In her dream job as Assistant Director at the University of Louisville Cultural Center, Sarah Nuñez works to support the needs of Latino students and their families.
In her dream job as Assistant Director at the University of Louisville Cultural Center, Sarah Nuñez works to support the needs of Latino students and their families.

The Community Foundation of Louisville’s new billboard campaign – “A Force for Good” – includes a familiar face to those of us who are part of Card Nation. Sarah Nuñez, assistant director of the UofL Cultural Center, is one of 13 billboard honorees chosen.

Individuals who are part of the “A Force for Good” campaign were chosen via a nomination process and have been shown to “demonstrate their service to others and commitment to the community,” according to a press release.

The Community Foundation of Louisville describes Nuñez as someone who is “committed to making higher education a more inclusive environment where students can celebrate their unique identities.”

At UofL, Nuñez – a Bogota, Colombia, native – works to support the needs of Latino students by managing scholarship funds and committees, providing culturally relevant programming, coaching and mentoring Latino students and communicating regularly with community partners.

“We do a lot of work around community engagement for Latino students and their families, sometimes before they’re even students here,” Nuñez said. “I do a lot of bridge building. It is not easy work, but it provides a better service for our students and their families, which is important.”

Nuñez adds that this work is even more important now as Hispanic/Latino enrollment numbers continue to increase at UofL. The percentage of UofL students enrolled for the fall 2015 semester who identify as Hispanic/Latino was 4.03 percent in 2015. That number rose to 4.51 percent in 2016 and 4.88 percent in 2017. Retention rates for this demographic have increased from 75.2 percent (fall 2014 to fall 2015) to 80.2 percent (fall 2016 to fall 2017).

“We have close to 800 undergraduate students who are Latino. Of those, we offer a lot of cultural coaching. We also offer a Latino peer mentor program and we pair all incoming and transfer students with a peer mentor to help them with general questions and just connect them,” Nuñez said.

Nuñez’s has an extensive list of priorities – shifting the culture, collaborating, programming, scholarship, raising money, investing. She says all of the work is critical.

“We do real, intentional, hard work every single day to bring the needs of our students to the surface. Now is the time more than ever with the Latino populations growing as fast as they are in this area,” Nuñez said. “It behooves us to do everything we can to make sure their needs are met, they have access to college and they’re successful in college.”

Nuñez adds that her work at UofL is just getting started.

“I am proud of what we’ve built so far, but we will continue to build on those successes,” she said. “When I look to the future, I have a lot of ideas.”

In addition to her work at UofL, Nuñez also helps foster community engagement through the Louisville Latino Education Outreach Project, a team serving the education needs of Latino students. A vocal advocate for the Latino community and all people of color, she co-directs the Louisville Latino Oral History Project, and is a member of Mijente.

The billboard campaign launched March 19, and will remain on display until late April. Some of its locations include Frankfort Avenue, Spaghetti Junction and throughout West Louisville. More information about the campaign and the honorees is available online

The full list of billboard honorees:

  • Karina Barillas, executive director of La Casita Center
  • Raymond and Kim Burse, philanthropists supporting the Psi Boulé Fund and the Community Foundation’s African American Legacy Fund
  • Jocelyn Church and Corey Nelson, directors of Grace Kids! A Church for Children
  • Arthur Cox, executive director of St. George’s Scholar Institute
  • Bert and Jane Emke, philanthropists supporting the National Council of Jewish Women’s (NCJW) Light the Way Fund and the Family Drug Treatment Court
  • Jackie Floyd, community volunteer in the Russell neighborhood
  • Mahogany Mayfield, co-founder of GLOW, Girls League of the West
  • Andrew Noland, philanthropic supporter of various initiatives that remove barriers to education
  • Sarah Nuñez, assistant director of the University of Louisville Cultural Center
  • Moshe Ohayon, founder of Educational Justice
  • Mona Page, founder and executive director of Rhonda’s Another Chance Inc.
  • Angela Renfro, executive director and founder of the Kristy Love Foundation
  • Dr. Georgia Turner, director 2NOT1: Fatherhood & Families Inc.