"Whenever I hear a student say, 'This is not my first choice,' I think to myself, 'This is my only choice.'"
Nicole Bonilla was uncertain if college was realistic because she wasn't even sure if she could stay in the country. The Philippines native was not yet a legal resident ,and a scholarship was difficult to acquire. After her paperwork was in order, college became a reality when she received the Opportunity Scholarship at Central Piedmont, which provided a full ride and the chance to flourish.
"My scholarship gave me hope and a new start. The Central Piedmont team made sure I was on track, gave me everything I need to be successful and provided all the support I needed, including ongoing conversations about real-life situations," she said.
Nicole had a love for playing sports, so she participated in student recreation activities and was a founding member of the volleyball club. She got involved in many other student life organizations, mentoring clubs and the Ruth G. Shaw Women's Leadership Program, but her "aha" moment came at the Student Leadership Conference.
"It was an incredible experience. I learned so much more about myself and met a lot of other great students. Their stories impacted my life and future decisions," she said. "I started to look at the world in a different perspective and that's when it struck me."
Nicole decided to run for Student Government Association (SGA) President and won the election. Nicole, once uncertain if she could even attend college, is now leading the Central Piedmont student body with grace and confidence.