NYU Recipients React to Making Forbes’ 30 Under 30 List

Nineteen NYU community members made the list this year.

Victor Porcelli
Graphic by Rachel Buigas-Lopez

Forbes released its annual 30 Under 30 list on Tuesday, with NYU tied as the sixth-most represented school at a total of 19 NYU community members who made the list.

With lists for over 20 industries, a total of 660 young people were named as making headway and innovating in their respective fields. WSN spoke with a number of the NYU-affiliated listmakers.

Corey Camperchioli, 29
Hollywood and Entertainment

Corey Camperchioli graduated from the Tisch School of the Arts in 2012 and went on to write, produce and star in a short film called “FEMME” about being an effeminate man in modern society. Rachel Brosnahan, a fellow NYU alumna who was also named to the list and won an Emmy for her role in “The Marvelous Mrs. Maise,” served as executive producer for “FEMME.”

When he got a text from his friend congratulating him for making the list, Camperchioli said he immediately starting screaming and texted Brosnahan soon after.

“To be next to her on the list was so special to me, thinking back to our days at NYU,” Camperchioli said. “It was like we had come full circle.”

For Camperchioli, being named means a lot, as it will allow him to better spread his message, which he told WSN is “to love yourself, no matter who you are.” As a member of the LGBTQ community, Camperchioli said making the list has greater significance.

“For me, I think it’s a lot about visibility,” Camperchioli said. “It’s special to me to be an openly gay and queer person on that list. A kid might look at the list and think ‘I’m queer too, and someday I can be on that list too.’”

Jon Chang, 29
Marketing and Advertising

An Adjunct Marketing Instructor at the School of Professional Studies, Jon Chang is a global product marketer at IBM Watson, speaker and mentor to entrepreneurs and their start-ups.

Chang found out he was on the list when his phone was bombarded by texts while he was walking his dog. Once he found out he had been named to the list, it took a while to sink in.

“For me, I have a hard time getting past the imposter syndrome, but [being named] is very much a validation,” Chang said.

Chang said that many people on the list see it as an opportunity to network with other high-profile members of their field. However, he believes networking is positive only if it’s about sharing one’s passion with others.

“I’m not super into the traditional definition of networking where you just walk around and hand out business cards, so it ends up being a little obnoxious,” Chang said. “What I like instead are people that truly want to make the world a better place and to help other people out.”

Riley Jones IV, 27
Social Entrepreneurs

Riley Jones is an NYU Law School doctoral student. Three years ago, he co-founded a company called Bloc, which seeks to aid people of color in their job searches by using artificial intelligence to optimize their resumes. With studies showing that minority applicants are offered fewer interviews when they make references to their race in resumes, Bloc is a potentially useful tool for people of color entering the job market.

Jones also said he was surprised when he found out he was named.

“I wasn’t expecting it to be just three years into the company, and it definitely serves as validation of our work,” Jones said.

Being named to the list isn’t just important for Jones, it’s important for his family.

“I have family in Chicago that are dealing with real problems I don’t have to deal with since I’m in New York City,” Jones said. “And when those people, who’ve seen me grow up every step of the way, see that I’m on that list, it gives them hope.”

Michael Dempsey, 28
Venture Capital

A partner of the venture capital firm Compound, Michael Dempsey attended the Stern School of Business from 2010 to 2011. As a student, Dempsey said he was never interested in school. He enjoyed that NYU allows students to leverage the industry advantages New York City offers, but he knew from the start that he would have to graduate early if he would graduate at all — he always felt a calling to simply begin working.

After working 30 to 40 hours a week while attending NYU, Dempsey now finds incredible entrepreneurs and invests in them. He focuses on “post-science project emerging technologies,” and always tries to invest in the right people — although he said he won’t know if he’s right until years later, a reason he feels little validation from being named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30.

“[My] initial reaction was like, it’s cool to get recognition, but it’s honestly not really material to my job,” Dempsey said. “In venture, our timeline is seven to 10 years plus.”

Because he will be waiting a few more years until he can know if he is good at his job, Dempsey finds that Forbes fails to provide him with real satisfaction.

“Being on a list like Forbes helps elevate your profile,” Dempsey said. “But it doesn’t make me seem any smarter. It doesn’t show that I’m any more intelligent about a specific topic, it just gives me some recognition.”

Michael D. Ratner, 29
Hollywood and Entertainment

Michael D. Ratner, a member of the Tisch Class of 2014, founded OBB Pictures in 2010. The company produces both scripted and unscripted content for various media platforms. Ratner also served as the executive producer of the web series “Cold as Balls” with Kevin Hart.

Being named to Forbes’ list was not as big for his company as being named to other industry lists, such as Variety’s Hollywood’s New Leaders, to which Ratner was named in 2018. However, he said the ability to meet new people doing great work in other fields was exciting for him.

“Hollywood crosses over with other industries, and so meeting new people is both valuable and intriguing,” Ratner said.

Ratner said his appearance on Forbes’ list has only served to fuel him toward greater future success.

“It’s motivation to keep doing good work,” Ratner said. “You don’t want the first 30 years of your life to be your best.”

A version of this article appeared on the Monday, Nov. 19 print edition. Email Victor Porcelli at [email protected]

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