Alejandra Bonilla '21: 'I have a voice and I can use it. I feel like I have to'

Alejandra BonillaPhoto/Mike Lovett

Alejandra Bonilla

Alejandra Bonilla doesn't like the feeling of sitting still. It makes her think of what she could be doing to help communities in need of support.

"I feel a responsibility. Big time," Bonilla said. "I feel guilty watching Netflix for hours knowing I could be doing something. I have family members and friends who are immigrants. Not everyone feels safe to speak out for themselves right now. I'm young, I'm bilingual, I have a voice and I can use it. I feel like I have to. Almost all my free time involves immigration."

She makes a difference by working for The Right to Immigration Institute and WATCH CDC, volunteering for Cosecha Massachusetts and attending numerous rallies and protests.

The anthropology, international global studies and Latin American and Latino studies triple-major from San Jose, California took some time to answer questions with BrandeisNow:

Why does Brandeis fit you?

When I came to visit Brandeis everyone was super nice to me and welcoming. The environment was just very homey. Boston is so close and there are so many opportunities to get involved in causes in the city, and I found friends who care about the same things I care about and want to get involved as much as I do. I had never had that kind of friend group before. I'm happy here and I wouldn't have wanted it any other way.

What is your proudest accomplishment outside the classroom?

Making my mother proud by becoming a first generation college student. She spends many sleepless nights at work to get me this far, and everything I do is because of her and my siblings. I am the oldest of five and all my siblings are still working toward college. I want to set an example for them. I feel so privileged and proud to be on this campus.

Who is your favorite professor or instructor?

Daniel Breen. He's the best, he's just so great. I've had him for three classes, but it's about more than class. We make lunch plans to meet at the Faculty Club to catch up. He's just so dedicated to his students. He's always willing to listen and to help. During exams I was going through a lot at home. My family was dealing with a personal issue and I didn't really know how I could help. So I asked Professor Breen, and he went above and beyond by doing some research and finding some contacts for me in California. I feel like he's willing to be there for all his students.

How do you describe Brandeis to family and friends back home?

As a place where people are busy and care about social justice, but in an environment that is very calm. I have cousins who go to big schools that are all about parties and going to games. We don't have that here. Instead, people are looking to get involved and become activists.

Categories: Humanities and Social Sciences, Student Life

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