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Jakelin BonillaOriginally 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.

  1. I am originally from Los Angeles, California.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.