Bruna Lee, a former student at the Edwards Middle School and resident of Charlestown, was the featured speaker earlier this month at The Steppingstone Foundation’s annual gala. Bruna was recognized for her achievements and perseverance as a Steppingstone Scholar. A free afterschool and summer academic program, The Steppingstone Academy prepares academically motivated students for success at Boston’s competitive independent and public exam schools, and eventually college. An 11th grader at The Rivers School in Weston, Bruna is the editor of the school’s literary arts magazine, co-president of the Gay-Straight Alliance club, a school tour guide, member of the track team, and an excellent student. Bruna addressed more than 400 guests and shared details of her academic journey that began in Brazil and continues to unfold today.
Her parents, both born in Communist China, met and married in Brazil in the early 1980s. Her mother finished high school and her father was schooled through seventh grade. At age 11, Bruna’s family moved from Brazil to Boston for better opportunities. Learning English and adjusting to a new culture was challenging, but she worked hard and was rewarded when she was nominated by a faculty member at Edwards Middle School to become a Steppingstone Scholar. While she had to miss band practice (her favorite part of the day), she and three friends made the commute via train and bus to get from Charlestown to Dorchester for the Steppingstone classes afterschool on Wednesdays and on Saturdays during the 14-month academic program prior to entering The Rivers School.
With the help of her Steppingstone preparation and placement advisor, Bruna chose Rivers and never looked back. “It challenges me in every possible aspect, and I love it, “ she said. Bruna discovered her passion for languages at Rivers, as she is studying Spanish and Latin and speaks fluent Portuguese and English. “Even though I had to make sacrifices along the way, I know it was worth it because of all I’ve gotten to do these past two years,” she shared. In addition to the numerous activities she participates in, Bruna spent her spring break last year in India studying current affairs and experiencing a new culture. With college on the horizon, Bruna is ready for the next step. “I know this is only the beginning, and there is so much more out there for me,” she reflected.