DENVER — Within the walls of the FBI is someone who is not supposed to be there.
"I didn't think I would be anywhere close to where I am today," Andrea Bonilla said.
Bonilla is an intern at the FBI and a senior at the University of Denver. She is double majoring in psychology and criminology with hopes of working for the bureau someday. But, she thought her future was derailed after what happened to her mother.
"My mom suffered an accident at a nursing home that she was working at," Bonilla said. "She ended up injuring her spine."
Bonilla said back issues forced her mom to eventually quit working for good. She was a single mother raising three daughters and Bonilla says the injury meant she had to start supporting her family at the age of 12.
"I was at a young age," Bonilla said. "I had to grow up very, very fast."
She worked all the time even through her high school days at the Pinnacle Charter High School in Federal Heights. Despite her time crunch, Bonilla worked to maintain good grades.
"If now it's hard, well, if I don't keep working hard, then it just continues to be harder," Bonilla said.
Bonilla later found the Pinnacol Foundation.
The Foundation is a nonprofit created by insurance company Pinnacol Assurance. The Foundation offers scholarships and support to students whose parents have died or became severely injured on the job.
"We want to be there for the injured worker's children who are seeking their educational dreams and goals," Pinnacol's Corporate Citizenship Programs Administrator Chris Sautter said. "We want to be there to support them and make sure that those dreams and goals are not forgotten."
Bonilla says it helped to know that her family was not alone.
"There was a lot of people that I could relate to finally that understood where I was coming from," Bonilla said.
Sautter says the support is key.
"That is one of the most powerful things about the Pinnacol Foundation is that we have this opportunity to help students feel like they are not the only ones going through these types of experiences," Sautter said.
The scholarship helps students like Bonilla get to maybe exactly where they're supposed to be.
"Since a young age, it's been a rough road for us, but been able to make it through this far," Bonilla said.
Thursday night, the Pinnacol Foundation recognized 97 scholars for the upcoming school year. The inaugural class 18 years ago consisted of four students.