June 22, 2022

Student says surfing kept him afloat during pandemic

The surf is high early in the morning, so Dylan Nuñez, a political science student at UC Riverside, grabs his wetsuit, wax for his surfboard, a towel and sets out to catch the waves before school starts. Like many students during the global pandemic, Nuñez juggled student life amid COVID-19 restrictions and sought opportunities for personal and professional growth. Surfing is the sport he says has brought him the most joy during this time, and the one that makes everything relatable.

“Every time I surf, I forget everything that happens in life,” says the Long Beach native. “I don’t have access to anything other than the board and being in the water. During the pandemic, surfing was one of the few things I could do to get out and be active, but also to stay safe because I could keep a distance from everyone. It allowed me to get away from the stress of being at home all day worrying about COVID,” he adds.

Out of the water and back to school, Nuñez says one of the most pressing challenges for any student was to build a professional network and portfolio. Internships were hard to come by during the pandemic, until a mentor told her about an online internship with Our Voice: Communities for Quality Education. The community organization seeks to raise the voice of students and parents in education through social media. Interns work collaboratively to create weekly Facebook content that includes free resources and activities for parents. They also launched an Instagram page in early 2021 for students and young professionals, and are developing weekly original content offering tips, resources and more.

In the first year of its launch, the Instagram account grew to an audience that included hundreds of college students inside and outside of Los Angeles County. Our Voice’s Instagram provides a platform where students can search for study tips, college resources, scholarship information, final week tips, job fairs and more . By providing young students with valuable information, Our Voice has attracted a flood of students seeking consistent advice and educational resources.

“I learned so much about everything, especially the LA community and the education system,” Nuñez said. Our Voice has definitely allowed me to see a side of the work I can do – advocacy and social justice. I look forward to stepping into this environment and helping, being connected and giving back.

Nuñez says that while surfing has helped him keep a safe distance from people, the online internship has helped him stay connected in a safe and comfortable way. It helped him learn new skills and adapt to working collaboratively with other students from across the country.

“I feel like all this time I just learned to paddle and try to catch waves, but now I’m at a point where I’m going to graduate. I’m finally catching this wave and surfing it… I see where it’s taking me.

To learn more about Our Voice: Communities for Quality Education, visit the website at https://ovfe.org/ and Facebook page or group and Instagram page at @ourvoiceforeducation.

Dylan Nuñez, is a Long Beach native and a political science major at UC Riverside