When he was 12 years old, Ageu “J.R.” Nunes was trying to install a game on his first PC.
“I kept getting a message saying ‘C drive is full’ and had no idea what that meant. I asked my neighbor and he told me that I needed to delete things off my C drive. So I went home and highlighted everything in my C drive and clicked ‘Delete,’” he said. “Deleting things out of your drive to make room is like taking parts out of a car’s engine to make it lighter. Within a week, my computer was broken and I never wanted that to happen again. So, over time, I became more and more interested in computers.”
A good friend who works at Argonne recommended that Nunes check out College of DuPage. The friend was told to attend COD by professors at engineering schools like Northwestern and Illinois because the classroom size was perfect and the faculty was phenomenal.
“He passed that advice onto me and I am glad I took it,” he said. “I don’t remember having a professor who didn’t give me life-altering advice. Professor Dave Smith helped me pick classes that are transferring to the schools I want to go to. Professor Bob Cappetta taught me it’s not about the grades you get but what you learn in the class.
“Professor Tom Carter encouraged me to apply for scholarships and I did, not thinking much would happen. Then I opened my email to see I had received the $2,500 S.C. Reed Scholarship for the spring semester. He just about lost it when I told him. I’ve never seen him happier and to me that’s cool, a teacher genuinely happy for something awesome happening to you.”
Nunes transferred to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to pursue his bachelor’s degree in computer engineering. In 2016, he landed an internship with United Airlines, working in the IT and Business Analytics department.
In 2017, he moved his family to Seattle for the summer to intern at Amazon with the AWS Deep Learning Team. After graduating from UIUC, he accepted a job from Amazon and is currently part of the Fault Injection Simulator team.
Married and with two children (and a third on the way), Nunes understands the need for an affordable education. Considering his beginnings in Brazil, he takes advantage of any opportunity that comes.
“Always believe in your dreams. I was born in Brazil and lived in a shanty until I was 9 years old. My mother brought me to this country in hopes of a better life and I thank her for that,” he said. “I was out of school for six years after graduating high school, so I know how hard it is to step back onto a college campus. But just consider all those who don’t have that opportunity. Take advantage of it!”
Nunes strongly recommends College of DuPage and the Engineering program.
“Even if you don’t directly want to do engineering, choose a technology field. If you like medicine, look into bio-engineering. If you like business, look into industrial engineering. Sure the subjects may be hard and the workload is heavy, but it’s completely worth it. You will learn so much about yourself and set yourself up for success in a treacherous job environment.”