Sam Nevarez holding up several postal boxes

January 7, 2020

Tens of thousands of packages are delivered to UNCW students, faculty and staff each year, not counting letters and other mailings. It is Sam Nevarez’s job to make sure they all get to the intended recipients in a timely manner.

“A lot of people don’t realize the volume of mailings we handle,” said Nevarez, who oversees Seahawk Mail services at UNCW. “We handle more packages now than letters. With e-commerce, the volume has exploded.” 

In 2018-19, Seahawk Mail handled 64,000 packages for students. Another 32,000 packages went to faculty and staff.

Nevarez came to UNCW in 2005 after a career as a rural carrier for the U.S. Postal Service. Since then, he has run an office that has seen rapid change. 

The volume of letters has decreased with the rise of electronic communication, but old-fashioned cards and correspondence see a bump at the beginning of each semester and at Halloween and Valentine’s Day as families reach out to their students on campus, he said. 

The Seahawk Mail office in the Fisher University Union offers a full range of postal services. Nevarez also is responsible for the passport office, which serves the general public as well as the campus community. The office processed more than 6,300 passports in the most recent budget year. 

His staff consists mainly of work study students, including some bilingual students who work in the passport office. Nevarez takes seriously his role as a mentor.

“What I like is that they learn relevant life skills,” said Nevarez, who is often asked to write letters of recommendation for his student workers. “Even though it is a small part we have in their success, this is the most rewarding part of my job. We couldn’t do what we do without our students.” 

Sorting mail and handling customer requests can result in hectic days, but Nevarez finds respite in his favorite leisure activity. 

“I’m a boating guy,” said Nevarez, who lives on Pages Creek. He and his family like to take their 17-foot boat on the Intracoastal Waterway to Wrightsville Beach, drop anchor and listen to music. 

“I find that very relaxing,” he said, noting that it is enough for him to have his family and a job he loves. “I don’t live an exciting life, but I am blessed to live the life I do.” 

-- Tricia Vance