To the stars: Bonafede leaves for aerospace


Theresa Bonafede

Theresa Bonafede posing inside a wind tunnel at San Diego State in 1992.

Natasha Phanthavong, News Feature Editor

After high school, library technician Theresa Bonafede found her interest unexpectedly while attending community college as an undecided major.  Encountering a friend who had taken an Aerospace Engineering course, Bonafede became intrigued with the aspects of space, physics, and science.
While embarking on a four-year journey of tears, math, and challenges, Bonafede graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Aerospace Engineering at San Diego State University.
“It wasn’t all easy; there were even classes I had to retake . . . but there came a point where I had an epiphany and got past the math to the other side, and it was very rewarding,” Bonafede said.
Straight out of school, Bonafede took on her ideal job that required her to put her mind to work, to calculate the performance of an aircraft with no help from a computer. Gaining confidence in her skill and craft, Bonafede began venturing into earning an Additive Manufacturing Certificate in 3D printing. But all of this came to a halt when Bonafede quit her job to care for her four children.
During this time, Bonafede found work at Poway High as the library technician and helped bring the library to life alongside Librarian Lisa Gore.
Gore appreciates her “friendship and guidance and for being a strong female role model for myself and the PHS staff and students,’’ Gore said.
Bonafede remembers her time as an extension of her learning experience, through keeping up to date with the newest software updates and learning from students the importance of continuing to educate oneself.
Bonafede was not quite ready to part with her time and effort spent on her love of Aerospace Engineering and found her drive resparked as her kids grew up.
“I’ve met so many people, especially women, who had STEM careers and gave it up willingly, and I feel like it’s inspiring for me to go back after 28 years,” Bonafede said.
Starting from scratch, Bonafede knew that the process would not be easy and went through another four years of getting back into rocket science.
Through virtual conferences and networking, Bonafede is returning to an aerospace corporation and is thrilled to get to work with people all over the country. Bonafede gained extra support from her son, who obtained a job at SPACEX and continued in her footsteps.
From the PHS library to an aerospace corporation, Bonafede’s story shows it is never too late to follow your dreams.