Loving and serving others can cross any barriers.
Carolina Núñez, the associate dean of Research and Academic Affairs and professor of law at the J. Reuben Clark Law School, illustrated this idea through a story of her father’s experiences as a Catholic student at BYU. His fellow students and faculty opened their arms to Núñez’s father by taking him on road trips, offering a place in their homes and always being willing to listen to him.
“I am grateful to the BYU community for being so welcoming to someone with life experiences so unlike the majorities, for making room in their individual lives for someone who might have seemed like an outsider,” Núñez said.
Núñez shared further examples of loving and serving others in her BYU devotional address on Sept. 18.
Using the parable of the good Samaritan, Núñez emphasized the need for loving others personally, loving those who are different and learning from them.
Núñez also discussed one of the largest immigration detention camps in the nation for women and children seeking asylum, which she visited in 2016. Núñez had the opportunity to help “in a personal rather than abstract way” by providing legal assistance to help these women claim asylum.
She met many people who had struggled in their native countries, including one woman whose husband had been murdered by a gang.
“Her proximity to me helped me better understand her humanity and mine, and, suddenly, it was not just okay to be over a thousand miles away from my comfortable home in Provo,” Núñez said. “It was exactly where I wanted to be.”
Núñez also expressed the importance of helping those who are different from us.
“There is nothing lonelier than feeling like nobody really knows or understands you and fearing that if others truly did see you as you were, they might not accept you,” she said.
Núñez said as she reached out to those different from her, her own life has been enriched. She has learned from those who she originally intended to help and lift up.
“A small effort to connect with someone may mean the difference between
despair and hope for that person. And we, in turn, may find our lives enriched by that
connection,” she said.
On a recent trip to Encircle, a Provo based charity which offers resources for LGBT youth and their families, Núñez became acquainted with the LGBT community, which welcomed her family warmly and treated them as true friends.
“I left Encircle that day not as the rescuer I had imagined myself to be, but as the rescued,” she said.
Núñez closed her address by encouraging students to reach out to those in need and to follow Jesus Christ’s example.
“I believe in Christ’s message of love and in its power to transform lives. Love has transformed mine, and I sincerely pray that it transforms yours,” she said.
Next week’s forum address will feature Judy Miller, an adjunct fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter. Miller’s address will be held on Sept. 25 at 11:05 a.m. in the Marriott Center.