Enrique Muñoz, a recipient of the Maisin Scholar Award, graduated from Abraham Lincoln High School in 2019. Just last month, Enrique graduated from the University of Southern California (USC) with a bachelor’s in international relations and global business, and a minor in computer programming. We interviewed him to learn more about his journey, how he overcame challenges, and what’s next for him. Congratulations, Enrique, and best of luck!
San Francisco Education Fund (SFEF): What did you major in and why?
Enrique Muñoz (ER): I majored in international relations and global business, with a minor in computer programing. I first discovered my interest in international relations when I took a City College of San Francisco course. I found it so interesting and ended up loving it. I found myself taking more and more [related] courses because I had a great professor. I enjoyed the professors’ teaching style, and it made me more interested in international relations too. I also found myself enjoying marketing and was able to learn a lot more through global business. You don’t hear this much, but I enrolled in a computer programming course because I had more time in college and wanted to challenge myself. To this day, I have had some of the most challenging courses in computer programming.
SFEF: What was your most memorable moment during college?
ER: I went to City College of San Francisco for a year before transferring to USC. The first time I visited USC was during my junior year of high school with my Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO) program. Due to COVID-19, my first-time attending school in person was my junior year of college. My parents came to drop me off, and we were looking for housing on my first day back to school.
That night, we had to sleep in the car because hotels and motels in that area weren’t the safest; being in the car together was where we agreed it was the safest. I had a lot of mixed feelings that day. I was lost but felt super grateful I got to share this experience with my parents.
Regardless of not being able to secure housing [right away], this had to be the most memorable moment because I was on campus for the first time with my parents, who [have] supported me through many of my life’s journeys.
SFEF: What was most challenging about your time in school, and what did you learn from it?
ER: The most challenging part about school was attending school during COVID-19. I had a whole year taking off from making relationships, exploring my campus, and engaging in university activities. My uncle also passed away from COVID. In general, it was just hard to be in school and focus. However, I still tried to balance work and school.
Because it was challenging, I learned to be optimistic. It helped me persist and stay focused on all the other projects I was doing. It made me feel proud.
SFEF: What advice would you give to other Maisin scholars in college?
ER: Find ways to enjoy the stress because that is what’s going to make everything more enjoyable. It’s okay to cry and scream, and it’s okay to be challenged. Before you know it, the stress will be over, and when [it is], it will be a sense of relief. Never hate on the process, don’t doubt yourself, and learn to enjoy every moment, even if it gets hard. Find the small successes in those challenges.
SFEF: What are your next steps after college? What do you have planned?
ER: Right now, I want to relax and take care of myself before diving into my next project. I want to start my own business and open a mobile mechanic shop. I worked as a mechanic during college and learned a lot. I love talking to people and feel confident about entering a business of my passion and being successful. I plan to offer services to luxury cars in the future.
SFEF: Who are you most thankful for?
ER: I am so thankful for all my supporters. Programs like Maisin and SEO helped me along my journey. These programs never gave up on me. I am thankful that USC, SEO, and Maisin Scholar Award also allowed me to attend school and come out DEBT Free!
My significant other, who was there for daily support, is someone I am also thankful for. Supporting me with essays, course load balance, and just someone to talk to helped me succeed, and I am so grateful for that.
Lastly, my parents and brother have always been my motivation. They encouraged and believed in me, so I do what I can for them. My brother had health issues, and he was able to finish college, so I saw him as motivation. If he could do it regardless of his issues, I can do it too. Now we are first-generation college graduates.
The San Francisco Education Fund believes every young person has unlimited potential to succeed when they receive support and equal access to opportunities. The Maisin Scholar Award is designed to support students in SFUSD who have demonstrated financial need and an interest in continuing their education. Each year it provides approximately 75 high school seniors with as much as $3,000 annually for up to four years so that they can achieve their dreams.
Founded in 2001 by a grant from the Alexander M. and June L. Maisin Foundation of the Jewish Community Federation’s Endowment Fund, the Award intends to equalize opportunities for students who have not had the resources to excel in school.Learn more about the Maisin Scholar Award here.