Immigrating to the Bronx from the Philippines at 5-years-old was a complete culture shock for Eunice Nazar. Today, she is impacting the community and hopes to one day serve in elected office.
Nazar, 20, of Co-op City, has come a long way from when she first arrived in the borough. Life was not easy as she and her parents lived with nine people in a two bedroom apartment.
“It was a difficult time,” she recalled. “I didn’t know English, I had no teeth and I was scared of everyone.”
She explained to the Bronx Times that one major difference between here and the Philippines is that families there eat lunch together.
Between P.S. 160 and M.S. 180 she slowly began to overcome the language barrier and feel comfortable. As Nazar got older she observed how much people struggle in the Bronx and realized that she wanted to make a difference.
Nazar attended Cardinal Spellman High School and today is a junior at Manhattan College studying history and peace and justice studies. She is also the second deputy speaker of the Manhattan College Senate.
With recent attacks against Asian people in NYC and Atlanta, Nazar is sad, but not surprised as this stuff has been going on for years. She is even a bit frightened when she takes the subway due to the racism.
“This past year it’s been tough because I know people personally who’ve been spit on,” she said. “It’s not fun to learn about how a lot of people are suffering and how one particular group is prone to COVID.”
All of these assaults, hate and deaths upset her, but make her want to advocate and stand up for those who are struggling. Her parents, Angelic and Michael, who are both nurses, taught her how to be a good person.
To see them go from immigrants and living in a two-bedroom unit with many people to owning a home and successful careers, inspired her to want to help others.
“My parents are my rock,” she stressed.
She is a history Fellow, a Writing Center tutor and was honored as the best supplemental instructor fellow at the College’s Center for Academic Success.
Nazar has been a policy intern at Mekong NYC, a nongovernmental organization that seeks to improve the quality of life of the Southeast Asian community in the Bronx and throughout New York City. At Mekong, she assisted in the launch of a statewide campaign, the Southeast Asian Defense Project and collaborated with local organizations.
Nazar was also recently recognized as a Newman Civic Fellow, one of 212 students nationwide to earn the honor.
“They (Mekong) have inspired me,” she said. “They are a great organization.”
As she looks ahead to graduating next year, Nazar hopes to join the Peace Corps or AmericaCorps and eventually go to law school and or start a nonprofit.
The girl who was once lost in the busy Bronx now has set high bar for herself. She hopes to do pro bono work, fight for those in underserved communities and maybe one day a council member or senator.
“My passion will always be directed toward people in the Bronx and USA to have a better quality of life,” she explained.