On the Job: Jalen Nunn

A man wearing a blue button down shirt and a red tie, smiles in a studio portrait photo on a gray background

Jalen Nunn knows firsthand how things can come full circle. Nunn works for the Hurley Foundation as a volunteer and community engagement coordinator. Recently, the TeenQuest alum connected with R.J. Kaplan who works at Beecher School District, a Summer Youth Initiative (SYI) partner. The two worked together to have an SYI student volunteer at Hurley Medical Center’s Food FARMacy – a program that helps mitigate food insecurity by providing patients access to healthy food and other resources.

“R.J. reached out to my supervisor and being familiar with SYI, I knew I could make this connection,” says Nunn. “We worked with the student’s schedule, and she got on-the-job experience.”

For Nunn, TeenQuest and SYI launched him on his path to where he is today. After he graduated high school, Nunn secured a job through SYI working at Mott Community College’s Workforce & Economic Development Center. That fall, he started attending that college and immediately sought out a work-study program that he worked for until he graduated with an associate degree. During his time at Mott, Nunn met his mentor, Moses Bingham, who helped him continue his career path.

“When (Moses) started as the Director of Y Safe Places afterschool and summer program at the YMCA of Greater Flint, he hired me on,” says Nunn. He worked there for several years and was ultimately promoted to Space Places director, a position left vacant by his mentor.

Then, in 2021, Nunn felt a nudge to take a leap and applied for his current position at Hurley Foundation.

What is your role at Hurley Foundation?

My job is a dual role. The volunteer portion supports our director of volunteer services and assists in the management of volunteers. On the community engagement side, I connect with the community and share how they can support the foundation. Hurley is a nonprofit hospital, so we must make those connections.

How did the lessons you learned in TeenQuest and SYI help you on the path to your position?

Lessons on how to take initiative and the importance of networking. If I didn’t take the initiative to inquire about work-study programs, I wouldn’t have gotten on the path to where I am now.

What is your favorite memory from the program?

My favorite is the end-of-the-year volunteer projects through SYI. Those days of service were cool. I remember we went to an elementary school and did clean up. Then the next year we went to Carriage Town Ministries. It comes full circle with the community work that I do now.

What advice would you offer current TeenQuest students?

I would tell them there is nothing wrong with taking yourself seriously. You might not know what you want to do with your life, so have fun and explore. But there will be people in this program that will be part of your network in the future so be serious about it.

What has been your proudest moment since TeenQuest?

When I was able to graduate with my associate’s degree. I was excited when I graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint because I walked the stage alongside my sister. But I was prouder when I graduated from Mott because I was walking alongside my mother and my sister.

TeenQuest and Summer Youth Initiative are made possible through the generous support of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.