A respected member of the ManyMentors nonprofit, Bonivel, alongside other respected leaders in the community, encourage others to be “inspired and supported” in their pursuit of becoming the next STEM leader and eventually make an in-road to the workforce. Since being added to its board of directors, he has helped more than 5,000 students in Connecticut alone through workshops, one-on-one mentoring, and general outreach. “I truly believe that successful people never reach their goals along, and mentors are the bridge to greatness.” As a staunch believer in higher education, Bonivel, an INROADS alumni, a NSF fellowship recipient, and Alford Sloan Ph.D. scholar, says, “It’s proven that people can be successful without going to college, but it has been my experience that college adds a culture diversity to one’s life that cannot be that easily attained anywhere else.” Knowing that African and African American men and women must “work twice as hard for half the credit,” Bonivel believes even through that strategy we can shift the perception through hard work and dedication.
Currently, Joseph’s main responsibility with UTRC is to develop, identify, and implement test protocols to evaluate the mechanical performance of novel advanced materials, components, and structures. So, it’s safe to say that he knows a thing or three about technology. To that, the senior research engineer has some wise words: “We have to be mindful of what we put on the Internet to be broadcast to the masses,” he says. “Facebook, Instagram, and other social media posts are now data-mined by potential recruiters, corporations, and federal agencies in order to build a profile of a potential candidate, employee, or client. I always advise to have a separate and private social media account for these aforementioned reasons.”
Stonewall and Okade were featured in their respective homeland publications, but it didn’t trickle down to some globally recognized hashtag celebrating their respective accomplishment. Bonivel responds, “we are not championed as often because people do feel threatened by successful black men, women, and other minorities,” Bonivel tells BE Modern Man. “It is easy to highlight the things we do wrong because it breaks us down and leads to things like the imposter syndrome—where you don’t feel like you actually belong. Luckily, the newer generation does not necessarily adhere to these thoughts and their social stances on black men are constantly changing.”
This American Association for the Advancement of Science winner is also an avid Pittsburgh Steelers fan, and track enthusiast. His skill set and discipline honed from a family who only encouraged as much, if not more, from their child—Bonivel mastered his professional attributes through joining the Toastmasters International. “A world leader in communication and leadership development, this was a group where you had the ability to practice effective communication techniques,” he says. “The ability to eloquently articulate points to peer, management, and those outside of your scientific circle had uniquely positioned me for success.”
Seeing his own impact in society as one that “deems the imposter syndrome a fallacy,” Bonivel exemplifies that our normal is extraordinary by continuously championing our resiliency and strength. “We’ve been tested, tried, and triumphed; we’ve been enslaved, subjected to Jim Crow, stereotyped, and systematically exterminated — and we still have risen to heights that no one can take from us,” he says expressively. “If I can utilize my talents or my networks to help another person become successful, I leverage that to the best of my abilities.”
A self-professed “semi-sneakerhead,” Bonivel knows that sparking interest in a young mind is all that is needed to change his or her life’s direction. As a BE Modern Man, he believes that the distinction is a call to action. “The BE Modern Man has an expertise that spans a significant number of different subject areas and can find himself equally comfortable in the hood as he is in the boardroom of a Fortune 500 company,” he says. “A BE Modern Man must be a pillar for the under-privileged communities that we come from and represent—a quintessential bridge builder. We must transform the norm for our communities internally while externally highlighting those successes to the majority in order to lessen the socio-economic gap between the two sides.”
Joseph T. Bonivel, Ph.D., a man who exemplifies excellence and execution, earned his reputation through higher education and community service. From his work with the ManyMentors program to his AAAS Science and Technology Fellowship with the U.S. government, he represents the brains and the brawn that the black community has in spades.
We at Black Enterprise salute you, Joseph T. Bonivel, Ph.D.! Your mission of providing mentorship and utter cool to young black minds frames us in an enthusiastic light, and is meant to be celebrated and appreciated.