STEM MBA Program, Mechanical Engineering Graduate
McAuley Distinguished Engineering Student Award recipient
“This is something that is going to mean everything to me for the rest of my life… earning a scholarship was just one of the greatest moments of my life.”
Texas Tech had always been the dream school for Midland native Talor Nunez. His father had studied electrical engineering at the university and the younger Nunez grew up watching the Red Raiders on Saturdays.
A high school quarterback, Nunez had no college offers and had accepted the fact that his football career would be over once he arrived in Lubbock; he was ready to take on life as a full-time student. However, right before graduation, Nunez was approached by the coaching staff and offered a walk-on role with the team.
“I was told I was going to be a walk-on safety; I didn’t play any defense in high school. But it was an opportunity and I wanted to go after it with everything I have and make sure that whatever I do on the field, it’s making the team better,” he said.
Off the field, Nunez was eating six times a day on a 5,000-calorie diet, trying to keep up with the coaches’ request that he gain one pound a week. He also relied heavily on his father, who fully supported Nunez joining the football team.
“Financially, my dad told me he would do whatever he could to make sure I could stay in school. Even though I wasn’t paying, every single day I felt like it was just a burden on my dad. I also have three younger brothers, and I didn’t want to keep them from having a normal lifestyle. I wanted to help out my dad in some way, but I knew that I couldn’t at that moment,” he said.
Overwhelmed, Nunez channeled his energy into making good grades and giving it his all during practice every day. During fall camp in 2015, Nunez discovered that his hard work had paid off.
“He’s the person I would want my daughter to marry ten times out of ten.”
“We were in a normal meeting and Coach Kingsbury was showing that I was doing really well in practice. I was so excited because I was kind of a no-name guy on the team, working hard, just trying to help the team in some way, so It really meant a lot to me for him to even say that.
“So he finishes the team meeting and starts walking out of the door and right before the door shuts he turns his head back and says, ‘Oh, by the way, you’re on scholarship,’” he said.
The details of the moment are embedded in Nunez’s memory, especially when he was able to call his father and give him the good news.
“The first thing I wanted to do was call my dad. I told him, ‘Dad, something really awesome happened. Coach King put me on scholarship, and you don’t have to worry about paying for my school anymore.’
“It was the biggest relief that came off of my shoulders. It was one of the biggest moments in my life to be able to do that for my dad. I can’t thank Coach King enough, and also the people that pay for scholarships. This is something that is going to mean everything to me for the rest of my life. It was just one of the greatest moments in my life,” he said.
For head coach Kliff Kingsbury, the decision to put Nunez on scholarship wasn’t a difficult one to realize.
“That’s what it’s all about. That’s what you want, the impact you want to have. You want to have people that want to be great on the field, obviously, but want to be successful off and want to help others and be a contributing member of society.
“Talor is a guy is who is always trying to help people. He’s just a phenomenal spirit, phenomenal human, and we’re lucky to have him in our program. He’s the person I would want my daughter to marry ten times out of ten,” he said.
Since receiving his scholarship, Nunez has graduated from the university with a mechanical engineering degree and is enrolled in the STEM MBA program through the Rawls College of Business. He received the McAuley Distinguished Engineering Award earlier this year, given to one outstanding engineering graduate. He also recently married his longtime girlfriend, Kaylee, in May, and is excited about the future.
“My biggest goal as far as business is I want to be able to own my own company, not for just the sake of money, but I want to be able to be in the same role that I am here at Tech.
“I want to show people that there is no limit, that whatever they want to be, however great they want to be, they can reach that. I want that to be a part of my company, where whatever job they start at, they can grow into a bigger position, the same way I went from a walk-on to a scholarship player,” he said.
Ultimately, Nunez recognizes that the scholarship opportunity he has had while at Texas Tech has changed his life for the better.
“I’ll never forget this experience. Being a Champion for Life is a lifetime thing. It’s not just being here at Texas Tech and being a student-athlete. From waking up early and learning to have a lot of responsibility to working through pain and adversity and always reacting to it in a positive way, also just learning how to never give up.
“I’ve learned all of that in the past couple of years of being here and I think that it’s so cool that I can keep that with me for the rest of my life,” he said.