Published 05/05/15

Jillian Bonafede '15: Gaining confidence through campus engagement

Majors:  Actuarial Mathematics, Literary and Cultural Studies
Minors: Finance and Business Administration
Hometown: West Windsor, NJ
Path: Benefit analyst for global health service company Cigna

Jilliain BonafedeDuring the college application process, Jillian Bonafede admitted to being “totally lost; I had no idea where I wanted to go, what I wanted to study, who I wanted to be.” By chance, her mother discovered Bryant. The University’s ambience, student engagement, and campus offerings captivated Bonafede, even on her first visit.

“Not many college students can say that they have had an effect on their entire student body."

This shy and tentative first-year student blossomed into an international traveler and an active contributor to campus life. “I didn’t know if I would ever be able to travel to Southeast Asia,” said Bonafede, so visiting Singapore and Malaysia with the Sophomore International Experience was an opportunity of a lifetime.

A member of Sigma Tau Delta, the international English Honor Society, and Omicron Delta Kappa (ODK), a national leadership honor society, Bonafede was frequently on the Dean’s List, and served as treasurer of The Archway, Bryant’s student newspaper.

As a head resident assistant – Bonafede’s favorite campus engagement – she developed key leadership skills – effective time management, event planning, and adhering to her moral compass even in difficult situations. The University’s size allowed her to build very close relationships with students and professional staff members.

Through ODK, Bonafede served as a mentor for the IDEA Program, the transformative design-thinking, innovation and ideation program for first-year students. And, because the Bryant community is tight-knit, programs that organizations like ODK sponsor impact the entire campus. “Not many college students can say that they have had an effect on their entire student body," she noted.

Bryant’s integration of business and liberal arts helped Bonafede develop into a more well-rounded student and person. “It is one thing to be able to analyze a set of data and know what it means,” she said, “but it is something completely different to be able to communicate with others why it is relevant and why they should care.”

Bonafede, who finds as much joy in “crunching numbers” as she does in explaining the theories behind her research, will begin her professional career as a benefit analyst in Philadelphia, working for Cigna.