Soraya Morales Nuñez says her path at Princeton has not been what she expected.
Coming to Princeton was a cultural leap. She had never traveled far from home. Her first flight was a trip she took to the University to attend Princeton Preview, the University’s program for recently admitted students.
In addition, Morales Nuñez also was not used to the simple things many people take for granted, but were not accessible to her at home.
“I have a lot of resources here that my family doesn’t have,” she says. “If I’m feeling sick, I can just walk over to University Health Services, and there’s food in the dining hall all day. My family lived from paycheck to paycheck, and they struggled to put food on the table for years on end. Simple things like that make me realize just how different a world Princeton is than where I come from.”
Although navigating the differences between her two worlds can be challenging, she reports that the values she was raised with still apply here. “It’s the core of who I am and has helped me thrive at Princeton.”
I was fascinated with the moral and ethical approach we took in every lecture and precept, challenging me to think about the role of politics from a non-conventional standpoint. It was the type of learning I had hoped to find at Princeton.
Upon entering Princeton, she was a prospective molecular biology concentrator pursuing the premedicine track. However, after taking a course on global justice with Professor Charles Beitz, the Edwards S. Sanford Professor of Politics, in the spring of her sophomore year, her interests shifted. “I was fascinated with the moral and ethical approach we took in every lecture and precept, challenging me to think about the role of politics from a non-conventional standpoint. It was the type of learning I had hoped to find at Princeton.” Morales Nuñez is now concentrating in politics and getting a certificate in the Program in the History and the Practice of Diplomacy. She knows it was the right choice. “I only have four years here and I wanted to be happy,” she says.
Outside the classroom, she finds there is room to talk about issues that stir passion, such as immigration reform. Morales Nuñez works closely with the Princeton Dream Team, a student-run organization that schedules events on and off campus to educate people about the challenges facing the undocumented.
In most cases, she finds people are open to her point of view. “People don’t just turn away when they are feeling uncomfortable; they’re actually willing to contribute their part. It is not so much an argument, but actually a conversation. It gives me the intellectual vitality that I was searching for when I was applying to college. I’m really glad that I found it at Princeton.”
Morales Nuñez is also a class senator on the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) and a head fellow in the Scholars Institute Fellows Program (SIFP), which provides first-generation and low-income students with mentorship, academic enrichment and scholarly community throughout their time at Princeton. As a head fellow, Morales Nuñez leads a group of 10 to 12 fellows, mostly first- and second-year students, in weekly meetings focused on academic and social mentorship. She also participates in the Program’s workshops on graduate school, resumes and long-term planning.
Morales Nuñez says, “Your confidence grows as you spend more time at Princeton. The real world becomes less scary.” She added that administrators she knows are “always there for students.” Today, as an older and more confident leader on campus, that’s the message she wants prospective students to hear. “I know how many resources there are on campus and how willing administrators are to help you find those resources and use them effectively.”