Anthony Nuñez credits Elmhurst College’s Center for Professional Excellence with helping him prepare for life after graduation. But first, the senior marketing major said, the center did something even more impressive. It helped a native of Brooklyn—the famously diverse and boisterous borough of New York City—feel at home in Elmhurst.
“I had a tough time adjusting at first,” Nuñez said of his transition from Brooklyn to the Midwest. It wasn’t because people at Elmhurst were not welcoming. Just the opposite. “Everyone kept saying hello and thank you,” Nuñez laughed. “I’m not used to that, being from Brooklyn. It freaked me out a little.”
Nuñez’s roots may be in Brooklyn, but when the time came for him to choose a college, he looked toward the Chicago area, where his mother had been born. Impressed with the College’s business offerings and its leafy campus (Nuñez pronounced it “beautiful” on his first visit), he chose Elmhurst. But it took Nuñez some time to get used to his new home.
Elmhurst and Brooklyn are separated by about 700 miles, but the cultural distance is even greater. Elmhurst’s campus is tree-lined and placid; Brooklyn’s streets are loud and crowded. If Elmhurst is amiable, Brooklyn is in-your-face.
Then there’s the language difference. Nuñez’s Brooklynese didn’t always translate to the Midwest, sometimes leaving his new Elmhurst friends wondering what he was talking about. “And I thought everyone at Elmhurst sounded like Sandy from SpongeBob,” said Nuñez, referring to the drawling squirrel from the popular children’s cartoon series.
But help came early in his first year, when Nuñez went to enroll in the CPE’s mentoring program.
“I can’t tell you what a huge impact that had on me,” he said.
Nuñez connected with Caitlin Moran, a 2008 Elmhurst graduate who is a marketing manager at the Chicago–based supply-chain technology company ArrowStream. The two began meeting weekly to discuss school, careers and other matters on Nuñez’s mind. “She became like an older sister to me,” he said. Moran still serves as a mentor to Nuñez.
At the same time, Nuñez was becoming more acclimated to his adopted home and more involved in campus life. He became an executive member of the student chapter of the American Marketing Association and is active in H.A.B.L.A.M.O.S., the Latino student organization. And with help from the CPE, he landed an internship at Naperville-based PharmAffectiv, a medical and pharmaceutical consulting group, where he participated in market research.
“It was a great experience,” Nuñez said. “I learned so many little things about how to conduct myself in the professional world.”
He has now moved on to another internship, at Maddock Douglas, an Elmhurst innovation agency, where he is getting a hands-on education in business-to-business marketing. And Nuñez remains a frequent visitor to the CPE, where he meets regularly with Holly Coffin, coordinator of internships, for guidance on networking and job searches.
“Anthony has had some outstanding experiences, and he has taken what he has learned and applied it to move himself to the next level in professional development,” Coffin said. “He has taken advantage of all the opportunities the CPE offers.”
Elmhurst seems to have made its mark on Nuñez in another way, as well. Now when he talks to his family back home in Brooklyn, they tell him that he sounds like a Chicagoan.