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Building a Bear Legacy: The Antuna Family

The success that first-generation alumni Kevin, ‘95, and Amy, ‘96, Antuna found after graduation served as inspiration, creating a clear path for the next generation of Antunas to follow in their footsteps.

When Kevin Antuna, ’95, enrolled at UNC, there were a lot of unknowns. Being the youngest of four siblings, but the first to attend college, he didn’t have anyone to show him the ropes. When he settled in on campus, he realized that didn’t matter at UNC. 

Encouraged by Kevin, whom she had been dating for a few years, Amy Antuna, ’96, decided to pursue her own journey in higher education. She started at Aims Community College where she completed her pre-nursing requirements before transferring to UNC to pursue her degree in Nursing. Like Kevin, she was the first in her family to attend college.  

The couple took full advantage of the resources available to them while they were students. When Kevin and Amy attended UNC, it was much less common to have computers at home. The university’s computer lab was an invaluable resource to them. 

“It was just a very easy system to navigate, we spent a lot of time at the student center as well as the student union, booked trips through the travel agency there, and utilized all the services ... It really was a time where Kevin and I supported each other a lot through the process,” said Amy. 

It was at Amy’s graduation party that Kevin proposed. The couple has been married for 27 years. 

After earning their degrees, the pair went on to have successful careers. Kevin taught for several years in Greeley-Evans School District 6 before transitioning into a position on an educational talent search program helping high school students prepare for, get into college and apply for scholarships. Then, for the remainder of Kevin’s career, he worked as a health inspector. Having earned his degree in Education, he was perfectly equipped to evaluate businesses and educate them on how to improve. 

Amy worked as a nurse for all 27 years of her career. Throughout her time as a nurse, Amy was able to try out different disciplines. Working in dermatology and other areas for a time, she found her primary area to be pediatrics and public health, where she would coordinate a program for children with special health care needs. 

“I found the professors [at UNC] to all be very supportive and I think I received the best education possible. Which kind of led to our daughter going to the Nursing school as well,” said Amy. 

Kianna Perez, ’21, MSN ’23, knew her parents loved their education at UNC and that the university has a strong Nursing program — it made her decision to attend an easy one. Plus, she had the added benefit of being close to her family support system.  

As a student, Perez did her practicum in labor and delivery, but as she transitioned into the workforce, she decided to try pediatrics. Now fully fledged in her career as a nurse, Perez has pursued women’s health and is exploring nursing clinical education. 

“I definitely hope to one day oversee a team of nurses and other health care members,” said Perez. “I think my master’s really set a good foundation for what that would entail and how to be a good leader.” 

Seeing the successful careers his parents and older sister have enjoyed after graduating from UNC, Niko Antuna, ’23, followed in their footsteps. Being one of the few colleges he was considering that offered a Software Engineering program, on top of the fact he could live at home while attending to save money, Niko also made what he said was an easy decision to attend UNC. 

“It was nice to have both my parents and my sister help me navigate the campus since they had already gone [to UNC] and they knew the lay of the land,” said Niko. 

After graduating last spring, Niko works as a deployment technician with the City of Greeley. He has enjoyed learning the ropes of the information technology field from the inside and is excited to see how his career can grow working with the city. 

Kevin and Amy had no trouble answering when asked how they felt about having a family of Bears. 

"I think the word pride comes to mind,” said Amy. 

The feeling of pride they have when they look at what their education enabled them to achieve, and now their children to achieve was their ultimate goal. Almost 30 years ago, Kevin and Amy began a journey to improve their lives through education — unknowingly creating a legacy that would inspire the next generation of Antunas to follow in their footsteps. It is a story that undoubtedly resonates with many other Bear families and many more to come.

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