Alliant alumnus, Dr. Bonifacio S. Munar, PhD, turned his education and military background into a rewarding career.
Thanks to his love and respect for education and the military, Dr. Bonifacio S. Munar, or Dr. “Bon” as he likes to be called, has found a way to serve both worlds during his professional career. Born and raised in the Philippines, Dr. Bon originally started his pre-medical education there with the dream of becoming a medical doctor. Thanks to his father’s service as a World War II Veteran in the United States Army in the Far East (USAFFE), Dr. Bon was able to immigrate to America under his father’s VA rights, privileges, and educational benefits. While this was a great opportunity, it did sever Dr. Bon’s medical education. “I believe I had only 20 U.S. dollars in my pocket when I arrived in this great nation, and I didn’t know what I was going to do. I had a comfortable life back home, but I thought to myself, O.K., this is America, you start from the very bottom. So, that's what I did. And because my father was a World War II Veteran, hero, and a Purple Heart Medal recipient, I also wanted to serve the country in that capacity.”
Dr. Bon spent many years in various shore and at-sea assignments as a Leading Chief Petty Officer, Senior Enlisted Leader in the Command Supply and Logistics Department in the United States Navy. After serving 24 years honorably in the military and retiring from this role, he worked at the University of Maryland as an educational counselor, providing help and guidance for active and retired military personnel who wanted to pursue higher education. His work took him to Navy, Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard bases throughout California from San Diego in Southern California to Le Moore in the northern part of the state.
With his love and passion for education, Dr. Bon continued taking college courses offered by the Navy during his active-duty years and found inspiration for his next career path from a professor who had a doctorate in psychology. “He asked me what my dream was, and I told him I wanted to be like him because the way he talked and the way he taught us opened my mind in a whole new and exciting way. He inspired me to seek greater heights and pursue my educational journey. Furthermore, I promised my parents that even though I was not a medical doctor back home, I was still going to achieve my dream of earning a doctorate degree.”
Dr. Bon’s journey to Alliant International University started while he was presenting at a San Diego Coast Guard base educational fair as a University of Maryland representative. As luck would have it, he was next to an Alliant educational representative who was also a former Navy Officer and told him about the PhD in leadership program at Alliant. With its unique integration of management, leadership, and psychology, the program felt like a great fit for Dr. Bon’s goals and interests. And, thanks to its weekend format, he was able to earn his doctorate while keeping his full-time job at the University of Maryland. “It takes dedication, commitment, and sincerity to pursue this endeavor. We would start on Friday at 4:00 p.m. my time, and then full days on Saturday and Sunday until I finished the program which took me six years to complete.”
Of course, he didn’t expect the PhD program to be easy, but he found support from his peers and his family. “You bond and get to know people from all over the world because it is an international environment at Alliant. When we started there were 35 of us in that room with different backgrounds and professions. Eventually, we ended up with seven who graduated the “Lucky Seven”. There were many obstacles, but through hard work, discipline, perseverance, and time, I got through them. I did not quit!” Dr. Bon also credits his professors at Alliant who challenged and helped him to further develop in the program. He appreciated Dr. Saba Oyzurt, PhD, for her unwavering direction and relentless guidance during his entire dissertation stage, and Dr. Rene Naert, PhD, who patiently oversaw his dissertation defense. “Without them, I would not have succeeded in achieving one of my American dreams.”
After earning his PhD in 2017, Dr. Bon wanted to go back into the educational field as a professor, but life had other plans for him. His current role as a Veterans Service Representative lets him use his education, experience, leadership, and management skills to help a population that is deeply personal to him. “I'm not teaching, but because of what I studied at Alliant in their leadership program, I bring teaching skills to this role in a subtle way. I spend a lot of time talking to Veterans and helping them get the compensation they so greatly need.” He also shares a lot of leadership support with his community charitable organization and his church and wants to keep making a huge impact both as a community leader and a leader for the Veterans he serves. “I want to make an impact through education, and I want to take care of these Veterans in the best way I can and hopefully make their lives easier because I'm a Veteran too. I know what they feel. I know what they see. I believe that's the reason why I was rightfully chosen for this job.”