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FunTimes Magazine

Bianca Portillo-Maldonado

Bianca is a Philadelphia native who grew up in Northeast section of Philadelphia. She is also a proud Nittany lion who graduated from thePennsylvania State University in 2018 and studied Mass Media Communications. Her passion for connecting and building relationships with people stems from her Guatemalan parents who immigrated in the late 80’s to North Philadelphia. They instilled the importance of community service to Bianca, which allowed her to start her very own scholarship with Esperanza Academy in 2017.This scholarship is meant to help an incoming college student with any expenses that would help support their first year. Bianca now works as the Partnerships Coordinator for Campus Philly. This organization helps college students in the Philadelphia region, learn, grow and explore the city of Philadelphia.

How did you figure out what your passion is?

I realized what my passion was when I caught myself feeling joy after helping others and joining different extracurricular activities that were social. I love talking and connecting with people which is how I landed the partnerships coordinator role at Campus Philly.

What has been the most rewarding part of your journey so far?

The most rewarding part of my journey is having the freedom to give back through my scholarship at Esperanza Academy. I was a first-generation college student myself and I understand the struggle of navigating college finances along with getting good grades and preparing for a career. I’m also grateful for the professional experiences I’ve had in previous internships. Those experiences is what helped learn more about myself and the career I want. It also taught me that’s okay to have one dream and switch over to another.

What else would you like to accomplish?

I would like to continue helping others with limited resources, along with increasing the amount of my scholarship. The past two years it’s been a small amount of $150.00 and this year I will increase it to $500.00. By the end of this decade I hope to raise a lot more!

Has there been any Black role model or mentor who has inspired your vision or accomplishments thus far?

My parents. My father didn’t go to university, but he is the smartest man I know. His reads every day, always up to date with the news and taught me history and geography before I learned it in school. When I was one years old, my mother worked full-time while she was pregnant with my younger sister and she attended night classes to get her master’s degree. At the time, my mom didn’t know English, so she had to translate all her work for her to understand and complete her assignments. My mother graduated with honors.

Moments when I feel overwhelmed, I think about the hustle my parents have and it always brings me back to focus.

Do you have any cultural activities or experiences that you feel have enriched your life’s journey thus far?

The summer of 2006, my mom enrolled my sister and I in a school in Guatemala. We thought we were going for vacation and when we landed, my mom gave us uniforms and told us to go to bed early because class started at 7am. I was upset in the beginning because I was nervous, and I didn’t want to go to school in Guatemala. By the end of summer, I made many friends and learned a lot about my family and culture. That experience was very eye-opening for me because it made me more grateful for the blessings I have and made me realize how much I had taken for granted.

What advice would you give to other young people beginning their careers?

If you are one of those people who do not know what you want to pursue as a career yet, pay attention to what you do on your spare time. Those are the activities that don’t feel like work and as they say, if you do what you love, you won’t have to work a day in your life. For those who know what career path they want to take, my advice is to always meet new people and network. Don’t stop networking once you get a job offer. Often, it’s about who you know than what you know.

What does being a part of the African Diaspora mean to you?

Being a part of the African Diaspora means many things. There is not one term that defines it. Our culture is special because we work very hard to break barriers that involve a lot of sacrifices, long hours, patience and unity. I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish any of my goals if I didn’t have someone to look up to from the African Diaspora.