Nunez Community College in Chalmette names LAMP Scholar
The Times-Picayune | 05/08/2013
Paul Mundy has been named Nunez Community College’s Louisiana Alliance for Minority Participation Scholar for outstanding performance. He credits focus, strategy, and rewarded faith for a list of accomplishments he enumerates with alacrity including receiving a bachelor’s degree in 2009 in business management from Southeastern Louisiana University; and working to become a personal trainer as well a a professional football player with the Georgia Force from March to June 2011.
Mundy joined Nunez in January 2012 as a LAMP Scholar. He was hired a Dow Chemical Co. before completing his associate’s degree in industrial maintenance with a concentration in Process Technology this May.
Mundy said people could easily mistake his returning to school for an associate’s degree after already having earned a bachelor’s degree as a step backward. Add to that hopes of a pro-ball career with all its pleasures and perks, and Mundy’s decision can seem absurd, nonsensical, even intriguing, he said.
His choices, he said, were not blunders and hold no mystery; they were analytical, pragmatic, tactical.
“Most people look at the life of a professional athlete and see the glory,” he said. “What they don’t see is behind the scenes, grown men at camp – some with a family and children – sharing a hotel room, bringing their lives – girlfriends, wives, children – with them, getting older, still hoping to make it.”
He decided to not risk six to seven years of his life gambling on a career in sports, while he could spend that time developing skills related to a sure thing, his degree, he said.
After the season with the Georgia Force ended in June 2011, Mundy took time for introspection and to formulate a game plan. He knew he was definitely returning to school and hard work did not intimidate him, but interviews for retail positions where he could apply his business management degree in had helped him realize that he did not want to work directly with people. He poured hours into searching for in-demand, lucrative jobs and decided on an industrial career.
His degree helped land him a shift work position with an offshore pipe plant in Westwego, close to his home in Bridge City. He had no experience with process technology, but to the company, a bachelor’s degree epitomized character, patience, and discipline. Mundy had heard about Nunez’s PTEC program, and even though it would mean working full time, then driving almost an hour each way to and from Nunez, in December 2011, he decided to visit Nunez based on the program offering and proximity.
He spoke with PTEC Program Manager Keith Tolleson and realized that “Nunez’s evening classes fit perfectly with my work schedule, so that I could leave work and come to classes in four-hour blocks. I knew it would not be easy, but I persevered. I kept my mind on my end goal.”
That end goal was to complete the program as quickly as possible, which meant that beginning January 2012, when he entered the PTEC program, Mundy’s life would be nothing but school and work.
“I structured my life around the program. I drove my old truck that had no air conditioning, even in the summer. I missed out on all social activities and had to keep a strict schedule—when I slept, ate, everything—but I knew it would pay off. When it got tough, I prayed and I kept moving in the direction I had decided on.”
By the summer semester of 2012, he had earned the Nunez LAMP Scholarship, geared for minority students enrolled full time in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programs. Ten months into the program, in October 2012, Mundy interviewed for a job with Dow Chemical. Of the 300 who initially interviewed, only six people were hired. Mundy was one of them.
A month away from graduation, Mundy is already thinking about his next move: he is planning to return to school to become a certified mechanic so he can open his own shop.