Deadline for annual Rick Bonnell Memorial Scholarship is nearing. Here’s how to apply

Two years ago, Concord native Noah Monroe wasn’t certain about his career path and where life would lead him after finishing college in Chapel Hill.

That all changed when he earned the first Rick Bonnell Memorial Scholarship.

“It gave me a sense of confidence I’m not sure I had before,” Monroe said Sunday, “just because you don’t really think you’re a fantastic journalist. But you get a scholarship like that, you must be right?”

Monroe, a sportswriter at the University of North Carolina’s campus newspaper The Daily Tar Heel who’s now in his senior year, received a one-time scholarship of $10,000 to help with his college expenses. The money came from donors who gave funds in the name of Bonnell — the Observer’s longtime sports reporter who covered Charlotte’s NBA franchise since its inception — to the Charlotte Hornets Foundation upon his death in 2021.

Noah Monroe, the first Rick Bonnell Memorial Scholarship winner, works a game in a press box.
Noah Monroe, the first Rick Bonnell Memorial Scholarship winner, works a game in a press box.

And the Hornets are searching for the next recipient to join Monroe and last year’s winner, Bianca Rodriguez of UNC Charlotte. The deadline for the third annual scholarship, which awards $10,000 each year to a journalism student enrolled at a North Carolina college or university, is Friday. Applications can be submitted at

The winner will be selected by a panel consisting of Hornets staff members, former colleagues at the Observer and as well as Bonnell’s children, Jack and Claire.

For anyone who may be on the fence about submitting their name into the contest, Monroe has a suggestion: go ahead do it anyway.

“I’ve told people at the student newspaper — it doesn’t hurt to apply,” Monroe said. “The application is very short, it doesn’t require long answers. So, if you’re a journalist, writing 200-500 words, it’s something we do pretty much every day. And the stress of applying versus the gratification of getting it, the gratification is so much better.

“When you have this chance of being hosted by the Charlotte Hornets and getting an article written about you in the Charlotte Observer, you kind of get to boast about it. And I think it’s a feeling everybody should be able to enjoy.”