Hi Bonitas! I'm so excited to highlight some of the recipients of the VLB x Guerrera x TWP Scholarship Fund. With your help, these amazing Bonitas are able to continue their journey. The two pieces we have dropped so far are sold out but you can donate directly to the fund by clicking HERE or learn more about TWP at Thank you all. We literally couldn't do this without you all.

"I am Angie Monroy and soy orgullosamente de Guanajuato, Mexico. I'm a first-generation school graduate and first generation to get a college education (English to Speakers of Other Languages and Early Intervention Program certifications) and a music major from Wesleyan College: First for Woman.  I started working from the age of 14 in cattle, landscaping, and house services. My family has always been a priority to me, and last summer I worked over 60+ hours every week in the early mornings and the late-night shifts to provide for them and to pay for school. Although my parents didn't get this far in their education, it's my dream to bring them along my educational journey. After a lifetime full of hardships like patiently waiting for the fight against DACA to end. I'm determined to do what it takes to pursue  my dream career.  Que viva Mexico Latinad for excellence. Sueños sin fronteras, dreams without borders." 

"Yá’át’ééh shí éí Graciela “Zonnie Bah” Olivas yinishyé. Hashk'ąą Hadzohí nishłi Naakai báshíshchíín Naakai ei dashinalí dóó Tsénjikíní ei daschicheii. My name is Graciela “Zonnie Bah” Olivas. I am half Navajo and half Mexican. This is my introduction in my Navajo language and is an acknowledgment of the two beautiful diverse cultures I come from. 


I will soon complete my Bachelor of Science degree in Public Health with an emphasis in Environmental & Occupational Health this fall from the University of Arizona. I am preparing my application for graduate school to obtain a Master of Science in Environmental Health Science. Ultimately, my goal is to gain admittance into an MD-Ph.D. dual degree program, focusing my Ph.D. on Epidemiology. I love problem solving & research; therefore, this unique program would allow me to work as a physician scientist and understand both the clinical and community aspects of healthcare. As a student of color, I recognize how fortunate I am to be pursuing my education and realize the impact I can make to improve the health of my community by continuing my education and acquiring these advanced degrees. 


My passion for public health & research began early on as I witnessed a number of health disparities impacting my loved ones. My family has a high prevalence of diabetes, cancer, mental illness, and heart disease. I always wondered why so many of my family members seemed to get sick and would have trouble accessing the healthcare they so badly needed. I grew up receiving my medical care from the Indian Health Service and not once did I see a medical doctor who looked like me. This pattern carried on into academia as I noticed a lack of research scientists and professors of color. This lack of representation, understanding, and cultural awareness within healthcare amplifies the other disparities our people face. Therefore, I want to help, I realized that I could use my education and experiences to serve my people as a leader, mentor, healer, and research scientist to increase overall quality of life for our Native and Latino communities. Who better to heal our communities than those who come from the same culture that built them?


Throughout my time here at the University, I've been extremely privileged to be engaged in opportunities that have helped me grow as a student & serve my community. For example, I've been fortunate to have participated in several undergraduate research opportunities. One of my most memorable summer research experiences was when I participated in the University of Arizona's College of Medicine Border Latino & American Indian Summer Exposure to Research (BLAISER) program. I was able to visit several tribal reservations that neighbor Tucson and visit Mexican border communities in Nogales, Mexico. Witnessing the need for more healthcare resources in these underserved areas first-hand has strengthened my resolve to serve within my Latinx and Native community. Even now, I continue to serve my community through my work as a program coordinator for the University of Arizona’s Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center Community Engagement Core. This position is extremely rewarding as I get to serve as an advocate and resource for local Latinx and Native high schools’ students who want to go to college & study STEM.


It is the existence of educational opportunities like the Viva La Bonita x Travel with Purpose Scholarship that give students like myself the knowledge and resources needed to make a difference within our respective communities. 

Ahéhee’ - Thank you!"

"I’ve always been a curious person, fascinated by how the human body works. Growing up in a Latina household, with immigrant parents, I always felt that my opportunities were limited. My parents worked two jobs in order to make ends meet. At times that wasn’t enough, but that never stopped them from giving my two older siblings and myself the best childhood. My family always spoke about the “American Dream” and what it would mean to them to get their citizenship or residency in the USA. “Only then would our opportunities be limitless”, they’d say. 


On August 2010 my life changed. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement was pounding on our door calling for my father. As he walked out of the door two men rushed him instantly putting handcuffs on. As I cried out to my dad, I could see my siblings and my mom call out for help. This happened so abruptly, and yet I had to put myself together for school. I was looking forward to this day my whole summer. I did not understand why this was happening to my family and I, but I did know that going to Lakeview Charter High School was going to help me build a brighter future. Volunteering at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center after graduating high school opened my eyes to a new realm of possibilities. I knew I could pursue my bachelor’s of science in nursing regardless of those societal norms placed on me and those of my color. Although I could not help my father, volunteering provided me with a means to help those in similar circumstances as my family. It provided me with a purpose and a way to help my community. 


