Debra Born, Staff Writer
Rosemary Bonacci believes in actively preparing students for career success and encouraging them to become the best in their field.
Bonacci is an adjunct professor of public relations and came to Utica College with a passion for teaching.
“I’ve always wanted to teach, and that was the primary reason why I went back to school to earn a master’s degree in communications at The College of St. Rose,” Bonacci said.
After Bonacci graduated, she contacted UC and was given an opportunity to teach a class that centered around fundraising. Bonacci’s main classes are Event Planning and Campaigns and Cases and Problems in Public Relations Management.
“I truly enjoy teaching these two classes and providing real-world experiences to my students,” Bonacci said.
Bonacci’s students are currently working with the Thea Bowman House, a community and child care center in Utica, to launch a fundraising campaign to raise money for improvements to the exterior and windows of the nonprofit’s office.
“Professor Bonacci’s assignments are different than other classes,” said Andhika Wardojo, a PR major and member of the “Windows of Opportunity” campaign. “I like her way of making us do assignments to help a non-profit organization. It’s a good thing because it gives the students the experience to learn what it is like to be the PR person for an organization.”
Hanh Nguyen, a senior minoring in public relations, is working on improving the online presence of the Thea Bowman House as part of Bonacci’s class.
“She (Bonacci) has a client for us, so you can actually put your name out there,” Nguyen said. “You get a professional experience, and I think that’s a bonus.”
In addition to her classes, students, like senior PR major Marissa Verdon, appreciate Bonacci for the knowledgeable teacher that she is.
“I think she’s a great professor with a lot of insight on PR since she works in the field,” Verdon said. “She explains concepts really well and answers students’ questions thoroughly.”
Christine Leogrande, director of media relations at UC, is a longtime friend and colleague of Bonacci’s. They met at the Utica Observer-Dispatch when, at the time, Bonacci was balancing a full-time job at MVCC and while working nights at the OD.
“She can truly relate to students, as she herself came up the hard way, putting herself through college while working full-time,” Leogrande said. “I think it’s a win-win for students when they have access to someone with so many real-life stories to share.”
Outside of UC, Bonacci is vice president of development and communications at Sitrin Health Care Center.
“I enjoy all aspects of my job, especially the spontaneity,” Bonacci said. “Fundraising and communications are both passions that continue to provide challenges and rewards.”
Bonacci and her husband are both hockey fans and Harley Davidson motorcycle enthusiasts. She is also involved in charity work for the Thea Bowman House and started “Bags for Bowman” for the children at the organization a few years ago. Over 175 Easter bags filled with goodies were given to the children, and Bonacci’s goal for next year is 250.
“Public Relations found me, literally,” Bonacci said. “I had every intention of becoming a human resources manager until I took over the operations of the alumni office at MVCC. At the same time, I was asked to serve on a board to oversee marketing concepts for a statewide anti-smoking campaign. Between building relationships with alumni, running an alumni phonathon, coordinating events, working on ad campaigns and writing — well, I never looked back. Public relations and fundraising felt natural to me and I loved the work, still do.”
Bonacci said that a degree in public relations is “universal” and said that the ability to communicate effectively is vital to success.
“What I enjoy most is to see students apply what they’ve learned and evolve,” Bonacci said. “It’s wonderful to see them embrace the profession with enthusiasm and creativity. I also keep in touch with many former students. It’s a great feeling — and a humbling one — to know I’ve helped them in some way.”