Veteran Mario Bonilla ’14 hopes to someday work for an intelligence agency like INTERPOL, which made the homeland security program at Campbell an ideal fit for him.
A former medic, Mario Bonilla was first deployed in 2004. Although working in the medical field, he was based with an infantry unit that was intelligence based. “That really caught my interest more than the medical field,” he said.
Upon his return from deployment, Bonilla tried to change his job to something relating to the intelligence field, but with a limited number of medics, he was not allowed. So he decided to head to college and work toward a criminal justice degree. He began his studies at a community college and transferred to Campbell University in the fall of 2012.
Bonilla started in the criminal justice program at Campbell, but when he heard about the university’s homeland security program, he switched majors, realizing it aligned more with his interests. And though he studied homeland security, he didn’t quite abandon his background in the field of medicine.
While attending school, he worked in a Fayetteville hospital full time. “My boss has been very accommodating,” he said. “It’s just a matter of rearranging my schedule. It’s time management. I work nights and on the weekends; there’s always something to do at the hospital.”
Juggling a full-time job and completing an undergraduate degree in just two years presented challenges, but there’s no doubt the experience was rewarding and has prepared him for what’s next, said Bonilla, who graduated May 10 with a Bachelor of Science in Homeland Security degree.
Next he'll move to England to enhance his undergraduate degree. There, he’ll complete a graduate degree in intelligence and security studies. Bonilla defines the degree as being “focused on intelligence analysis and the analysis of different policies.” The course is sixteen months long, beginning in September 2014 and ending in December 2015.
From there, Bonilla is looking into potential opportunities with INTERPOL, as well as at an embassy. “I love traveling,” he said, “plus I wouldn’t mind living and working abroad.” These interests make his homeland security degree ideal, he added. -- Rachel Davis