April 1, 2016//
Meet Maria Muñoz '14. She's a UTSA alumna serving in the Peace Corps in the small West African country of Benin.
The business school is perfect for what I'm doing now. I feel like I have a lot more to offer abroad as a UTSA graduate.”
– Maria Munoz `14UTSA alumna
Every day, Muñoz leaves her one-bedroom home with sparse electricity and water and walks 30 minutes in humid 100 degree temperatures to a classroom where the roof is made of leaves and the walls are fashioned from trees. It's a far cry from her days on the UTSA campus, where she studied international business and gained the preparation for her job today.
When the first-generation student was deciding on a college, Muñoz chose to stay in her hometown of San Antonio because she said the business program at UTSA was one of the best in Texas.
"I made the best decision," Munoz said. "UTSA has an incredible international program. It's very unique."
Her professors encouraged her to learn how different countries around the world do business. She experienced those lessons firsthand with UTSA's exchange programs, taking classes in the United Arab Emirates, Italy, Greece and Hong Kong.
"Hong Kong was a life-changing experience," Munoz said. "I was in Asia, but there were students from all over the world. I learned how other cultures respond differently to business decisions."
One of the most memorable things Munoz learned was from Bennie Wilson, a senior lecturer in management at the UTSA College of Business.
"He encouraged me to not burn bridges," Munoz said. "He made us understand it's important to stay in touch with people and to be friendly."
A month after graduating from UTSA with a Bachelor's of Business Administration (BBA) degree, Munoz packed her bags for Benin, Africa to join the Peace Corps. It's something she's wanted to do since high school and she said it wouldn't have been possible without UTSA.
"The experience I had at UTSA, mixed with my relationships with my professors, is the reason I'm in the Peace Corps," Munoz said.
At the outdoor classroom made from leaves and trees, Munoz is one of the teachers. She encourages the youth to become entrepreneurs as part of a program she helped start in Benin called Dare to Innovate.
"I want them to understand it's okay to be different, and you should definitely make a profit with your business," Munoz said.
Munoz said she's using skills she learned in an Introduction to Marketing class at UTSA to help a single mom start a business selling nutritional products.
"It's rewarding and nice to see people make a change because of what I've taught them," Munoz said.
She calls her next assignment an even greater challenge. Munoz is raising money to start construction on a new school building in her village.
"It's super important that this happens," Munoz said. "I don't want to let the children down. Right now, there aren't enough classrooms. I'm going to be gone in a few months, but the building will remain. The children won't have to worry about their supplies getting wet in the rain. It has the potential to change not just the students but the village."
Munoz's work in Benin will end in the fall. Next, she plans to find a job with an international organization in London.
"UTSA gave me these travel opportunities," Munoz said. "I wouldn't have gotten this at any other university. The business school is perfect for what I'm doing now. I feel like I have a lot more to offer abroad as a UTSA graduate."
Learn more about Munoz's construction project.
Do you know someone at UTSA who is achieving great things? Email us at email@example.com so we might consider your submission for an upcoming installment of Meet a Roadrunner.