“I didn’t know what I wanted to be,” he says. “The only thing I knew was that I wanted the opportunity to study film in New York.”
Luciano ultimately chose Fordham because of the support that the School of Professional and Continuing Studies offered him, including the opportunity to work full time while taking some core classes in Spanish, with other classes geared specifically toward English language learners. “It helped me transition before getting into my major classes,” the 2002 graduate says.
He soon landed a position at the Spanish-language TV network Univision, where he moved from an internship into a full-time marketing position while continuing to pursue a degree in communications and media studies.
Though he initially thought he wanted to be a producer, his experiences both at work and in class led him on a different path. “I decided that if I wanted to be the head of a team and have power to make decisions, that was really on the advertising side,” he says. “I was afraid of losing my creative side at first, but my professors who worked in the business opened my eyes and showed me how I could still be creative this way.”
Now a vice president of sales at another Spanish-language network, Azteca América, Luciano credits Fordham with helping him find professional success—especially through collaborative experiences.
“You rarely do anything on your own in my job; there are usually two or three departments you have to collaborate with. That was the way Fordham worked too.”
His Fordham experience made an impact on his personal life too. One of his film classes established his personal tradition of Saturday morning movie outings. “I loved going to class on a Saturday morning and watching a whole movie, so I still do it,” Luciano says. “At about 10 in the morning on Saturdays or Sundays, that’s how I usually go to the movies, sometimes with another friend who was in that class.”
Luciano has also found time to produce two films so far—a feature film about María Montez, the Dominican-born actress who was known as the Queen of Technicolor, and a children’s movie about baseball. Now he’s working on writing a romantic comedy with Volney Guzman, PCS ’02, a fellow Dominican he met on the bus from Fordham’s Rose Hill campus to Manhattan.
His relationship with the University has lasted as well. He has come back to campus to speak to students in several classes, and he currently chairs MOSAIC, the alumni affinity chapter that aims to support diversity and inclusion in the Fordham community. The group is co-sponsoring the upcoming panel on How to Succeed as a Diverse Candidate, which will take place on the Lincoln Center campus on Feb. 19. And they’re preparing for a half-day diversity and inclusion conference at Rose Hill in April.
It’s a topic Luciano is passionate about, and it’s one of the reasons he got involved with MOSAIC in the first place.
“I always wanted to do something like this that can help connect the community at large to Fordham and also help students who are in the same situation as me,” Luciano explains. “Sometimes we limit ourselves as minorities, because we think we aren’t going to be successful. And a lot of minority students also don’t have access to a network of people that can help them out,” he says.
“You have to find your way to being comfortable with being diverse, knowing you have something different to offer. And we have to help start that network for each other.”
What are you most passionate about?
Traveling. In the last 10 years, as it has become easier to travel, I realized how big the world is, but also how small at the same time. You go explore different places, different cultures, and different people, and you see the commonality of the human race.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
One of my bosses once told me not to be ashamed of my accent. When I told him I was uncomfortable when I have to present, he said that everybody speaks with an accent, and that anybody who has spoken with me will notice that I am not only educated and smart, but I am also bilingual. It made me pull back and see what I have to offer, to get comfortable with the idea that yeah, I’m a minority, but that’s my strength, not my weakness.
What’s your favorite place in New York City? In the world?
I love uptown Manhattan, especially Washington Heights. I have seen this area change through the years. I used to visit as a kid and I hang out there on weekends now. There are so many good places, and it’s definitely been gentrified, but I think these newcomers go there because they appreciate the whole mix of people. That’s what they want to see. So I enjoy how diverse and popular it is now. It also still feels like an extension of my country, the Dominican Republic.
Name a book that has had a lasting influence on you.
Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach. I first read it around the time I moved here, when I was about 18. But I don’t remember how I found it. I found it again at one of those book fairs where they sell books for a dollar about 10 or 15 years later, and I loved it even more. Probably because I grasped the meaning more. It’s this idea of discovering our potential, that the sky is the limit, that we can all be so much more if we just believe in ourselves. And that you shouldn’t be tied to the group; you should challenge yourself.
Who is the Fordham grad or professor you admire most?
Juan R. Avila, Ph.D., a math professor who used to run the bilingual program at PCS that I was in. His passion to help the Latin community by creating and running this program helped a lot of immigrants like me have access to a high-quality education. Without his initiative, I don’t think many of us would have had the chance to get a degree from a prestigious school like Fordham.