Dana Bochna SASN’08, SPAA’12 identifies as “in and of Newark.” In fact, since the day she set foot on the Rutgers University–Newark campus in 2004, she fell in love with the school and its community—so much so that she never left. Not only has she earned two degrees here, but she has also worked for Rutgers Business School–Newark and New Brunswick and today, she uses her strong ties to the university to support students and alumni interested in careers at her current workplace of Prudential Financial, also in Newark.
Bochna is always thinking about how Prudential and Rutgers can leverage their partnership to make an even greater impact—on one another and on the local community. Both institutions “are incredible economic drivers in the state of New Jersey,” she says. “We’re trying to think: How do we move the needle and elevate this strategic partnership to make a change and think about the future?”
That approach is representative of Rutgers’ commitment to cultivating a beloved community, wherein everyone involved with the university is embraced and uplifted. It is also a philosophy that has been threaded throughout Bochna’s life as a Scarlet Raider—and one she has used to embrace and advance the Newark community, too.
Getting her start in the liberal arts
When Bochna enrolled at Rutgers as an undergraduate, a career in business wasn’t on her mind. At the behest of a mentor who encouraged her to study something she loved, Bochna majored in Spanish and minored in international affairs. Those studies gave her the chance to spend a semester abroad in Costa Rica, an experience that inspired tremendous personal growth and positioned her for long-term career success. “I feel it developed me to be comfortable with the uncomfortable, stay agile, think on my feet, and be okay with making mistakes,” Bochna says.
Those critical thinking and learning abilities came in handy immediately after graduation, when Bochna took a part-time job working with the English as a Second Language program at La Casa de Don Pedro, a nonprofit that strives to empower underserved locals and revitalize Newark neighborhoods. She also accepted a role at Rutgers Business School’s Institute for Ethical Leadership, where she eventually became operations manager.
As a Rutgers employee, she was thrilled to find that she was “still part of this diverse community, still part of this school that I loved as a student. Having that access to such great wisdom made me the person that I am today.” It also allowed her to deepen her academic ties to Rutgers by earning her master of public administration (MPA) degree through the employee tuition program. Meanwhile, she further immersed herself in the Newark community, networking with area nonprofits on behalf of the university.
Connecting her favorite communities
A few years after earning her MPA, Bochna found herself wanting a shift to corporate work but reluctant to lose her ties to the university or the Newark community. She found the right fit at Prudential in early talent acquisition, recruiting students and recent graduates. “Recruiting is a space where you connect people to jobs,” she says. “You can really change people’s lives.”
What’s more, Bochna was delighted to learn that Rutgers had a strong presence at Prudential, which includes the alumni network Pru RU. “Being able to work at Prudential, which has that historic tie [to Rutgers]—it’s like my whole life became connected,” she says. “It kind of felt like I was just joining another extended family of Rutgers.”
Bochna, who now is a project manager in Prudential’s global technology office, where she leads early talent strategies across the function, has mentored students through Rutgers’ partnership with the BRAVEN program, and she’s heavily involved in Prudential’s partnership with Rutgers’ Honors Living-Learning Community. Both programs provide opportunities and support to students from groups that have been historically underrepresented and broaden academic pathways for promising talent.
“It’s important that we provide experiences where these students can grow, they can learn,” Bochna says. “Our networks can help launch these students forward, make sure they’re getting the right wisdom, getting the right access to leaders, getting in front of the right people to help broaden their horizons and excel where their dreams take them.”
From Bochna’s perspective, that’s so much of what the Rutgers community has always been about: working toward a greater tomorrow.
It’s important to get involved as an alumnus, says Bochna—whether that means tapping into the talent that’s being developed at Rutgers or helping create a better community and world. “I think it’s important more than ever to get involved so you can be part of that change,” she says. “Because that’s our future.”