When 17-year-old Felipe Tognarelli arrived in the United States from Chile with his wife and two kids in 2009, he never dreamed he’d be in the position he’s in now. Tognarelli started out in a job handing out fliers in Queens and has worked his way up to IT Tech at the Fox News Channel and recently graduated from the network’s prestigious Ailes Apprentice Program.
“When I was selected to the program in 2013 I felt like the luckiest person alive. It changed my life,” said Tognarelli. “I started as out as an immigrant working a tough, grueling job and five years later I’m working for one of the biggest cable news companies in the country.”
He said that he’d been working for the channel for 18 months before being picked for the internship program, along with three other deserving co-workers.
“The program picks people from the company from all backgrounds and I was lucky enough to be called on,” he said. “This past year was actually very special because it was the tenth anniversary of the program.”
Roger Ailes, president of Fox News Channel, started the apprentice program in 2003. According to the website, it is an exclusive education program that promotes diversity within broadcast and cable journalism. The twelve month program includes a full time job, competitive salary and full benefits.
“It was an incredible learning opportunity for me,” Tognarelli said. “I met incredible and successful people that I knew were there for me to answer all my questions. The professional, personal and cultural experiences are priceless.”
In the program, Tognarelli said that he gained technical experience, including setting up the computer and hardware for news presentations and seminars.
“I will take everything I learned and take it to develop my career and I am sure this will take my profession to a different level,” he said.
It has been a whirlwind of excitement for Tognarelli since he arrived in the U.S. in 2009, but his journey had its share of ups and downs. Four months into the program, the native-born Chilean developed cancer and had to take time off for his treatment at North Shore LIJ Hospital.
“Everything was going amazingly well until I somehow started my own apprenticeship with a teacher called cancer,” said Tognarelli. “I didn’t let the fear stand in the way of my dreams. I fought my fears and knew it was going to be temporary and that I’d come out stronger for it.”
He said that he kept his thoughts positive while he went through his treatment at the hospital because by being positive, he was shaping his future and seeing himself vibrant and healthy.
He was able to come back towards the tail end of the program and participated in the recent graduation ceremony.
“Every obstacle in life is a new opportunity to learn and grow, it’s just a matter of perception,” said Tognarelli. “So now that I’m back and cancer free I will use the key given to me by Mr. Roger Ailes to open the doors of the future and give my kids the life I never had. That’s the reason why I came to America.”