Noa Román-Muñiz’s parents bought a dairy farm in her native country of Puerto Rico when she was 9 years old. Her father’s agricultural background — coupled with her mom’s job as a medical technologist in a Veterans Affairs health clinic — clinched her career path at an early age.
“Because of their influence, I wanted to be a veterinarian my whole life,” says the CSU alumna, who is now an associate professor in the Department of Animal Sciences and a CSU Extension dairy specialist.
After completing three years at the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez, she attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison for veterinary school. Román-Muñiz chose CSU because her classmates said they loved Colorado and that CSU was the best place for a veterinary internship.
During that internship at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital, she noticed that managers on dairy farms were giving instructions to workers in English, but many of the employees were foreign-born Spanish speakers who clearly didn’t understand. Her observation has prompted CSU’s Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures to launch a new undergraduate certificate program in “Spanish for Animal Health and Care.”
Román-Muñiz went on to complete a master’s degree in clinical sciences at CSU in 2004, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship. Today her primary love is teaching both CSU students and dairy workers how to keep animals — and themselves — safe and healthy.
“I’m passionate about seeing the light bulbs come on,” she says. “I love interacting with students and see that drive to learn. That makes my day and keeps me going.”
She also values the dairy farm environment.
“Dairy farms feel like home to me,” Román-Muñiz says. “When you see how much producers and workers care for those cows and calves, I appreciate that so much.”