Bianca Rodriguez Castillo is a sophomore majoring in international studies and double minoring in journalism and Japanese. She’s also a first-generation college student and the second recipient of the Rick Bonnell Memorial Scholarship, created by the Charlotte Hornets Foundation; it awards $10,000 annually to a journalism student enrolled at a North Carolina college or university. The scholarship honors Bonnell, a Charlotte Observer reporter who was the Hornets beat writer at the time of his death in June 2021.
Learn more about Rodriguez Castillo, her favorite things about UNC Charlotte and her love for concerts.
Why did you choose UNC Charlotte?
I chose UNC Charlotte because I enjoyed the campus. It wasn’t too small or too big, it was just right. Another reason I chose it was because of its location in the city and the programs the University offered.
What are three words to describe UNC Charlotte?
Three words to describe UNC Charlotte are vivid, bustling and familiar.
Where is your favorite place to eat on campus and what do you get?
My favorite place to eat on campus is definitely Shake Smart. I always get the acai bowl with vanilla protein, and I like to add chocolate chips.
How does it feel to be selected as the second recipient of Rick Bonnell Memorial Scholarship?
Honestly, it still feels pretty surreal. I applied to the scholarship thinking I wasn’t going to get it. My friend was the one who convinced me to apply, so I did, and I got it. I’m honored, and I think of it as a win for Latinas who are pursuing journalism. It made me feel amazing because I thought, “Wow, I can actually do this.” More than anything, I’m grateful and honored to have received the scholarship, and it definitely will help me continue my education and pursue journalism. I want to do big things in life and this scholarship has made it a little easier to reach my dreams.
What do you like to do for fun?
I like to hang out with my friends, go on picnics, visit museums and attend concerts. So far, I’ve been to three concerts this year and have two more planned for later this year. In total, I’ve been to nine concerts and it’s definitely one of my favorite things to do. Mostly though, I just enjoy being in the presence of my friends, laughing and goofing around.
What advice do you have for new students?
I think the biggest piece of advice I have for new students is to get involved on campus. I became very involved on campus the second semester of my freshman year. I was on the executive board for the Hispanic College Awareness Program, which is one of the Latin organizations on campus and how I met some of my closest friends. Another piece of advice I have is don’t be afraid to talk to people in your classes. I like to use the complement method. Compliment something they're wearing to start a conversation. I met my best friends in class, so I encourage you to put yourself out there.