Thank you to the donor who provided my scholarship.

My name is Anna Bonilla, and I would like to share my story. In my 20s, I decided to leave my hometown and pursue an education in California. I graduated from California State University with my Bachelors in Psychology with a minor in Human Development. I was volunteering for a local crisis center, which offered me a full-time position upon graduation. Our services were for those suffering from mental illness and grief. We worked the National Suicide Prevention Line and were one of the locations at that time contracted with the National Veterans’ Line. I gained much experience and knowledge on how to interact with many people in different walks of life. It was a very emotional job but very rewarding at the same time and gave me a brand new outlook on life and how to not be judgmental regarding anyone’s situation. 

The position I held also opened my eyes to the medical aspect of persons in crisis. I couldn’t understand how those suffering with depression or suicide are just released and handed off to the crisis center location to receive referrals.

I became pregnant with my son, who is now 3, and decided to move closer to my parents. I wasn’t sure I wanted to make such a move because I had one older child who was 5 at the time and had just started Pre-Kindergarten. I decided to donate all our belongings to a women and children’s shelter. I sold my vehicle and made the move. I figured in Florida I would work at Charlotte Behavioral Health Care, but something kept pressing me and people around me would say, “You should go for nursing.” And I thought, “How can I just start over?” I would have to take most prerequisites and had already used my financial aid receiving my B.A.

I went on a leap of faith, not having a car or job or money for tuition, and applied for classes at Florida SouthWestern State College. The adviser pointed out scholarships available. I applied right before the deadline. That Friday I received a call I had been selected as one of the finalists for the scholarship. Over that weekend I also received a phone call of a part-time position at a local restaurant. That Monday my father found a car within his budget that I could repay and then later that week I was awarded my first scholarship! I then knew this journey of nursing was meant to be.

The nursing program is four levels and I just started Level 3 on August 19, which is a very rigorous, time-consuming semester. Our professors explained to us in depth what to expect and I knew I would have to lessen my work load. I went down to working just two days a week and still had not paid my tuition for this semester. I was grocery shopping when I received the call from Charlotte Community Foundation that I was selected for a scholarship, and the amount awarded is exactly the remaining balance I have left to graduate in May. I broke down in tears. There aren’t enough words to express how one day you wake up wondering how on earth is this going to be paid before my classes get dropped and in the same afternoon your prayers are answered.

For those who donate and wonder where their donations go, please understand that to me not only does it help me directly but it will help the many others I come in contact with in my career as an RN because I was able to continue my education. Not only do I not have to stress for this semester, but I already know I don’t have to worry about my final semester. Talk about a relief and weight lifted off my shoulders.

I am extremely excited to become an RN. I love going to our clinical and encountering many patients who I can provide comfort and care to as well as their families. For me this is just the beginning. I am still very passionate about the therapy side and focusing on mental health. I would love to become a Psych nurse. The end goal for me is to have my own practice or nonprofit that will include counseling and wellness for all.