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MCCC Is First Rung on Ladder That Leads to Video Production at Princeton for Alumnus Nick Donnoli

1/5/18



Nick Donnoli ('08) is a multimedia specialist at Princeton University.

As an MCCC student, Donnoli, seated at left, was already earning recognition for his work -- including a 2008 Telly Award in the documentary film category for a Mercer Street Friends video he produced with fellow student Sam Kanig. They are pictured with, back row, from left, Television faculty members Barry Levy and Steve Voorhees, then MSF Communications Director Janina Akins and Executive Director Barry Cole.

West Windsor, N.J. – Nick Donnoli ’08 (A.A.S., Television), of Hamilton, is clearly a smart guy. He graduated from Nottingham High School in 2006 with an NJ STARS scholarship, which provides free tuition for the first two years of community college to those who graduate in the top 15 percent of their class.

Attending an open house at Mercer County Community College (MCCC) with his mom confirmed Donnoli’s decision to take advantage of the NJ STARS program. “I felt that Mercer’s programs would not only prepare me for the future, but were also current with the latest trends and technologies,” he said.

Fast forward to 2018 and Donnoli is immersed in the communications world at Princeton University as a multimedia specialist, helping to tell Princeton’s stories to an international audience – stories of student and faculty achievements in research, service, and innovation. Working independently and collaboratively with departments across campus, he manages documentary film and photography projects from creation to completion, and then works with the digital content manager to review analytics that assess viewer engagement, the ultimate measure of a project’s success.

Donnoli’s path to Princeton has been lined with a lot of hard work and business acumen. And, he is happy to say that it began at MCCC. His two Television Program professors, Barry Levy and Steve Voorhees, earn especially high marks.

“Their enthusiasm, kindness, encouragement, respect for others, and willingness to provide students with the best learning environment had a very positive impact on my college and career success,” Donnoli maintains, noting that each had his specialty that provided a well-balanced view of the film and television industry.

He observes that both instructors were dedicated to advancements in the field and the continuance of their own education. “This makes them consummate mentors, teachers, and professionals,” said Donnoli, who remains in regular contact with Levy and Voorhees and still values their feedback.
 
Donnoli recalls two other faculty members who added to his success. “Professor Mitch Cantor [Radio] always wanted to see his students achieve to their potential. He provided me with a strong sense of self-confidence and vocal presence that I valued throughout my college career and beyond,” he said.

Donnoli also singles out Professor Craig Coenen (History). “Professor Coenen was a tough grader, but his teaching style and respect for his students’ perspectives was truly motivating. He helped me develop better academic discipline, which added to my success right up through earning my master’s degree.”

While at MCCC, Donnoli made the most of his opportunities, working as a radio lab monitor and as a producer for MCTV 26, the student television station. He also hosted an afternoon radio spot on the student radio station. 

He recalls his experience with MCTV as especially valuable. “I developed managerial skills and worked to create a professional and functional work environment,” he said. During his time with the station, Donnoli and his classmates were nationally recognized for their video production achievements through the Telly Awards competition. 

After MCCC, Donnoli transferred to The College of New Jersey, completing his bachelor’s degree in Communications-Radio/TV/Film, with a minor in Business Management, in December 2010.

Equipped with the talent and self-confidence nurtured at MCCC, Donnoli pursued jobs in New York City for several years, where he worked on narrative feature film sets, documentary sets and in film production offices, most often with Lonely Leap, AD Pictures, and WheelHouse NYC.

Then he decided to launch his own business, Nick Donnoli Productions LLC, specializing in web-based documentary-style marketing videos. He worked with a variety of corporate and nonprofit clients, including assignments for Princeton.

Donnoli’s largest early contract, one that he still maintains, was for Princeton University Athletics/Football. He works directly with Princeton’s Athletic Communications and Marketing staff and a crew of seven freelance workers, producing weekly highlight reels with a 24-hour turnaround and direct live in-game entertainment and advertising using broadcast equipment to display on the stadium’s video board.

In 2014, Donnoli's connection to Princeton turned into a part-time job as a content producer and editor in the Broadcast Center. His responsibilities included filming multi-camera live productions, symposiums, awards ceremonies, guest speakers on campus, panel discussions and lectures. Two years later, he became a full-time communications staff member.

Inspired by the environment at Princeton, as well as his Mercer mentors, Levy and Voorhees, Donnoli decided to pursue his master’s degree. In August, he graduated from Purdue University with a Master’s of Education in Learning Design and Technology, completing the online program part-time with a perfect 4.0.

“My experiences at MCCC shaped the skills, knowledge and instincts that I use today. The Television program allowed me to embrace my talents, learn from my mistakes, interact with real-world clients, and work with the latest technology. Those experiences gave me an advantage throughout my college career and prepared me for my profession in a way that many other academic institutions couldn’t have,” Donnoli stresses.

Donnoli believes that academic and professional challenges become less daunting through persistence and a positive attitude. “Listen to others and be open to diverse viewpoints. Collaboration and relationship building usually lead to a stronger final product. There is always going to be that one professor or client who gives you a hard time. Try to find the positive angle from the experience and come out with a new perspective.”

More Alumni Success Stories

Television/Radio Program Curriculum

MCTV YouTube Channel

MCCC Alumni and Friends

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