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Freshman Named

Freshman NamedIn Oval Office ceremony, President Bush congratulates Raymond Nunez on earning one of nation's top honors. Washington.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [10.27.01] At a Congressional breakfast on Wednesday, Tufts freshman Raymond Nunez was given one of the nation's top honors for young people -- Boys and Girls Club National Youth of the Year. A 12-year member of the Boys and Girls Club, Nunez met with President George Bush in the White House Oval Office, where he was honored for his outstanding leadership and contributions to family, school and community.

The meeting -- which is part of a 52-year tradition at the White House -- marked the first honorary ceremonial event for Bush since the Sept. 11 attacks, and was described by the Washington Post as one of his first attempts to return the country to normal.

The timing of the event was fitting, as Nunez was recognized for spending much of his life turning tough times into rewarding opportunities.

"This is a special, special person," Dick Licare -- Nunez's high school basketball coach told the Lawrence Eagle Tribune. "If ever there was an example of a leader by example, Raymond Nunez is it."

At the age of five, Nunez moved to the U.S. to live with his father after spending his first years in the Dominican Republic in poverty with an abusive aunt and uncle.

According to the Lawrence Eagle Tribune, Nunez wasn't able to speak English and was failing all of his classes when he was introduced to the Boys and Girls Club in Lawrence, Mass.

The experience changed his life.

With the club's help, he worked hard, learned English and started earning straight A's.

But the young student faced continued hardships.

While a freshman in high school, his father was forced to leave the U.S. -- so Nunez turned to the Boys and Girls Club for help. With no home, he and his 2-year-old brother were taken in by the club's staff.

The following year, he was diagnosed with a rare form of anemia -- the illness had left the star track athlete without his physical strength. But Nunez started treatments and continued to work hard -- and by his junior year, he was playing basketball on the Central Catholic High School team, reported the Eagle Tribune.

He led the junior varsity team to an undefeated season and was recruited by the varsity team to play in the state playoffs. By his senior year, he was named captain of the varsity team.

But sports and athletics weren't his only priorities. Nunez was dedicated to giving back to his community.

He started a tutoring program at his high school and ran the supper program at the Boys and Girls Club, feeding 150 boys every night.

Now a freshman at Tufts, Nunez is studying to become a teacher.

"My goal in life is to become the best teacher I can be... to come back to Lawrence and work in the programs and with the kids to show them what can happen," Nunez told the Eagle Tribune.

Prior to his national honor, the Tufts freshman also earned the Massachusetts State and New England Region "Boy of the Year" titles.

He hasn't seen his father since he started high school, but Nunez credits him with giving him the chance to succeed.

"My father is still my hero," he told the Eagle Tribune. "He knew that in the U.S. we had a better opportunity to be better people and do something. ... Now I can't share my accomplishments with him."

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