Viviana Bonilla Lopez
Viviana is a San Juan, Puerto Rico native who describes herself as a journalist, mental health advocate, and storyteller.
In 2014, she graduated with the highest distinction from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, earning a BA in journalism with a minor in entrepreneurship. As an undergraduate, Viviana was certified as an Online Counseling and Suicide Intervention Specialist and worked in the mental health system as a volunteer, intern, and research assistant. In 2011, she co-founded Rethink: Psychiatric Illness, a student organization aimed at raising awareness about mental illnesses and increasing help-seeking behaviors among students. In this role, she spearheaded the creation of the university’s first-ever mental health advocacy training, which has attracted over 360 students and earned the organization the 2012 Diversity Award.
As an intern with the international mental health non-profit organization Clubhouse International, watching poor government policies defund quality programs sparked Viviana’s interest in legal and policy work. Her interest in law heightened as she supported students with mental illnesses in accessing disability services and defending their ADA rights.
In the journalism field, she has experience as a writer, photographer, videographer, researcher, translator, and editor. Her work has been published in numerous publications including USA TODAY College and the Center for Investigative Journalism of Puerto Rico, as well as referenced in a report to the United Nations.
Viviana is currently attending New York University School of Law as a Root-Tilden-Kern Scholar, where she hopes to focus on mental health policy and disability advocacy.