The Bridge: Kaua'i to College

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Leo Fulgencio

Mentors Helped Leonila Fulgencio Score Two College Acceptance Letters

By Stephanie Shinno The Garden Island | Sunday, May 9, 2021, 12:05 a.m.

Bessie Fulgencio and daughter Leonila tour the California State University Long Beach Campus last week.

LIHU‘E — Leonila Fulgencio of Kaua‘i High School is a graduating senior, one of the valedictorians of her class, and is considering offers from two colleges to further her education. And she credits participation in The Bridge: Kaua‘i to College program with helping her succeed.

May 1, decision day for committing to a college, came too fast for Fulgencio, so she’s committed to California State University Long Beach as well as San Diego State University. She’s waitlisted for a presidential scholarship at CSU-Long Beach, a scholarship that would provide her a full ride through college.

“So my mom and I want to wait a bit to hear about that,” Fulgencio said. “We’re really hoping that I’ll get off the waitlist.”

After interviewing with The Bridge: Kaua‘i to College program founder Dr. Susan Davis, Fulgencio was paired up with her first mentor, Dr. Lisa Crampton, aka Cali, the project leader of the Kaua‘i Forest Bird Recovery Project.

“Since becoming Leo’s mentor three years ago, I have observed her mature into an outgoing, confident and decisive young woman while maintaining her pleasant and respectful demeanor,” Crampton said.

Through this program, Fulgencio said Crampton always liked being kept in the loop about what classes she was taking and what she was doing to prepare for her college application.

“I received support for my SAT,” Fulgencio said. “They paid for my SAT prep and even one of my registrations. They also had a bunch of workshops, where they would give a sort of like a college lecture, so we could see how it is, and gave us some tips on how to connect with your professor and make you stand out from other students.”

According to Fulgencio, she learned about the program through watching her older sister Mayumi Fulgencio, alumni of The Bridge program, who is currently a sophomore at Lewis &Clark College in Portland, Oregon.

Tisa Herold, treasurer of The Bridge: Kaua‘i to College, said Bessie and Teri Fulgencio learned after their son’s experience with college selection and admittance, that it was a much-more complicated and expensive process here on Kaua‘i.

“The Bridge helped this mom and dad get their daughters the free guidance and mentoring they need,” Herold said. “Bessie and Teri are very thankful that The Bridge filled that gap between high school and college admittance, and provided the mentoring guidance, tools, financial support and financial-aid information needed.”

Bessie Fulgencio, mom of Leonila, said the program also has a summer program, “Spice Up Your Summer.” “When my older daughter studied abroad in Germany, a big chunk of her airfare was taken care of from The Bridge because they really supported it,” Bessie Fulgencio said. Mayumi came back confident. Unfortunately, with the COVID, Leonila was supposed to go last summer, but it got canceled.”

Leonila is getting ready to graduate on May 21, and she wants other students to know that college is possible.

“I like to say that there’s always help out there,” Fulgencio said.

“I think a lot of kids on this island don’t think that college is achievable because of their financial situation, or they don’t know how to prepare themselves to be accepted by a school, or even they just don’t know where to start. And I’d want them to know that there are resources out there, especially The Bridge. I feel like I have a lot to thank for them for getting me to where I am today in terms of my education, and like helping me prepare for college.

“There are people out there who are willing to support you and your dreams and anything that you want to do or anything you want to pursue. The Bridge program will always be there for you to help you get there,” Fulgencio said.

Fulgencio is a recipient of Grove Farm Foundation’s 2021 Scholars award, receiving a $20,000 scholarship, not including the $13,000 in scholarships she earned from other nonprofits.


Stephanie Shinno, education and business reporter, can be reached at 245-0424 or [email protected]

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