S. Jakelin Bonilla earns Luce Scholars Program fellowship

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S. Jakelin Bonilla earns Luce Scholars Program fellowship


Bonilla is Carolina’s 37th Luce Scholar


(Chapel Hill, N.C.—March 3, 2015) – S. Jakelin Bonilla, a 2012 alumna with a bachelor’s degree in global studies focused in international politics and Latin American studies and a minor in entrepreneurship, is a recipient of the 2015 Luce Scholars Program fellowship.


Carolina boasts more Luce Scholars than any college or university in the United States, including seven recipients in the last five academic years. Bonilla, Carolina’s 37th Luce Scholar, is one of 18 Americans named recipients in 2015.


“I am eager to learn from immigration activists working in grassroots organizations. Like in other areas of the world, the forces that drive immigration-economic opportunity, political oppression, and even environmental factors-are only increasing in Asia,” said Bonilla. “I am especially interested to learn from women who have risen above the marginalization of their own societies and are the forefront of change.”


Bonilla, 24, is the daughter of Oswaldo Contreras and Delmy Bonilla Contreras. From Siler City, she attended UNC-Chapel Hill on a Pogue Scholarship, a four-year merit award for academically outstanding students who have shown an abiding commitment to the principles of diversity and cross-cultural understanding and have impacted their high schools or local communities in concrete ways; she was also a Carolina Covenant Scholar, a UNC-Chapel Hill program that promises eligible youth from low-income families to graduate with a baccalaureate degree debt-free. Bonilla currently serves as the director of the Global Gap Year Fellowship and Global Programs in the Campus Y at UNC-Chapel Hill. She has ambitions to one day attend law school and ultimately practice as a public interest lawyer.


“Through her tireless efforts and dedication, Jakelin Bonilla has helped strengthen the global immersion programs at UNC-Chapel Hill and exemplifies the very essence of what defines a Luce Scholar,” said Chancellor Carol L. Folt. “Her experiences during her fellowship in Asia will further invigorate her passion for international diplomacy. I’m very excited for her.”


As a student at UNC-Chapel Hill, Bonilla was an undergraduate Admissions Ambassador and was inducted into Order of the Golden Fleece. A former mentee of the program, she served all four years as a mentor in the Scholars Latino Initiative and also participated in a research fellowship with the Kenan Institute’s Poverty, Ethics, and Policy Lab.


During the fall of her sophomore year at Carolina, Bonilla founded Linking Immigrants to New Communities (LINC), an initiative that took students off-campus into immigrant neighborhoods to teach English classes using a curriculum based on the daily lives and needs of immigrants themselves. From the roots of LINC came other after-school tutoring and workshop initiatives to inform immigrants about their legal rights.


“Jakelin’s selection by the Luce Scholars Program is a superb investment,” said Mary Floyd-Wilson, professor of English and director of UNC-Chapel Hill’s Office of Distinguished Scholarships.  “As an immigrant activist, she is committed to improving the lives of others, and she will use her Luce experience to find new ways to tackle humanitarian issues.  Simply put, Jakelin is a powerful force for good.”


Bonilla also volunteered and conducted ethnographic research in Central and South America through the Burch Fellowship and Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship while pursuing her undergraduate degree at UNC-Chapel Hill. She was also recognized in 2011 with the UNC Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship.


The Luce Scholars Program was launched by the Henry Luce Foundation in 1974 to provide an immersion experience in Asia to young Americans who would not otherwise have the opportunity to learn about the region. The award provides stipends, language training, and individualized professional placement in Asia for those under age 30 with limited exposure to Asia who are graduating college seniors, graduate students, and professionals.




Luce Scholars Program press release: http://www.hluce.org/lsnews.aspx


Photo of Bonilla: http://bit.ly/1zEdMa2


Office of Distinguished Scholarships contacts: Mary Floyd-Wilson, (919) 843-7764, floydwil@email.unc.edu; and Alsace Gallop, (919) 843-7757, gallop@email.unc.edu; @ODS_UNCCH