Pawtucket-native Stephanie Nunes returns to Rhode Island to give back to her community after leaving 7 years ago to pursue her career in the field of social work. – By Jess Evora
Stephanie Nunes was born in São Vicente, Cabo Verde. A the age of 8 months, her parents moved her and her siblings to the U.S. (Pawtucket, RI) with hopes that this would allow their children better opportunities than those afforded to them in Cabo Verde.
Stephanie is keenly aware of the sacrifice her parents made to give her the life they didn’t have. This fuels her ambition.
“My parents informed me very early in life that the reason they came to America was so that I could get a good education,” Stephanie said. “I always knew that I had to at least meet that minimum requirement,” Stephanie said.
Stephanie would do just that and more. After graduating from Shea High School in Pawtucket, she went on to earn her bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Providence College (PC). While at PC, Stephanie conducted research on the experience of youth in the foster care system, and also interned at Tides Family Services in Pawtucket.
She then went on to serve one year as an AmeriCorps*VISTA member at Providence College before enrolling in the most prestigious graduate program in the field of Social Work, the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis.
After earning her Master’s in Social Work (MSW) in 2013, Stephanie remained in St. Louis where she worked in the public sector for 6 years. She held positions with the YMCA, United Way, and Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri.
RETURNING TO RI
After 7 years away, Stephanie has returned home to RI to turn the focus towards the community that has helped shape the person she is today.
Stephanie wasted no time getting involved. Just 7 days after driving 1,153 miles from St. Louis, MO to Rhode Island, Stephanie began her new role this January as Program Administrative Director for Youth In Action, a nonprofit youth leadership organization based in the south side of Providence.
“I really enjoy it,” Stephanie said of her work with Youth In Action. “I like working with my counterpart, Court, who is really passionate about her work. She really knows what she’s doing, which makes it an easier transition.”
Stephanie is also looking forward to working with the incoming Executive Director who will begin in the next couple of weeks.
APPRECIATION FOR RI’s DIVERSITY
Stephanie is happy to be back home, where she can use the skills she has learned during her career to give back.
“You don’t realize what you have until you don’t have it anymore,” Stephanie said. “St. Louis doesn’t have the ethnic diversity that you find here in RI, specifically in the Greater Providence area.”
“I love that you are constantly exposed to different cultures,” She said. “You hear people speaking different languages all the time. I’m used to being surrounded by the diversity that you get here in places like Pawtucket.”
“Having a child made me realize that I want him to grow up with a broader understanding of people, and be exposed to the celebration of differences at an early age,” said Stephanie. “I think having the cultural awareness I grew up with here in Pawtucket allows me to have a better understanding of people. I want the same for my son.”
THE INFLUENCE OF FAMILY
“I think knowing my parents sacrificed a lot to come to America – where we’re supposed to be able to live our dreams – that was always in my mind while I was working hard at school,” Stephanie said. “My parents’ sacrifice has always been one of my biggest motivations.”
“And of course my passion consistently influences my work ethic,” Stephanie said. “Learning more, understanding our society, and determining how I can make an impact are the things I’m always working towards.”
Stephanie feels very fortunate that she gets to do just that back in her home state as a new member of a Providence’s Youth In Action.
Good luck Stephanie, as you get settled back home and continue to give back to Rhode Island’s future leaders. At a time when our state has implemented programs like Millennial RI to try to keep young professionals in the area, we are extremely happy to have you back.
US & OUR CULTURE
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