By Rachel Stone
PPD Communication and Outreach Specialist
When Oralia Nuñez moved to this country from Zaragoza, Chihuahua in Mexico, she knew that her life, and the life of her children, would be better simply because they were living in America. This is a place where people across the globe believe that if you work hard, pay your dues, and keep focused, you can achieve all that you set out to do. America has always been viewed as a promise of a better life.
Growing up on a Mexican ranch owned by her father, Nuñez learned many things: dedication, hard work, perseverance, tenacity, stubbornness, strength, gratitude. Lessons like these cultivate people whose spirit runs deep and their heart enormous.
“I learned that we have to be strong, and that we should never believe in the word can’t,” said Nuñez as she described her upbringing.
Nuñez has been an employee at the UNM Physical Plant Department (PPD) for 13 years, working her way through the ranks, beginning as a custodian on the Main Campus, and now a Facilities Services Tech in Area 4, the University’s most historic section of campus. She is one of three women, alongside 71 men in PPD’s Maintenance & Operations division, who maintain the functionality and aesthetics of the buildings on the UNM campus.
“I have proved that a woman can do this work too! Four years ago I was paying for something to be repaired at my home, and now I can do it myself.”
Nuñez began her journey at UNM without a high school diploma and has managed to get her GED through a program offered by PPD. She has also continually worked to improve her English speaking skills knowing that there is always room for improvement.
“Many years ago I was encouraged to apply for the Facilities Services Tech position, but I was afraid to do it because I felt that my English was not good enough. I did it anyway, and I’m glad I did!” said Nuñez.
For the last year and a half, Nuñez continues to study Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) courses all while working two jobs. So far, she has earned eight certificates in HVAC such as Electrical AC Theory and Electrical Motors. Her latest goal is to become an HVAC technician with PPD.
“There have been many people who have helped me and encouraged me to do more and learn more. PPD gives opportunities to everyone, and for that I am very grateful.”