TILF Success Stories: Meet Jay Nunley

Posted by Trudy Richards on 03/04/2014


Nunley was an active JROTC member in high school.

TILF Scholar Jay Nunley has a chance to achieve what most college students only dream about: graduating with a 4.0 GPA.

And it’s not like he’s been flying by on easy classes. Jay is a chemical engineering student in the Whitacre College of Engineering at Texas Tech University. He chose his major out of practicality, but mostly because of his personality.

“I didn’t want to do just Chemistry because it became a little boring to me and I didn’t want to do just Physics or any of the other sciences that you can’t really apply as much into the real world,” Jay said. “With engineering, at least I can use it on a everyday basis.”

Exposure to two different UIL contests helped Jay transition into college level studies and seal his decision. He began participating in UIL his freshman year at Joshua High School, starting off with Calculator Applications. But the event he really wanted to try was Science.

“While Calculator was not the main event I wanted to compete in, it provided a stepping stone that helped me get more involved in the UIL Academic program,” he said, “After taking Biology and Chemistry my freshman and sophomore years, I began competing in Science.”

He advanced to the regional level his junior year and moved forward to the state meet his senior year. Jay hasn’t forgotten what competing in UIL taught him.

“UIL was interesting because it takes everything you’ve learned freshman year of college and that’s what you’re doing — at least in Science, anyway,” he said, “Chemical Engineering kind of tied it all together.”

Jay says that the funding he has received from TILF has been extremely helpful.

“The Welch Foundation Scholarship has allowed me a sense of independence in having to worry about financial concerns,” Jay said. “I have never had to worry excessively about how I was going to pay for college. Even better, having monetary freedom means that I am able to devote more time to studying and building relationships than the time I would have if I had to work a job.”

Now in his last semester at Tech, Jay is taking classes in chemical process design and safety to wrap up his requirements. After graduation, Jay says he’s looking forward to applying all that he’s learned into the professional world.

“When I graduate in May, I have a job lined up with Exxon Mobil,” he said, “I will be working as a chemical engineer at their site in Beaumont, either handling chemicals or petroleum products.”

Apart from the career fair connection that landed him the first of the five interviews had to go through, Jay thinks that two things helped get him the job: GPA and extracurriculars. Jay’s activities ranged from research to church to sports.

“I have been able to work as a research assistant in a lab where explosives research was being performed,” he said. “I am heavily involved in intramurals and in two campus ministry groups. I would advise anyone heading to college to get involved in some sort of activity; you cannot go wrong with intramural soccer!”

He also plays on the city soccer league and enjoys other outdoor activities available in the area.

“I go mountain biking out there because the Palo Duro Canyon is pretty close by,” Jay said. “I’m taking a scuba class — that’s one of my funnest things. Then you get your license and get to go on dives. Now I’m dive-certified; I can go wherever I want.”

To keep up with the demands of his courses, Jay spent a lot of time — believe it or not — studying. He says that having classmates around helps to keep his morale high.

“You gotta have people that study with you, I guess,” he said. “Otherwise, it just gets a little old and it’s not as much fun anymore. Having a study group — that’s a pretty big deal.”

For Jay, building relationships is just as important as the schoolwork.

“I cannot number the times when I have had to call a friend to get help with some difficult class material or even with some of life’s other challenges,” he said.

For the majority of the time, when you’re responsible for your own coursework, Jay says to always be prepared but never be afraid to ask questions.

“You will always get more out of a class when you have some sense of what is going on, even if you don’t understand all the material,” he said.

As a graduating senior, Jay shared his best suggestion on how to manage the college experience.

“The best advice I can provide to someone just entering into college is to learn to enjoy life,” he said. “Studies are the dominant priority, but learning how to manage your time in order to be social is also important and will certainly help in job hunts in the future.”


Written by Jan Ross Piedad

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