Jonathan Hanwit ’96
“Radford University provided me the opportunity to develop relationships with many people and left me with a countless number of memorable experiences,” said Jonathan Hanwit ’96, CEO at thinkPARALLAX, a sustainability focused communication agency based out of California.
In 1992, Hanwit graduated from Cox High School in Virginia Beach. He enrolled at Radford University with the original intent to transfer after his first semester. But, later, Hanwit decided to stay.
“The education and rich experiences are what drove me to stay at Radford University,” said Hanwit.
Hanwit was indecisive when it came to declaring his major. One side of Hanwit’s family was heavily involved in social work, whereas the other side was highly business oriented.
“First and foremost, I knew that I wanted to make a positive impact on society with my life. I have also always loved trying to understand people and what makes them tick. So I became a criminal justice major with a minor in psychology.”
Hanwit wanted to counsel at-risk youths and help get them back on their feet. “I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to be a counselor at a children’s home in Salem my senior year at Radford University,” Hanwit added.
Hanwit graduated and immediately met up with his friends and moved to Encinitas, California. There he worked as a teacher at a school for children with disabilities and at a marketing agency as a sales representative.
“After working in two completely different fields I realized, based on my personality and interests, sales and marketing are a much better fit for my personality. At the end of the day, I like people, talking to people, getting to know people and explaining things. When I can understand a person’s need and help them with something that answers that need, that’s when I’m happiest,” Hanwit said.
Hanwit also had a passion for traveling.
“I picked up everything I had in California, flew to Australia and began my journey.”
For three months Hanwit hitchhiked from the southern coast to the northern coast of Australia. He traveled through Southeast Asia and China for six months. He then took a train across Russia and through Eastern Europe. In Europe, Hanwit worked with a movie production crew as an actor for a movie that was being filmed in Holland. While living in Holland, he met a woman who later became his wife. After a year and a half in Holland, Hanwit moved back to California with his wife.
While he was traveling abroad, Hanwit found it easy to communicate with various types of people. “Radford University molded me into an adaptable communicator,” Hanwit said. “I am now confident in different social situations with various types of personalities.”
Immediately after returning to California, Hanwit landed a job at a non-profit organization as a marketing manager, helping find work for adults with disabilities. “Working at a non-profit was the perfect crossover between my experience as a disabilities teacher and my marketing sales job.”
After working with the non-profit company for three years, Hanwit and his wife decided to intertwine their skills and establish their own purpose driven communications agency, thinkPARALLAX. “My wife is a graphic designer who handles the creative approach, while I handle the business aspect of the agency.”
As an organization, thinkPARALLAX is focused on working with clients and on projects that are making a positive impact on society. “We work at the intersection of business strategy, sustainability and communication,” Hanwit said.
“When you own your own business,” he continued, “you have your hands in everything and it is a never-ending learning experience. I’m now able to apply my skills that I had been exposed to in my travels, previous jobs and my studies from Radford University.”
When asked what advice Hanwit had for current Radford University students, he pulled from his own experiences. “Before you set your sight on one specific field, meet as many people as possible, and take different types of classes. If not, you may never know what you are truly passionate about.
“Follow what you are passionate about and do not worry about how you are going to make money. Eventually the money will come to you.”