Carnegie Mellon University

Photo of Jonathan Munoz

May 06, 2024

From the Bronx to Pittsburgh: First-Generation Tepper School Student Exemplifies Determination

By Sheila Davis

Sheila Davis
  • Associate Director of Media Relations
  • 412-268-8652

Five years ago, Jonathan Muñoz faced uncertainty about his future as he prepared to apply for college.

A senior at the prestigious Bronx High School of Science, Muñoz was unlike many of his peers who had clear plans.

"Neither of my parents, siblings, or older cousins went to college, so I couldn't ask them for advice,” he said. “The only person I could turn to was my high school guidance counselor.”

Raised in the Bronx by his parents, both Mexican immigrants, Muñoz earned a spot at his competitive high school through sheer determination. But his new school felt like a different world.

"I was used to being around Hispanic kids and families, and my new school was so different,” he explained. I didn’t see anyone who looked like me.”

Overcoming these social challenges, Muñoz excelled academically with the support from his family and guidance counselor, leading to his acceptance at Carnegie Mellon University among other institutions.


His move to college was further complicated by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced him to adapt to remote learning from his Bronx home. When in-person classes resumed in 2021, Muñoz finally traveled to Pittsburgh, ready to immerse himself in campus life and his coursework at the Tepper School of Business.

“I felt such a warm welcome when I came to campus, which helped make my transition easier,” he said.

His engagement in campus life not only enriched his social and cultural experiences but crystallized his professional goals.

His participation in Tepper School clubs, particularly the Undergraduate Consulting Club, was essential in shaping his career aspirations. Muñoz's leadership skills shined as the treasurer of the Spanish and Latino Student Association, where he played a vital role in organizing cultural events, including the much-anticipated end-of-year formal.

He also highlighted his gratitude for Tartan Scholars — a university program designed to meet the unique needs of high-achieving student leaders with limited resource backgrounds.

Muñoz’s extracurricular activities complimented his academic pursuits. One class that made an impression was Strategic Management and Innovation, taught by Oliver Hahl, associate professor of organization theory, strategy, and entrepreneurship. This class sparked Muñoz to think about how companies launch new products and move into new markets. It also laid the groundwork for his future career.

After four years at the Tepper School, his hard work paid off. He will graduate this May with a bachelor’s in business.

In the fall, he will start as a full-time consultant at KPMG, focusing on the financial services sector.

Reflecting on his experience as a first-generation college student, Muñoz acknowledged the challenges of connecting with peers and overcoming feelings of imposter syndrome. Yet, the supportive environment at the Tepper School and invaluable resources like the Carnegie Mellon Career Development Center helped alleviate many of those concerns and prepare him for his future.

As for graduation, Muñoz's parents will travel to Pittsburgh to celebrate his accomplishment of being the first person in their family to graduate from college.

“They’re very excited,” he said with a smile. "It’s their first time in Pittsburgh, their first time visiting me, and their first time seeing the Tepper School.”

Muñoz's story is one of embracing new opportunities, overcoming challenges, and ultimately, returning home to New York City, with a future as bright as the city skyline.