UAlbany grads awarded 40 Under 40 Rising Stars award
Published: Monday, February 20, 2012
Updated: Sunday, June 17, 2012 14:06
The 2012 40 Under 40 Rising Stars award from the Hispanic Coalition was awarded to two University at Albany students, Joe Bonilla and John-Raphael Pichardo. Bonilla recently graduated from UAlbany.
Bonilla's resume is impressive, having earned experience at many levels. At only 25 years old, his career has been successful and extensive with only one direction to continue: up.
Originally from Brooklyn, his family moved to Albany and he attended Albany High School. He continued on to Hudson Valley Community College (HVCC) to study as a broadcast communications major. He was the president of the theater club and of WHVC radio and was also involved in the Student Senate.
After his time at HVCC, he found himself feeling that school wasn't really right for him just yet. He took "a year and change" off from college to pursue other interests.
Out of college he did some marketing work and short film production. He was hired by Bow-Tie Cinemas to do their marketing for about a year in 2007. However, he decided to go back to school at Schenectady County Community College.
"I thought OK, let me enroll in one class and see how I do," Bonilla said.
After enrolling in a math course, he aced it and decided it was time to continue his education, and he chose UAlbany.
"I didn't want to go to UAlbany, but you know my mother works here, tons of friends went here and they were like, ‘just go for it,'" he said.
It wasn't long before his success at the university began. Two weeks after being enrolled he became the president of Albany Student Television (ATV).
"In 2008 it was nothing, pretty much just two guys going around video taping stuff. It was pretty much turning the ship around," he said. "First year was building it up and it keeps advancing."
"When I became director, we had no access and one of my first goals was to get ATV online. Eventually, we convinced them to get us a channel on air," he said. "They gave us channels 16 and 19."
He co-founded the Knickerbocker Film Festival with two of his business partners, which screens films from New York City, the Capital Region and all over the world, in places like Bulgaria and Italy.
"It is the only film festival in the City of Albany," he said.
Another project Bonilla is involved with is the Knickerbocker Ledger, a paper whose main focus is politics and things around Albany, which is delivered in a ‘clear, concise way.'
He formed his own public relations firm, Relentless Awareness, after working at a firm in Saratoga Springs that has grown tremendously.
His clients with Relentless Awareness include the Hudson River Coffee House, Albany County District Attorney David Soares and BU apparel in Philadelphia.
"Driving back and forth was tough and it was tech PR, which I'm not really interested in," he said. "So I said, ok let me talk to some people, and we formed Relentless Awareness."
"Our goal is to just get the word out, that's why we call ourselves Relentless Awareness."
He recently won the 2012 40 Under 40 Rising Stars award from the Hispanic Coalition, which awards New Yorkers who demonstrate success and outstanding accomplishments in business, education, politics and nonprofit groups.
"It feels good, yeah," he said, smiling. "I never settle for anything, I've seen where my family has come from and I just give everything 200 percent," he said. "Anything I can help out with, I will. My drive is really internal, I just really enjoy helping people."
His goals do not end here. He hopes to have Relentless Awareness grow, perhaps out of Albany. At the same time, he's never sure that he sets goals, but usually only looks ahead about three months.
"I'll let fate decide where I'll be in five years," he said.
His non-stop days consist of meeting with clients, planning things out, design work, PR work and enjoying tea from Hudson River Coffee House.
"I mean, there's busy and then there's madness. I think we are going towards madness", he said, laughing.
He hopes to build a staff of communications professionals who can handle themselves and keep his company going.
"I'll be the first to admit, I wish my grades were higher. But, you have to take advantage of every single networking opportunity," he said. "No one is telling you no. Take an opportunity, take a chance."