Charlotte Engineering Early College (CEEC) senior Axel Nunez was born in the United States but spent most of his young life living in Mexico with his mother. Four years ago, his mother sought to give him a better education, so Axel traveled back to the Charlotte area to live with his aunt and uncle.
Axel started his CMS education in the eighth grade at Collinswood Language Academy as an English Learner (EL) student. His love of engineering led him to enroll at CEEC. Despite language barriers, Axel adapted quickly and learned to thrive at the early college.
“After having a lot of trouble and struggling with school, I was able to keep up with all the work assigned throughout the year,” said Axel. “The EL program allowed me to develop myself as a scholar and develop myself as a leader.”
Keeping up with his grades is what motivates Axel. He’ll be graduating with a 4.6 GPA, making him this year’s salutatorian at CEEC. Last year, Axel also had the opportunity to intern at NASA. He said the internship exposed him to what he’s most interested in, engineering.
Axel keeps busy away from school, working 20 hours a week at Starbucks and doing a lot of volunteer work. He’s active in Alianza, a coalition of organizations working to advance Latino substance-abuse prevention in the Charlotte community. Axel is an Alianza stakeholder and one of its youth program leaders.
He also started his own organization recently called Build Esperanza. “Build Esperanza empowers kids to pursue higher education regardless of language barriers,” Axel said.
“Axel is a game changer, a world changer,” said CEEC counselor Lauri McDaniels. “Axel on paper can’t possibly convey the many things he has done, communities he has impacted and what his exciting future will unfold. I’m lucky to have witnessed and been a small part of his journey.”
So what’s next for Axel? He has his sights set for the stars. He’ll be attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology this fall on a four-year scholarship. Axel plans on majoring in aerospace engineering and then attend graduate school. His dream is to one day work for NASA.
More importantly, Axel hopes to inspire students to always pursue their dreams. “I hope my story empowers other students who come from similar backgrounds to mine to not be afraid to ask questions and to get the help they need to achieve their goals.”