During a college visit to the University of Missouri as a high school senior, Alex Muñoz was ready to go home. Munoz said his morning meeting didn’t quite go to plan and he was ready to skip out on his second session, which was to take place with a representative from the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (CAFNR).
Muñoz’s mom encouraged him to stick around. Little did Muñoz know then that his meeting would lead him on a journey that currently has him meeting with prospective students about all that CAFNR has to offer. Muñoz, the director of student recruitment for CAFNR’s Office of Academic Programs, even occupies the same office where he learned about the College for the first time.
“I honestly wasn’t completely sure that Mizzou was going to be the right fit for me after that initial morning visit,” Muñoz said. “My meeting with CAFNR changed that feeling immediately. I was begging my mom to go home, but I’m glad she had me stay.
“It’s crazy to think now I’m on the other side of the table in the exact same office where I made the decision to come to MU. It’s come full circle, and I am in an exciting role where I get to share how great CAFNR is.”
Muñoz said he set up a meeting with CAFNR because of a high school environmental science course that he enjoyed. He was actually more interested in a career in the medical field when he originally visited – but made the decision to pursue a degree in plant sciences after a conversation with a CAFNR Ambassador. Muñoz graduated with his plant sciences degree in 2019.
“The ambassador I was paired with was a plant sciences major, and they shared all of the cool things they were doing within the program,” Muñoz said. “It was a quick pitch, but I was sold right away.”
Muñoz said that his degree program decision was justified early on in his collegiate career.
“At the end of my first week of classes, I stepped into a greenhouse for the first time, which was really awesome,” Muñoz said. “I realized that I wasn’t just going to be sitting in a classroom the entire time. There were going to be multiple opportunities for hands-on learning and that solidified everything for me. I knew I was in the right place. Plus, everyone was super friendly and happy to help.”
Muñoz was incredibly involved during his time as an undergraduate student, playing the sousaphone, a brass instrument in the tuba family, with Marching Mizzou all four years and taking part in three study abroad opportunities. He traveled to New Zealand twice through CAFNR and was part of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Ireland with Marching Mizzou.
“Those opportunities were incredible, especially my two experiences in New Zealand,” said Muñoz, who grew up in a military family and spent part of his childhood in Germany before moving to Missouri in the fourth grade. “I had traveled internationally before, but it was really interesting to see a different country through an agricultural lens.”
Muñoz joined the Division of Plant Science and Technology in early 2020 as a student support specialist. It was just two months into his new job that the pandemic hit, so Muñoz said that he never really got to completely dive into the position.
“It was definitely tough to learn the ropes when I was home by myself,” Muñoz said. “Still, the division, through my degree and my first job, opened numerous doors for me.”
Muñoz moved to Mizzou Admissions in 2021, where he was tasked with recruiting students, specifically in the Ozark territory.
“I was able to visit high schools that I competed against while I was in high school,” said Muñoz, who attended Waynesville High School just outside of Fort Leonard Wood. “It was really fun to wear the black and gold and represent MU so close to where I grew up.”
Muñoz just began his new role this summer as director of student recruitment in CAFNR. His job allows him to travel throughout the state and share how CAFNR helped prepare him for the future, as well as the great hands-on learning opportunities in each of the College’s 14 degree programs. He regularly meets with students and parents on campus as well.
“It’s really exciting to be back where this journey started,” Muñoz said. “I enjoy being an advocate for CAFNR, as I believe there is a place for every student in this College. I didn’t grow up in an agricultural household or have any agriculture experience coming to MU, but I found so many great connections in CAFNR and truly felt like I belonged.
“Whether you want to study medicine or science, work with animals or plants, or eventually go back home to the farm, there’s a place for you in CAFNR.”