A dream come true
21-year-old heads to Oxford University; dad happy for family's progress
Nahjae Nunes, whose dream it was to study at Oxford University, pauses for a photo next to the sign of the department overseeing his degree.

ENDURING a rough life while growing up in the tough inner-city community Trench Town, St Andrew, taught Rueben Nunes one thing — that he had to work hard to take his family out of poverty and provide the best educational opportunities for his children.

He did just that and is now able to beam with pride, as his efforts were not in vain.

Today, after making sacrifices to set a good foundation for his son's schooling, Rueben is the proud father of an All Souls Hugh Springer Graduate scholar Nahjae Nunes who will be heading to Oxford University in the United Kingdom, in September.

"My son is a big deal for me because I am coming from the inner city. I grew up rough. My mother used to sell in the Coronation Market, downtown and we grew up very humble," Rueben told the Jamaica Observer.

"I realised that I was able to change the poverty in one generation and that's a big deal for me. Because most of the youth I grew up around took up guns and I saw that I was able to change that in just one generation and rise up my family to where it needs to be," he added.

Nahjae Nunes (centre) smiles with pride, as he shares a photo op with his family members (from left) grandmother Maxine Kirton; mother Stacy-Ann Nunes; brother Nahsaire Nunes; and father Rueben Nunes after collecting graduation awards at New York University.

His son couldn't agree more.

"Beyond the dream of getting into Oxford, my parents [Rueben and his mother Stacy-Ann] have sacrificed so much for me to get here. I could not have done it without their love and support," Nahjae said.

The 21-year-old, who will be doing his doctorate in international relations at Oxford University, completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Logistics and Supply Chain Management at Caribbean Maritime University, and a master's in global affairs at New York University, where he was a dean's scholar.

Even though he got offers from Yale University, London School of Economics and Political Science and American University, he was hell-bent on attending Oxford University.

"It's like a young academic's dream come true. It has really been such a blessing that has now come to pass through hard work, lots of tears, struggle, but also to see how it has paid forward and done good things for me. So I'm really thankful for the journey," he said.

"I have never been to Europe, so to be educated on a completely different continent is something that I am really looking forward to. That's something that really grips me to this day. I am starting my PhD, which no one in my family has attained as yet," added Nahjae.

In the near future, he wishes to work at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade and at the United Nations, World Bank or International Monetary Fund.

His father hopes he will continue to excel as he embarks on another level of his academic journey.

"He is very humble and is always seeking to help others. I am hoping and praying that he can be the next Marcus Garvey, the next Barrack Obama, that is where I see him heading," he said.

BY BRITTNY HUTCHINSON Observer staff reporter hutchinsonb@jamaicaobserver.com

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