ACM Undergraduate Student Spotlight: Alexis Murillo

Alexis Murillo“Quite often individuals ask me why I decided to major in agriculture, and most of the time I respond, ‘Why not?’” Alexis Murillo, a current sophomore in the Agricultural Communication and Marketing (ACM) Major with an emphasis in Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences, is from Chicago, Illinois. When approached with that question, she often thinks, “I know what they’re really asking is how agriculture caught my attention while growing up in a large city.”

Alexis attended the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences, where she was able to combine an academic learning environment with hands-on experiences in the agricultural industry. While many teachers were influential in Alexis’ decision to pursue agriculture at a collegiate level, one teacher rose above the rest. “That teacher was Ms. Maria Byrd. Although she passed away two years ago, I often think about her and how she opened my eyes to what I will now pursue a career in.”

During her senior year of high school, Alexis applied to roughly 25 different colleges. She was accepted to all but one, and as a first generation college student, she wasn’t exactly sure what to look for when choosing a school, other than the fact that she wanted to study agriculture. However, on April 30, 2015, as Alexis sat in her first period English class, something just “hit” her. “An overwhelming feeling came over me and I just knew that the University of Minnesota was where I should further my education. I screamed in the middle of my English class and explained to my teacher what just happened. As crazy as that experience was for me, she told me she knew exactly what feeling I was talking about and I committed to the University of Minnesota that very same day.”

After making her commitment to the U of M, Alexis selected her major as Agricultural and Food Business Management (AFBM). But, sitting in her academic advising appointment with Sarah Ellertson during Freshman Orientation, Alexis was surprised that she in fact had selected ACM as her major. “I did not understand what was going on, but Sarah explained to me that I could easily switch to AFBM. However, something told me to stick with ACM for at least a semester and switch out if I did not like it. I ended up falling in love with the major and here I am almost a year later!”

During her time as an undergraduate student, Alexis has been incredibly involved on campus. She serves as the Vice President for Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS), a Kick-Off Leader for the Multicultural Center for Academic Excellence (MCAE), an Agricultural Communication and Education (ACE) Ambassador, and also serves as the Social Media Chair for the Minnesota Dance Marathon. Alexis is also involved with the University of Minnesota Research Apprenticeship Program (RAP), the CFANS Mentor Program, the Peer-to-Peer ACM Mentor Program, and the University of Minnesota Admissions Ambassadors (AdAms). If that does not keep her busy enough, Alexis has also held three jobs at the U, including her current position as a Peer Facilitator for Housing and Residential Life. She also had the opportunity to shadow Mary Buschette, the CFANS Alumni and Constituent Relations Director, during her AFEE 2096: Professional Practicum in Agricultural Education: Early Experience course last semester. “This was a great experience because I was able to network with numerous individuals whom I still speak to today. I made great connections and strengthened my communication skills throughout this experience.”

In terms of her favorite agriculture-related classes, Alexis says that it is a tie between AFEE 2421: Professional Communication for Agriculture, Food, and the Environment taught by Dr. Rebecca Swenson and AFEE 1001: Introduction to Agricultural Education, Communication and Marketing taught by Dr. Amy Smith. Outside of agriculture, DNCE 1401: Introduction to Dance was by far her favorite class. “All of these classes touched on diversity and the importance of accepting everyone regardless of their background. Diversity and Social Justice is incredibly important to me, specifically because I understand the battles of not always being accepted not only because I am part of the Latinx community, but because I am from the city.” Even though Alexis is not from a traditional agriculture background, these classes have helped her transition into life as a CFANS student.

When prompted with the question, “what would be your dream job?” Alexis says she never has a direct answer. Wherever she lands in her future career, she ultimately wants to be happy and directly impact the lives of others. Alexis hopes to be out in the community and communicating with others. Her advice for incoming freshmen and current U of M students is to, “not just talk to those who have similar interests and ideals as you. Often times, I learn more outside of the classroom from people who come from many different backgrounds. I guarantee you that only sticking around people who do not challenge your ideas and mindset will not help you grow and become all that you can be.”