Alumni Spotlight: Jonathan Aponte

Friday, November 18, 2022
Written by: Laura D. Schumacher

Name: Jonathan Aponte

Title and Company: Owner, Aponte Studios, LLC

Area of Study at Seminole State: Associate in Arts (2001); Architecture, Design and Construction Associate in Science (2006); web design classes (2010)

What factors played into you deciding to attend Seminole State College? It was the easy choice really. I lived in Lake Mary almost my whole life. Seminole State was so close to Lake Mary High School, it was an easy transition since it was basically right down the street, and it was relatively inexpensive. In high school, I took a lot of architecture classes and was very into photography and art. I was able to go to Seminole State on an art scholarship, but I told myself that I wasn’t going to be a starving artist and went the safer route, which was architecture. I got an A.A. [Associate in Arts] from Seminole State and then went to get my bachelor’s from FIU in Miami. I attended FIU for architecture, but unfortunately, they changed the program quickly after I started to make it more exclusive. Additionally, the course schedule was very restrictive, so I made the decision to come back to Orlando to take the Associate in Science [A.S.] in Architecture, Design and Construction from Seminole State. Later, I knew the value of the education I had received from Seminole State and took additional classes in web design and programming to create a better website when I was first starting my business.

Jonathan Aponte standing outside with his cameras
Jonathan Aponte turned his passion
for photography into his business,
Aponte Studios.

What were your steps after leaving Seminole State? Despite not being able to get my bachelor’s degree, I applied and got a good job at HuntonBrady Architects in 2005. The job was excellent, and I learned a lot from my time there, but my passion has always been art and photography. I was able to do HuntonBrady’s photography for their website and marketing material. After the market crash in 2008, I turned my passion for photography into my own business and used a difficult time to my advantage. The crash was definitely a blessing in disguise, and thankfully I didn’t become a starving artist like I had feared! When I first started Aponte Studios, I wanted to do it all: photography, videography, graphic design and web programming. Now, I’ve focused my efforts on photography. The Chamber of Commerce started to hire my company in 2011, and that was a jumping off point for me getting larger events and working with nonprofits and expos. I do a little bit of everything when it comes to photography, but focus on projects like: quinceañeras, weddings, educational events and nonprofit events.  My favorite things to shoot are weddings, because you get a lot of genuine emotion and can capture that. I have the opportunity to work with Seminole State, and to be able to work with the school that I graduated from is always really cool. Every time I step onto the [Sanford/]Lake Mary Campus, I remember the good times I had there.

How did your education/time spent at Seminole State help prepare you for where you are now? Seminole State prepared me for real-world experiences. the other schools I went to were more avant-garde, while Seminole State really focused on what I would actually use. That really helped with my HuntonBrady architecture job. My website classes allowed me to create a better website for Aponte Studios and made it into a brand-new website. I also started a Facebook page for my photography even before all the business profiles started being on the app.

Who or what class was your greatest influence at Seminole State College? Professor Tony Ruggiero was so critical and knowledgeable for Computer [Aided Design] (CAD). When I interviewed with HuntonBrady, I was very efficient with AutoCAD. I got hired and had very little experience, but I was able to work quickly and produce documents needed for jobs. That’s 100 percent thanks to Seminole State. The core essentials for what I needed to get through that job, was all Seminole State. Then when I came back later, I took the web design and programming classes with Les Lusk. Those classes allowed me to support my business through services that I provided for a while, but also how to promote my own business.

Professionally and/or academically, of what are you most proud? I was a part of the Design and Construction Architectural Documents of the hospital in downtown Orlando, the one with the lipstick-shape tower, and in Ormond Beach, “J. Aponte” is on the construction documents. It is fun to be able to point that out to my parents. My photography studio is what I am most proud of though – that is something that is all mine, as opposed to a team of people working on an architectural project. Aponte Studios has given me the opportunity to travel all over for work. I’ve been to the Bahamas, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Cancun, Long Island and North Carolina, just to name a few!

What do you like to do for fun? I like to road course and autocross race throughout the Southeast U.S. with my Celica GTS, video gaming, and attend nerdy conventions like MegaCon.

What advice do you have for current or prospective Seminole State students? I don’t come from money and didn’t really have the option of going straight into a large university right out of high school. I definitely would recommend coming to Seminole State for an A.A. or A.S. to help you get used to the transition out of high school. It truly helps you figure out what direction you should take. Advancing your learning through higher education will definitely help put you on a path for your future.

Anything else you’d like to add? My wife and parents are my number one fans.  They supported me from the very start when I had nothing and helped me get to where I am.

Jonathan and his wife, Christine
Jonathan says his wife, Christine, and his parents are his biggest fans.

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