Senior Spotlight: Marlon Guzman

Guzman will graduate with a degree in parks, recreation and sport.

Senior Spotlight graphic featuring student with curly hair wearing MU shirt.

Marlon Guzman hasn’t had the typical finish to his collegiate career. Guzman has spent his final semester at the University of Missouri on a different continent, participating in an internship with Wilderness Patagonia, a travel company located in Bariloche, Argentina.

The internship has given Guzman an opportunity to combine his interests in natural resources, sustainability and tourism. And while the opportunity has been vital for him to gain hands-on learning experiences, the internship has also led to a full-time job offer. After a brief return to Columbia to finish some coursework and receive his degree, Guzman will return to Argentina in January to begin his new gig.

“With so many interests, I never dreamed I would find something that would click like this opportunity has,” Guzman said. “It’s been such a well-rounded experience. And the fact that I now have the chance to return is spectacular. I obviously wasn’t looking for a job when I began this internship, but the fact that they rewarded my hard work means so much.”

Born in Chicago, Ill., and raised in Ciales, Puerto Rico, Guzman and his family moved to Columbia when he was 10 years old. Guzman attended Rock Bridge High School and knew that MU was going to be the best fit as he continued his education. Originally a civil engineering major, Guzman switched to parks, recreation and sport as it offered him the opportunity to explore a variety of his interest areas, especially those related to travel and tourism.

He chose the natural resource recreation management and tourism development track within the parks, recreation and sport program.

“I realized that the parks, recreation and sport degree program was right up my alley,” Guzman said. “I love talking with people and being able to relate to them through their travel experiences. There are numerous aspects within the degree that I really enjoy.”

Guzman found a passion for travel when he was young and has made stops in France, Ecuador, Mexico and all of the islands in the Caribbean. He said interacting with individuals from different cultures has provided him with important learning experiences.

“I’ve learned through my travels that tourism touches so much and is such an important industry,” Guzman said. “You don’t really think about it while you’re actually travelling, but once you start working in the industry, it’s a whole different ballgame. I really enjoy making someone’s experience as great as possible.”

Guzman’s internship has allowed him to see all sides of the tourism industry. The busy season for Wilderness Patagonia is fast approaching and a big part of Guzman’s work has been preparing for an influx of tourists. His internship includes a mix of outdoor and indoor tasks. When Guzman returns to begin his full-time job in January, he will continue many of the same items he worked on during his internship.

“It’s been amazing to spend my final semester putting everything I’ve learned to good use,” Guzman said. “I’ve been able to help with tours, promote opportunities on social media and do research on ways we can limit waste as a company. It’s been really great to play such an important role and be trusted to take on so much.”

Guzman was incredibly involved during his time in CAFNR. He was a CAFNR Ambassador for three years and was also part of the Sport, Parks, Recreation and Tourism Association (SPRTA). Guzman was a member of MizzouThon, too, the largest student-run philanthropy at Mizzou. He actually got involved with MizzouThon as a high school student, as the group partners with Rock Bridge.

“MizzouThon has been a big part of my life for a while now,” Guzman said. “It’s been a very rewarding experience, and I’m so proud that we have the opportunity to provide emotional and financial support for pediatric patients and their families throughout mid-Missouri.”

Guzman is also a first-generation student and has worked to make sure other first-generation students at MU know about the resources available to them. He said those interactions were very encouraging as he navigated college life.

“I really like to ask questions, and I’m always looking for advice,” Guzman said. “Working with other first-generation students really showed me the importance of not waiting around for an opportunity to come. I made sure to jump in and take those chances when they arose, which helped me land my internship and eventually led me to my first job.

“I received so much encouragement throughout my time at MU, especially from my professors in the parks, recreation and sport program. Their consistency and willingness to answer my questions were so appreciated. Anytime I doubted myself, their encouragement kept me on the right path.”