Orlando Bonifacio created a network for himself that helped him earn a master's degree and create a startup company.
Originally from the Dominican Republic, Bonifacio used Grand Valley resources to help create a startup company and earn a master's in business administration in less than five years after graduating.
Bonifacio graduated in 2008 with a bachelor's degree in operations management. He helped start an accounting firm in Grand Rapids after earning an MBA from Wayne State University in 2010. The company, Universal Income Tax & Accounting Services, was named "New Business of the Year" by the West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in 2013.
Bonifacio was educated in the United States, but said certain U.S. policies make it challenging for international students to keep up with their American peers.
“There were different rules and regulations at the university level,” said Bonifacio. “One challenge I had was trying to get an internship. For international students, this is very hard because we have to go through more paperwork and also because there are more rules to follow. Also, many employers do not want to hire internationals because of the paperwork involved and it can be expensive.”
Bonifacio took initiative to get the most out of his college experience. He worked with Grand Valley faculty and staff members, and departments such as the EXCEL Program, Career Center, Housing and Residence Life and the Padnos International Center to find an internship. Grand Valley also gave Bonifacio the opportunity to work with professionals in the area.
“One particular study that I was part of was to help some of Grand Valley faculty members research the local Hispanic-owned businesses in West Michigan,” said Bonifacio. “Through this study I went around the Grand Rapids area to interview different Hispanic business owners to learn more about how their business was created, how they ran it, how they were doing economically and much more.”
Little did he know that five years later he would be help create a similar business and that he would also serve some of those clients he interviewed for the study.
“My time at GVSU was a very enjoyable experience and I really liked the school,” said Bonifacio. “I felt like GVSU was a place that helped me create a good foundation for my career and also personal development.”