Creating Art

February 09, 2011

“It had always been my dream to go to UCSC,” said Nancy Bonilla, and scholarship support helped make her dream a reality.
"The Less Traveled Road," an oil painting by Nancy Bonilla

Nancy Bonilla was just six years old when her family moved to the U.S. from El Salvador. She recalls those first years of her childhood quite vividly, often surprising her parents with how much she remembers. These memories “influence my work, including who I am,” said Bonilla, recipient of an Eduardo Carrillo Memorial Scholarship, which is awarded to art majors who achieve high academic merit in painting, drawing, or sculpture.

“I was really excited when I was selected,” said Bonilla, Porter College, “and I felt very proud that it was on the basis of my artwork that I got the scholarship.” Prior to receiving the Carrillo Scholarship, Bonilla had gone on part-time academic status so that she could continue working and support herself while finishing her degree. The scholarship enabled her to take three summer session classes and stay on track for graduation.

When Bonilla’s family came to the U.S., they settled in San Jose. Santa Cruz became a favorite retreat for them. “We would come and ‘camp out’ in front of the Boardwalk every weekend,” said Bonilla. So it was not a total surprise when her older sister—the first in their family to attend college—chose to attend a summer program at UC Santa Cruz. Then Bonilla followed her example, transferring to UC Santa Cruz from Cabrillo College. “It’s always been my dream to go to UCSC,” she said, “and my parents just couldn’t live without me, so they moved here, too!”

Bonilla works primarily in drawing and painting, and recently began wood-block printmaking. She had only taken a few printmaking classes when she sold some of her prints at UCSC’s annual sale. Art is so much Bonilla’s passion that she pursues her own artwork even when taking a full load of classes, and she sees art in her future as well.

With the Carrillo Scholarship, she learned firsthand what a difference support can make, and she wants to share that experience with others. “I would love to work with abused or troubled children, and try to show them a way that art can be healing,” said Bonilla. “Now I really know what it means to have somebody help you.”

For more information on supporting arts programs and students, contact Monica Grant, (831) 459-2439 or