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Andrea Bonilla

February 17, 2016//

Meet Andrea Bonilla. You can find her at the Downtown Campus Rec, volunteering with ChildSafe and SAMMinistries, or in the classroom researching the criminal justice system as it pertains to teens.

UTSA has molded me not only from an educational standpoint but through mentorship and support that I've received while I've been here.

– Andrea Bonilla

She gives back to the community because both her family and UTSA have instilled in her a sense of duty, a sense of pride and a sense of passion. She doesn't take the responsibility lightly.

Her father was a retired New York state trooper and stepfather was an investigator for the Inspector General's office in New York. Bonilla is now earning her M.S. in Criminology in the UTSA College of Public Policy (COPP).

"My family always taught me to pay it forward. It's in my blood," Bonilla said. "UTSA has molded me not only from an educational standpoint but through mentorship and support that I've received while I've been here."

Last spring, she won the 2015 UTSA Civic Engagement Scholarship for her work with ChildSafe, an organization focused on child abuse prevention and treatment. As a group project, she and other COPP students created more than 600 cardboard cutouts of children to represent children who'd been abused in Bexar County. The cutouts made a powerful statement.

After graduating in May with a bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice, she had plans to attend Graduate School at UTSA in the fall. But things didn't go as planned.

When the semester started, Bonilla received news that her biological father, who she hadn't had a relationship with for 20 years, had cancer and didn't have long to live. She had to send a difficult email to UTSA: She would have to defer her first semester of graduate school.

"Family comes first," she wrote to her professors and employer at the Campus Rec. "I felt it necessary to forgive him for not being in my life. I couldn't live with that guilt in my heart knowing that I had an option to be with him in his time of need."

Her father died on Sept. 20 while she was at his side.

"I can honestly say that every professor has not only been supportive, but has encouraged me in some way," Bonilla said.

Through personal battles, Bonilla keeps working hard and keeps paying it forward.

She came back to UTSA in November with not only a chance to start grad school, but to start a job where she works with students to promote athletics and health, two other things she enjoys.

Bonilla also mentors local community college students, encouraging them to attend UTSA.

"I believe that you are who you surround yourself with," Bonilla said. "So I tell them what UTSA has to offer. I tell them that it's a warm environment, that you not only learn in the classroom, but about life in general. Your college experience shouldn't just be in the classroom and I've learned that here. I tell them, 'Once a Roadrunner, always a Roadrunner.'"

Do you know someone at UTSA who is achieving great things? Email us at social@utsa.edu so we might consider your submission for an upcoming installment of Meet a Roadrunner.

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