Originally from Los Angeles, Sista Jakelin “Jaki” Bonilla grew up in Siler City, North Carolina. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in May 2012 with a major in Global Studies and a minor in Entrepreneurship. At UNC, she founded Linking Immigrants to New Communities (LINC), which helps ease the transition of recent immigrants through student interaction and awareness-raising in the community. She served on the UNC Emerging Communities Taskforce that established the Carolina Latina/o Collaborative, dedicated to developing a greater awareness of Latina/o issues, cultures, and identities.
Jakelin also conducted ethnographic research and volunteered in Central and South America, served as co-chair of the Great Decisions Program, mentored in the Scholars Latino Initiative, and worked as a Senior Intern in the Bonners Leaders Program at the Campus Y. After graduating from UNC, she served as the director of the Campus Y’s Global Gap Year Fellowship from 2012-2015.
How do you identify yourself?
I am a Latina, Woman, 1st Generation College Student, Low-Income Background, and Child of Refugees/Immigrants to the United States.
List three things that people would be most surprised to learn about you.
- I am originally from Los Angeles, California.
- I was not planning to attend a four-year university until I became a part of the Scholars Latino Initiative, which helped me navigate the application process and apply to UNC-Chapel Hill.
- Two of my brothers attended UNC with me. We are all only one year apart. While a junior at UNC, my brother Oz was a sophomore and Guile was the first year.
Whom do you admire and why?
I admire my mother, whose real-life advice always leaves me in so much awe. It combines wisdom from my family in El Salvador, people she met as a cook in a food truck, and her challenging life journey beginning with her being a mother at 16.