Student success honored: Fresno State student wins Entrepreneur of the Year

Fresno State student Roe Borundachats with attendees at the Valley Business Awards on Thursday. Borunda was named the 2014 College Entrepreneur of the Year. Photo by Matt Vieira/The Collegian
Fresno State student Roe Borundachats with attendees at the Valley Business Awards on Thursday. Borunda was named the 2014 College Entrepreneur of the Year. Photo by Matt Vieira/The Collegian

Fresno State student Roe Borundachats with attendees at the Valley Business Awards on Thursday. Borunda was named the 2014 College Entrepreneur of the Year. Photo by Matt Vieira/The Collegian

As a child growing up in Southeast Fresno, Roe Borunda never envisioned herself this far.

“I grew up having a roller-coaster lifestyle,” she said. “It was always hard for myself to understand what down time was because I always had to keep on moving.

“It is just something that was embedded in my DNA.”

Today, Borunda is an intern with artist Joseph DeLappe, a photo editor for USA Today Sports and runs Roetography, a photography company that earned her the College Entrepreneur of the Year Award from the Greater Fresno Area Chamber of Commerce. From 2012-13, she was the photo editor of The Collegian, where she won a California College Media Award for sports photography.

And this is all while being a full-time student at Fresno State.

She is a double major and will be graduating in May with a bachelor’s degree in art and mass communication and journalism.

She only needs one course to graduate. However, she is taking various other courses to take advantage of her last year and “extend her education.”

The senior’s 18 units consist of a women’s studies course and a variety of art and photography classes.

For DeLappe, she is a production assistant for an art piece that will be installed on the Fresno State campus.

“I’m kind of facilitating the whole reconstruction of his work that is going to be here on campus in late March,” Borunda said.

From a hobby to a profession

When asked how she manages to balance everything, Borunda went back to her childhood to find the answer.

She was born and raised in Fresno. After graduating from high school, she moved to Long Beach to attend Long Beach City College. Upon receiving her associate’s degree, she decided to come back to the area and finish her schooling at Fresno State.

She established Roetography back in February 2012. The company took flight when her friends noticed that she had a passion for taking photos and encouraged her to form her own business.

“I was always the friend that had the camera whether it was the disposable camera back in the ‘90s or the latest digital point-and-shoot,” Borunda said. “I was always photographing everyone. I was never really good, but [taking pictures] was fun and I truly believe that photographs are our future’s memories.”

Once she noticed that she had the talent to back it up, she decided to take the steps necessary to start up her own company.

However, Borunda said at one point in her life she was considering giving up on her dreams of becoming a photographer. Instead, she didn’t believe it could become a business, because she only saw it as a hobby.

“At times it was discouraging,” she said, “because I would think ‘I am putting all my eggs in one basket and what if they break?’”

But it was her support group that inspired her to go on. She gives “two thumbs up” to her professors for the time, support and guidance they have provided for her throughout her journey.

Her major influence is Fresno State photographer Cary Edmondson. He not only works for Fresno State, but has also done work for top-tier news organizations such as ESPN the Magazine, Sports Illustrated, Maxim and USA Today Sports.

“He was somebody I felt like I could really connect with because he knew a lot about the field and was able to teach me things that I didn’t know I needed to be taught,” Borunda said. “He was definitely a big influence.”

Another of her major influences is Johnny Earle, a young entrepreneur who runs Johnny Cupcakes, a clothing company based on the East Coast since 2001. He is also considered one of the top entrepreneurs in the country.

“He creates this whole unique experience with his clothing brand,” she said. “He makes me want to strive [to do big things].”

The road ahead

After graduation, Borunda hopes to continue her photography career with USA Today Sports.

“The beautiful thing about USA Today Sports is that I can be anywhere in the world and still work for them, which is awesome,” she said.

She also plans on continue her education beyond a bachelor’s degree. A Masters in Fine Arts is what she hopes to work toward in the near future.

“I feel like my next challenge is going to be fashion and advertising commercial photography,” she said.

Photography is not Borunda’s only passion. Another goal she has is to travel the globe and explore the world “one day at a time.”

And for any student looking to be successful, Borunda’s piece of advice is to network.

“The biggest network is the professors and faculty because those are the people that have experience,” she said. “They may not tell you what you want to hear, but take what their experiences have been and keep it in the back of your mind.

“Take full advantage of your education.”

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