While shadowing registered nurses in the maternity unit and helping them prepare the rooms of new patients I learned the passion that comes with nursing and how important it is to be an advocate for patients. However, healthcare is not a privilege everyone has access to. For many years my parents could not afford healthcare and had to receive care from government clinics. I firsthand want to tackle the inequality of healthcare systems based on socioeconomic status. The financial burden of paying for school has always held me back from getting accepted into an institution. Pursuing my bachelors of science in nursing will allow me to go beyond those societal boundaries. 


Nevertheless, I know it took my efforts and the efforts of my village to get me to where I am today. I am dedicated to investing the next years of my life to West Coast University, while influencing and being a voice for the Latinx community.


I am Guadalupe Ceja-Barragan."

"Raised in East Los Angeles, CA my childhood was filled with the trauma of a drug addicted father and the emotional wreckage left in the wake of his death by overdose at 29. My mother, overwhelmed by life as a single parent of 3 children under the age of 6, began a slow descent into an emotional chasm. I had no choice but to grow up very quickly and learn to become my own advocate and decision maker about what was best for my own life. Raised by grandmother, my life was filled with hardship but also a burgeoning need to help others like myself never have to deal with the same trauma. While family members turned to substance abuse to fill the gaps in their lives I turned to volunteering in my community. I survived school despite a trauma induced learning disorder and became an outspoken critic of anyone who felt like oppression of any kind was a normal way of life. My journey to help others was put on the back burner while I fought and healed from head and neck cancer. Now healed and stronger than ever, my focus again is on my community and helping them overcome alcohol and drug addiction. "

"As a child, I had the unfortunate circumstance of experiencing childhood sexual abuse and rape. As I was liberated from my predator I began to cope using unhealthy mechanisms.  My negative coping mechanisms developed into drug addiction, lack of education, and an arrest record, leading me to multiple dead-end jobs. Two of these jobs would dramatically change the trajectory of my life. In one circumstance I found myself in a space where I discovered my purpose— environmental advocacy, inspired by my Indigenous heritage. My ethnicity, gender, and lack of education ensured my professional and economic mobility within this organization would be limited. The second professional space is where I would meet the father of my children. Our abusive relationship would eventually lead to the removal of my children by the Department of Children and Family Services. While I was navigating Children’s court as a mother and domestic violence victim, I was allowed to heal and reinvest in my mental, emotional and physical health. I was determined to go back to school and obtain an education that would lift my children and me out of poverty, and patterns of dysfunction. Since then, I have closed my case and have been reunited with my children, have had the opportunity to be involved in research programs, have made the Dean’s list at my local community college, and transfer to The University of California, Berkeley.  Using my lived experience, I want to further my cause of research and community collaboration to provide changes in policy at local, state, federal, and global levels, while simultaneously building programs that assist low-income, communities of color gain access to academic opportunities and scholarships in areas of environmental research. If I can do it, so can you!"

"Hola, my name is Jasmin. I’m a junior at Hunter college and I’m super excited for the opportunity to be talked about by travel with purpose and viva la Bonita. 🙌🏽🙏💐🥰 Un poquitito de mi. I’m Dominican, raised in the Bronx with my younger brother and my mother. At 14 years old, I’m currently (28) my mom was arrested and deported back to the Dominican Republic. I was left to live with family but it wasn’t the best situation to live in. So I ran away at 15 years old, one of my good friends at the time took me in. But you know like your mom says. You will only truly see who really cares about you when you live with them. I’ve lived in over 10 home with friends or family. I experienced that all the way until 26 years old. I finally was able to get my own place, about 2 years ago. When I became pregnant, at about 7 months, I was fired by my current employer. I ended up giving birth a month later! I know huyave the greatest gift in the world that I’ve always wanted. A family to be with all the time that truly loves me for me. Pero enough of the sad stuff. I am now currently in Hunter pursuing a nutrition; food science degree. I want to be able to help my community as much as I can in anyway I can. Almost more than half of the United States does not eat right. The Latin community grows up grow up to know the wrong things about food and how it can heal you. Growing up in the Bronx I did not know this and growing up suffered with a lot of food pains. Besides hunger there’s also making sure the food you eat is actually nutritious and helps you. I want to be able to help change that. I’m going to continue to grow as a person and learn from my past mistakes. And also guide young women like me out of the darkness that could be. But I’m still standing and with so many more beautiful things to come. And with the help of beautiful people like Loren and the rest of the family in the Latin community. Todo es possible !! Keep going, please don’t give up. And stay very strong. Thank you."

