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30th Anniversary Spotlight

Archi Lora '08

Always a Fantastic Day

Archibaldo “Archi” Lora

Steppingstone 2008 / Thayer Academy 2014/ Lesley University 2018

Archi and fellow Scholars at Steppingstone Commencement

From Archi Lora’s earliest days as a Scholar, “Steppingstone felt like home.”

For the 2008 Alumnus, “it was one of the first times I felt that I was in a truly diverse environment,” he recounts. Since his first summer, his life path has led him from Thayer Academy to Lesley University and then back to Steppingstone as a beloved staff member for the past three years.

This summer, as he looks ahead to a new chapter in life, he thinks back to a Steppingstone teacher’s words, assuring a room of Scholars that they’d each find their own unique niche. “He said it way funnier,” Archi adds with a laugh. Yet the idea “was just burned into my mind.”

In reflecting on his Steppingstone story, as in everything he does, Archi continually brightens the mood with his naturally positive and lively spirit.

“I’m always having a fantastic day!” he exclaims. It shows.

Favorite Memories

Archi loves surrounding himself with friends

As an Advisor, Archi brought that same spirit every day to supporting the personal and academic growth of a cohort of middle schoolers with social-emotional/study skills classes, check-ins, and group activities. In his role, he helped to organize everything from orientations to family potlucks to overnight retreats.

On an organizational level, he also served on a staff task force for putting the organization’s core values into words and contributed to strategic planning efforts for program design.

The culture encouraged everyone on staff “to get to know each other on a deeply personal level,” he reflects. He loved the impromptu hangouts with other Advisors and traditions like the staff Thanksgiving potluck.

From his work with Scholars, some of his favorite memories are the unprogrammed moments. At the start of midweek sessions, as Scholars arrived and settled in, they’d come in with so many stories to share.

“The summer is always the best part of it,” he adds. “It’s crazy that the same games and activities I played when I was 10 I could play with my students, too.”

Preparation and Support

When Archi first applied to Steppingstone himself at a teacher’s recommendation, he didn’t get in. But he didn’t let that stop him. Self-motivated by nature, he persisted and was accepted for the next year. Looking back, “the thought of meeting new people and learning in a new space was really appealing to me.”

With Steppingstone’s preparation and support, he entered Thayer Academy in 7th grade, where he went on to graduate in 2014.

Celebrating college graduation with family and pizza

Both in the summers and during the school year, Steppingstone was definitely hard work. “Once I got into Thayer, the amount of homework seemed doable and I knew how to organize myself,” he says. “I ended up going in feeling ahead.”

At Thayer, along with being part of varsity swimming and student-led diversity initiatives, he fueled a passion for the arts through his outside involvement in Artists for Humanity.

When he went on to Lesley to pursue a B.F.A. in illustration, Steppingstone continued to be a supportive presence in his life. If he ever had a question or concern, he knew he could turn to his Advisor.

Staying Positive

During the dual pandemics, he believes his own role as an Advisor took on an even deeper meaning. “Children are very attuned to stress,” he reflects. He feels that it helped Scholars to see in him someone who did his best to keep calm and patient, especially when so many kids in general were having such a tough time.

Archi in the Dominican Republic

“Trying to stay positive also helped me,” he adds. Beyond work, he tried to keep up the spirits of the people in his own life who faced hardships.

As he expands on the point, he repeats one of his mantras: “celebrate the little things.”

His Family's Story

Archi and friends enjoying an art exhibit

Born in the Dominican Republic, Archi came to the United States when he was only a year old. His parents immigrated to Boston, where much of his dad’s extended family had already settled. His first time back in his family’s homeland wasn’t until age 18, but returning gave him clearer insight into the world in which his parents had grown up.

As the prevalence of COVID-19 increased and he shifted to working with Scholars remotely, he actually returned to a family home in the D.R. for several months to find a quieter space for focused work.

Since coming back to Boston, he’s happily surrounded by family again. In fact, “my mother’s right next to me,” he notes in sharing his thoughts for this profile.

In their Steppingstone story, “I started the ball rolling,” he says. In his second summer as a Scholar, one of his cousins joined him. Later, one of his two younger brothers followed in his footsteps.

As he sees it now, “one goal for all Steppingstone families is to learn to navigate the educational system,” from middle school through college.

Support to Rely On

Looking ahead to the next chapter in his own career, “every conversation is an opportunity,” he says. As one possibility, he imagines working in admission and financial aid within higher education, gaining a broader perspective on college access and success.

If he could offer advice to new Scholars, it would be to take full advantage of everything that Steppingstone provides. “Don’t be afraid to ask questions,” he adds. And don’t hesitate to try something new. “If you’re afraid of failing, Steppingstone is the best place to fail,” he says with a smile.

If something seems daunting at first, the staff and community of Scholars will be there to help you to work through and learn from it.

Archi with fellow Steppingstone Alums and former co-workers

Some of Archi’s closest friends are fellow Alumni that he met through Steppingstone. He’s made a point to stay connected. Through whatever twists and turns his path has taken, he knows he can count on them to understand where he’s come from and what he’s going through.

Eduring Pride

Since his Scholar days, he feels the program has continued to evolve, including taking “more of a holistic approach” to preparation.

What hasn’t changed? For one, “the way we interact with Scholars [as Advisors] and the way they interact with each other.” He deeply values the ongoing influence of the culture, connection, and community.

“Scholars rep being a Scholar,” he notes. “They’re really proud of it. That’s been cool to see.”

He’s proud to have had a role in fueling the college dreams of his Advisees. He knows that Alumni take many pathways to their own success. “I’m excited to see where Scholars go,” he reflects, “and to see how Steppingstone really grows.”

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