always having fun and taking care of each other.”
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