"My name is Leonora Velasquez Mencho, and I am Guatemalan. I was born in the United States, but I grew up in Guatemala. The only reason that my brother and I were born in the United States is that my mom wanted to give us the necessities that she never had. She had left Guatemala wanting a better life for us, her family, and providing us with opportunities she never had. When I came to the United States it was a struggle especially because I didn’t know any English. What made me strive and be more ambitious is my education. It motivates me to continue getting an education because not only am I educating myself, but I am also getting the education that my mom and family never received. I am grateful and fortunate enough that I graduated high school and had the opportunity to attend Ferris State University. I hope that one day I can help others in Guatemala and make a difference in the community. It’s never too late to learn something new and be able to make a difference.

I must say that if my mom had not left Guatemala, I would not be attending college or even be able to speak English. I am very grateful to be able to receive an education and hopefully inspire others as well. I want to say THANK YOU to Travel With Purpose for giving me this opportunity! It’s definitely getting me a step closer to my career as a nurse."

"I come from a mixed Moroccan and Indigenous Mexican background,  family came to the US from the United Arab Emirates in 2012 to escape our abusive father. I did not initially do well in school in the US. The language barrier was crazy, the education system was so different and I failed an entire grade. This kinda messed up my entire high school journey and I didn't want to go to college. 

My major is anthropology, I chose this because of the way my people have been treated by white folks in the field. In all of my classes, I have encountered some white guy (or lady) writing about MY cultures like its some kind of weird, mysterious thing or talking about us like we're extinct. Once I transferred out to UC Santa Cruz (during the pandemic of all times) I met professors who were just like me and who are down with that kind of work. I'm super excited to do this, to bring my perspectives and show that we are here, we are strong, we are resilient, and we are not going to tolerate the kind of treatment we experience in the academic world."

"I’m currently a third-year student at Seattle Pacific University in Washington. With the intent of double majoring in Social Justice and Cultural Studies alongside Political Science with a concentration in Law and Public Policy. The motivation to pursue such studies lies within my experience as a Chicana. I haven’t seen many people of color or women throughout the political sphere. Which in turn has caused an interest to pursue a job as either an attorney, congresswoman, or politician. My hope is to one day change the people who represent us in the world of politics. I find that when government representatives look like us, live our experiences, and understand our personal challenges, they’re better equipped for action. Growing up my community has always found a way to support and encourage me. In some ways, I wouldn't be able to be where I am today if it weren't for the strength and encouragement found within my Mother. Though circumstances were rough coming from a single-parent household, I'm eternally grateful as I want to return the love and support I’ve received. Unfortunately due to COVID-19, I lost my sources of income which has made attending university more challenging. With student loans piling up I can’t help but feel the stress of finances. Being one thousand miles away from my hometown and family has been hard but it's a constant source of motivation. I’m thankful for the number of sacrifices both my family and I have endured to be where I am today. Though I continue to face several barriers that have caused me to stumble or fall on my journey towards success, it has taught me that I can rise back up stronger than ever before."

"My name is Rubi Flores Reyes and I am 23 years old. I feel it is important to share the type of adversity other Latinx groups and I have faced to try and come out ahead not only in our lives, but as minorities living in representing our home countries in the United States. My brother and I were drugged and smuggled across the border at the ages of seven and eight (him being the oldest.) My mother was deported back to Mexico for six years and we were left to be raised by our father, who was emotionally incapable of raising us, which led to emotional abuse towards my brother and I later on. Not only did we deal with the abuse at home but we also dealt with bullying at school from people who I thought were my friends and who I trusted. By the age of 12 I was crying every night into my pillow and had become suicidal. Our family was eventually reunited and things looked up for us. 

My story is not unique and something that many minorities deal with, but we are strong, powerful, and resilient."

"My name is Sara, and I'm a high school student from Houston, TX. My mom passed away my freshman year of high school due to breast cancer and her last advice for me was to continue my education, therefore, education is something that means a lot to me. Both of my parents migrated here from El Salvador and I am also a first generation college student. I want to prove to people that even though I didn't grow up with parents who had a lot of money and years of education, a brown girl can still be successful. My parents may not have been able to give me all the money in the world, but they taught me something much more valuable. My parents taught me how to have a strong work ethic and how to work hard, and that is a lesson that is more important to me than growing up with money. I'm going to work hard to help my family and I know I'll make them proud someday."

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  • Congratulations to you all! reading your stories makes me feel proud to be a Latina and proud to call you my sisters! May all your dreams come true and may you reach all your goals. Arriba las bonitas!

    Jamie Espinosa on
  • This was so awesome to read. Congratulations to all the strong individuals who are receiving the scholarship. You all will do so many amazing things in the future and what you are doing now matters a lot too for yourself, family, and community. Keep leading the way!

    Jaqueline Carbajal on
  • Congratulations to all of you !

    Margarita Ramos on
  • Congratulations to all of the recipients of the 2021 VLB X Guerrera X TWP Scholarship Fund! You believed in yourself and earned it! So inspirational, thank you for sharing VLB! Bonitas on the rise!

    Nereida C. Garcia (Neddie) on
  • I’m tearing up reading these beautifully profound bios of these excellent scholarship recipients! I’m excited for their futures and all the ways they will transform society!

    Tiffany O. Uke on

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