Hispanic Coalition NY Names UAlbany Student and Alumni to 40 Under 40 Rising Stars

ALBANY, N.Y. (March 14, 2012) – University at Albany Senior John-Raphael Pichardo II of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., alumnus Irving J. Burbano ’11 of New York City, and alumnus Joe Bonilla ’11 of Albany, N.Y., have been named to NY’s 2012 40 Under 40 Rising Latino Stars by the Hispanic Coalition NY, Inc. The finalists will be honored March 24 during the NYS Assembly/Senate Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force Annual Somos el Futuro Legislative Conference in Albany, N.Y. 

Purple and Gold Student Ambassador John-Raphael Pichardo II, a UAlbany senior.

UAlbany Senior John-Raphael Pichardo II, a Purple and Gold Student Ambassador, and a classically trained singer, is an aspiring attorney and prosecutor.

John-Raphael Pichardo II will graduate from UAlbany in May with a degree in political science. He currently serves as a session assistant for New York State Senator Liz Krueger.

Pichardo is a trainer for the anti-discrimination organization National Coalition Building Institute (NCBI). During his time at UAlbany, he has been a resident assistant, a member of the Division of Student Success Strategic Planning Committee, the Spirit Street Team, a Spellman Award recipient, and a student ambassador, as well as a member of Omicron Delta Kappa and Pi Sigma Alpha honor societies. He also served as treasurer of Fuerza Latina, where he is an ex-officio member.

After graduation, Pichardo plans to attend law school. He aspires to make positive changes in the criminal justice system as a lawyer and state or federal prosecutor. This past summer he interned in the office of the Westchester County District Attorney in White Plains, N.Y., and previously served as an intern in Westchester County Supreme Court under the Hon. Susan M. Capeci.

Irving J. Burbano ’11 is conducting field organizing in the southern part of New Mexico for the Obama campaign, and before that was working with Hispanic press at Obama for America. Prior to working on the Obama campaign, he was a legislative aide to New York State Assemblyman Nelson L. Castro, for whom he researched legislation, provided assistance for floor debates and hearings, and monitored legislation.

Burbano has a bachelor’s degree in political science from UAlbany, where he was president of Fuerza Latina. He also worked as a peer educator for Alianza Dominicana, Inc. of New York City. During his service, he participated in a 10-month intensive HIV/AIDS educational and training program, conducted community outreach in uptown Manhattan, and provided health education during health fairs and school visits.

“I have found that talking about my experience as president of Fuerza Latina at UAlbany has been a great tool in communicating my leadership abilities,” said Burbano. “UAlbany was definitely a training ground for both the tasks I have undertaken and those ahead of me.”

Joe Bonilla ’11 is managing partner of Relentless Awareness, an Albany-based firm that handles web development, social media, public relations and crisis communications.

Bonilla holds a bachelor’s degree in public administration and policy from UAlbany where he garnered extensive experience in student activities. From June 2010 to May 2011, Bonilla was director of programming for the Student Association. During this tenure, he interviewed former President Bill Clinton as part of the World Within Reach Speaker Series. Before that, from September 2008-May 2009, he was director of Albany Student Television, managing an organizational turnaround from two members to 115 members.

Prior to starting Relentless Awareness in December 2011 with UAlbany alumnus Rich Fazio ’06, Bonilla managed marketing, branding and web development for Hudson River Coffee House, LLC, a firm created by former UAlbany student Anton Pasquill.

“UAlbany is such a unifying factor to what I presently do: A number of our clients are UAlbany alums and all of our interns are from the university,” said Bonilla. “The coursework for public administration and policy provided the essential framework to start a business with a public sector focus, in addition to my communication and journalism coursework. My experience in student activities also provided perspective on how to build, grow, and manage organizations.”

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A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany-SUNY offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciencesbusiness, public health, health sciences, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare, and sociology taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.