Alumnus Continues to Pursue Social Justice Passion
When Antonio Bonnetty ’19 started at Chaminade University, he wasn’t even sure if college was for him.
By the time he graduated, he was inspired to head to law school.
And in Spring 2022, the new dad—married to fellow Silversword Maria Weisser ’19—graduated from the Thomas R. Kline School of Law at Duquesne University. In short order, he passed the Pennsylvania bar and was accepted into the prestigious U.S. Army Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps.
It’s an impressive trajectory—that he never would have imagined for himself before starting at Chaminade. “When I was graduating from high school, I didn’t have all my ducks in a row,” he said. “But Chaminade prepared me for adjustments later in life. It took me a little bit to get there, but I did.”
Growing up, Bonnetty moved around a lot as a “military brat,” and graduated from Moanalua High.
He decided to apply to Chaminade after a friend told him about the university. Bonnetty says he was intrigued by the idea of smaller class sizes and strong relationships with mentors. And it didn’t take long for him to realize he’d made the right decision: he joined the cross country team and student government, eventually becoming president, and was also active in campus ministry.
What he appreciated most about Chaminade, he said, was the strong connections to the community.
He said that he’s still moved when he thinks about a service learning project he participated in as a freshman in which he joined with other students to provide meals at homeless shelters. “When you’re homeless, there’s such a stigma. But for the overwhelming majority, it’s just bad luck and cards,” Bonnetty said, adding that message resonates with him as he begins his law career.
“The government as it stands can do a lot better to support people like that,” he said.
Bonnetty said he also grew his confidence at Chaminade—as he took on new challenges with the support of his professors. His interest in the justice system drove him to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice degree. He also double majored in Environmental Studies because of a personal passion for gardening and the outdoors. It was a perfect combination, he said.
“It was a culmination of different things in my life,” he said.
And it led him to his future career: law. At Chaminade, he said, several professors encouraged him to consider law school and underscored its value to projects of social justice. “I see such great opportunities in law to change policies and help improve people’s lives,” he said.
Also at Chaminade, he met his future wife—on day one of a student retreat for freshmen.
They started dating as sophomores, married after graduation and soon, they’re hoping their story together will come full circle: by baptizing their first baby at Chaminade. “For both of us, Chaminade was just a big part of our lives and our lives together,” Bonnetty said. “There are so many good memories.”
Bonnetty said he also decided to attend Duquesne University, rather than the University of Pennsylvania, because of his experience at Chaminade. “It just seemed similar to Chaminade; the people were so nice and the vibe was perfect,” he said. “It immediately felt like home.”
Looking to the future, Bonnetty said he’s honored to serve with JAG.
Before graduating from high school, Bonnetty said he had actually applied to every branch of the military but was denied for all of them because of a medical condition. “At the time, I was discouraged. But it turned out to be the best thing that could have happened. I got into Chaminade and got a chance to really thrive,” he said, adding he is looking forward to serving his country in a different capacity.
“After learning I might be considered for JAG, I applied and got in,” he said.
Now he’s gearing up for what’s next—at work and at home.
He recently took to Facebook to announce he’d gotten a letter in the mail officially confirming his admission to the Pennsylvania bar. The notification, he said, “cemented trust in myself” and had him giving thanks to the people who have supported him through good days and tough ones. He expressed gratitude to his wife and extended family, to his newborn baby “for being my purpose,” and to his professors. “I am so thankful,” he wrote, “for all the help I had along this journey.”