Bruna Lee

bostonlatin27When Bruna Lee first came to Steppingstone, she had all the confidence you might expect of a homesick immigrant, struggling to learn English: Very little. “I kept asking myself if I was good enough to be a part of such a talented group of kids,” she recalls. Born and raised in Brazil to Chinese parents who’d never gone to college, Bruna and her family had come to the United States only three years before. “The transition wasn’t an easy one,” says Bruna. “There was a language barrier, a scarce knowledge of American culture, and a longing for the life I had left behind.”

This August, five years later, Bruna will pack her bags and enroll at Brown University as a member of the Class of 2017. She fell in love with Brown when visiting the campus on a Steppingstone tour. “I was very fortunate to be accepted,” Bruna says, “and I’m proud to say that I’ll be heading there in the fall. If it weren’t for Steppingstone, I wouldn’t have even visited Brown.”

Currently a senior at The Rivers School, Bruna has become a passionate student, activist, and athlete. When not in class, you can find her leading school tours, running track, editing an arts magazine, and acting as co-president of the school’s Gay-Straight Alliance. “Rivers challenges me in every possible aspect, and I love it,” she says. “I’ve been able to try out so many activities, and pursue so many opportunities to discover my interests.”

Bruna is quick to point out that Steppingstone had a lot to do with her success at Rivers. “I definitely wouldn’t have gotten into Rivers if it wasn’t for Steppingstone, and all the support I’ve received throughout high school has been just incredible,” she says. When she struggled with the transition to Rivers, her Steppingstone Advisors helped her adapt to the new environment. And when Brown’s early decision deadline approached, Bruna came into the Steppingstone office three times in the same week to get help with her application. “Steppingstone was always just a phone call away,” she says. “I knew I could make it as long as I had these people by my side.”

Bruna now provides this same support to younger Scholars, who are only just beginning their time with Steppingstone. Last summer, she completed almost 300 hours as a Teaching Assistant with The Steppingstone Academy. “I’m considering being a teacher, but I didn’t have any experience before being a TA, so it was really cool to see everything that happens behind the scenes,” she says. While she was learning more about careers in education, Bruna was also modeling for young Scholars how to work hard and stick with it. “When you’re starting the program,” she says, “you have no idea that it’s going to stay with you for the rest of your life. But it does.”

“When I was applying, I thought it was just a 14-month program that was going to get me into high school. But it’s so much more than that. It’s also about getting through high school, and getting into college, and getting through college. It’s just amazing that Steppingstone can be there for so many students at the same time and for so long.” With her first year at Brown right around the corner, Bruna is planning to study Linguistics–a passion she discovered at Rivers. “No matter where I go or what I choose to do in the future, I know I will have Steppingstone’s support,” she says.