Looking Northward with Kevin Munoz ’20
For Kevin Munoz ’20 much of his time at Colby was invested in connecting and building meaningful relationships with students through the Pugh Center, SOBLU, and as the senior class president. Now with the help of the Pay It Northward campaign, he’s forging a career path in the technology industry using the tools he gained on Mayflower Hill. Munoz, who was recently featured in the Wall Street Journal, sat down with us to talk about what he brought with him after graduation.
Your graduating class entered a job market profoundly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Through the College’s Pay It Northward effort, the extended Colby network rallied together with the goal of securing postgraduate opportunities for each of you. What has this meant for you personally and professionally?
There were huge barriers I was able to overcome with the help of DavisConnects. I graduated with a humanities degree, and despite not having a robust background in it, I was interested in the tech industry. Pay It Northward connected me with more than a dozen alumni who each offered something of value, even if it was a few words of wisdom or encouragement. Through mock interviews, resume building, and other support systems, I built up enough self-esteem to network and eventually accept a position at a digital identity verification company called IDmission in October. As a first-generation college graduate, landing a job after graduation was a top priority and brought a lot of pride to me and my family.
What experiences that you learned from while on Mayflower Hill have stayed with you since graduation?
Working as the senior class president during my last year at Colby, I had a lot to learn about becoming an effective leader. Part of that process was understanding the importance of self-motivation with my own work, while still showing up for my peers in every way I could.
Simple things, like holding a meaningful conversation or communicating empathy, are soft skills I developed outside of an academic environment that proved monumental after I graduated. On-campus organizations, like SOBLU and the Pugh Center, gave me an outlet where I could apply those things. I continue to work on them in a professional capacity now, as well. Because I work so closely building relationships with high-level, international clients, understanding diverse lived experiences allows me to lead with confidence.
You represented the College, sharing what life is like on Mayflower Hill with the Colby community, as an ambassador for the Colby Fund (an immediate way to support current and future students). What takeaways and connections did you gain from that experience?
My outreach as an ambassador taught me the value of Colby’s alumni network. The idea that our shared experience on Mayflower Hill is a common denominator opened the door for so many other conversations. Growth requires persistence. The challenges and opportunities of the past and present may still be relevant for students to come. But I felt firsthand the impact of alumni support. It provides immediate budget relief for scholarships, faculty salaries, libraries, and campus maintenance, and it supports athletics, student clubs, lectures, the arts, and other activities. In many ways monetary support is a way to help the College and students move forward with meaningful programs and plans. Without it so much of what makes Colby “Colby” would be missing.
You dedicated much of your free time on campus to supporting your classmates and empowering student and marginalized voices throughout the Colby community. How do you continue that work after graduation?
I’ve made it my mission to be involved in my community here in California by joining organizations related to social justice issues in Santa Clara. I want to bring attention to marginalized voices and want support for that at Colby by rallying my fellow alumni around these causes too.
At work, there are sometimes cultural barriers that can put a divider between the company and a client. In my last years at Colby, I took Arabic and studied Chinese while traveling (also thanks to DavisConnects.) Because of that experience, I’ve gained awareness that bridges that gap. Now I’m the point person for international conversations and my understanding has gotten me a seat at the table. Being able to make those connections more accessible is part of why I loved going to Colby.