Frejoel Munoz Went From Barely Caring About School To Being An Innovator, With High-Tech Products On The Way

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It has often been said the key to success is handling failure.

Educators are passing along that wisdom through a non-profit after-school program. One student is the focus of this week’s Snapshot New York with Steve Overmyer.

Frejoel Munoz is about to meet his moment.

“What I’m feeling is ‘How am I gonna look out there? Am I gonna look like something people want to do or am I just gonna look like I’m standing there?'” Munoz said.

His journey to the floor of Madison Square Garden started in his high school in the Bronx.

Frejoel Munoz works on his XO Light vest for bike riders. (Photo: CBS2)

Bronx Engineering and Technical Academy is a small school. It’s housed in a building with seven other high schools.

Students like Frejoel are enriching their learning through hands-on training in a program called “BUILD.”

“When I first came into BUILD I’m like ‘What is BUILD? What am I supposed to do in doing? Am I building a bridge? Building a house? What am I doing?'” Munoz said.

BUILD is a program that helps youth in under-resourced communities, teaching them how to run a business and igniting their potential.

“When I actually understood what BUILD was and how I can grow a business, I made myself into a creative person in which I put many ideas and points of view together so I can create one whole product,” Munoz said.

What he and his team created is called “XO Light,” an LED weatherproof vest for bike riding in the dark.

In a city of lights, it’s easy to look past cyclists, unless they’re lit.

“Me and my team, we feel like heroes because we’re not just selling a product to sell it. We’re selling it so people can be safe,” Munoz said.

Frejoel joined BUILD two years ago. He has progressed using problem solving, organizing and working well in a group.

The product may or may not succeed, but something more valuable is being developed.

“Before BUILD I used to really not care about my work, but now I’m more like … do my work, sit down, make sure I have a good grade. And if I don’t have a good grade I’m stressin’ it out,” Munoz said.

On a recent night, his stress was being at center court at the World’s Most Famous Arena. Along with other members of BUILD, they received the Knicks’ Sweetwater Clifton “City Spirit” Award. Then the real test. Interpersonal marketing.

“If you want to be a leader you gotta learn more from yourself than from anybody else, because you’re actually the one that’s driving people and you want to be the one people look up to,” Munoz said. “You just gotta see how real life is and how we can make it better for everybody else.”

The road to success is not straight, or paved. But with every wobble comes experience, and growth.

“I was lost. I really didn’t know what I wanted in life or really didn’t know what talent I had,” Munoz said. “Now I feel like, ‘Wow, I really have made it a long way.'”

Frejoel hopes to take his product to market by the summer and is already working on an updated XO Light for dogs.