Born in the town of Candelaria, Quezon in the Philippines. Rapunzel was born the middle child of 3, she had plenty of fond memories living in a developing country. She experienced washing her clothes at nearby rivers when water was rationed. She was a focused student, and by 3rd grade, she had found a passion for and was committed to mathematics and science. She was only 13 and left in the middle of her second year in H.S. when her parents brought their family and immigrated to the US. Because of their young ages, she and her older brother were held back 2 yrs. below their grade level. She was placed in 8th grade, with a program equivalent to 6th grade in the Philippines. She was also placed in an ESL class the first day because she was a foreign student. She remembered walking home alongside her younger sister with such a heavy heart very discouraged with school and felt defeated. In October 1989, during her last year in high school, in Daly City CA, the Loma Prieta earthquake shook the SF Bay. It was through the media that she heard about Structural Engineers role in designing buildings and bridges making them safe when an earthquake hits. She was inspired to recommit herself to mathematics and planned on entering an engineering field. She was accepted to attend Cal Poly College of Architecture in 1990.
As an immigrant-Filipino-woman in engineering, she quickly embraced the odds and knew that she would be “designing” a unique path for other women to follow. In June 1994, she was 1 of 10 women, who earned a B.S. degree in Architectural Engineering from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. That summer, she began her career in structural engineering, working as a Designer for a building manufacturer in Turlock, CA. She remembered her first mentor, telling her “Rapunzel, as a woman engineer, you will have to run 110 yards to score a touchdown.” That was the best advise she has ever received and she has been running 150 yards for a touchdown ever since. She obtained her P.E. (Professional Engineer) registration in 1997. It was her sweetest TOUCHDOWN! 10 years in structural engineering and 2 daughters later, with the burning desire to be her “own boss” and start her own consulting firm, she returned to school to earn an MBA degree at Stanislaus State University (Stan State) in Turlock. And in 2005, she introduced to the world, Amador Lewis, Inc., “providing structural engineering solutions with creative options.” In 2006, she was elected the 75th president and was honored as the 1st woman president of the Modesto Engineers Club (MEC). This privilege gave her a bigger passion to give girls the inspiration to break barriers. She began youth outreach and brought Future City Competition to the Central Valley. Future City is an exemplary STEAM program and engineering competition open to middle schoolers. Since then, Stanislaus has become home to the CA State Champs in the last 8 consecutive years! The same year, she joined Modesto Rotary and its motto of “Service Above Self” quickly became her life’s purpose as well.
Using her engineering vocation as an agent of change, Rapunzel would spend the next 10 years leading Rotary’s International Service to more than two dozen Global Humanitarian projects that would save hundreds of thousands of lives in 7 continents to this day. These global projects included water system distribution to bring potable water to people in 10 remote villages in her birth town. Today, more than 10,000 villagers have access to clean drinking water for the first time in their lives. Remember the 13-year old girl who felt defeated after her first day of school as an immigrant? Three decades later, Rapunzel continues to use defeat and failures to fuel her goals, while changing the world. She is on this journey to becoming a successful STEAM educator. Her love for bringing STEAM education to communities, who would not otherwise have access to it, began when she brought Future City Competition to the Central Valley in 2007. Since then, she began designing STEAM curriculum and instructions to serve Stan State’s numerous Math and STEM programs on weekends, schools breaks, and afterschool. Further fueling her passion for education was an appointment for teaching at Stan State beginning in 2015. After three semesters of teaching Math, she received ongoing appointments to teach multiple courses in Operations Management, Accounting and Finance. Rapunzel’s civic engagements included serving the Board of Directors in many local non-profit organizations, including Future City Competition, Habitat For Humanity, MEC, Rotary Club, and Engineers Council. Among her most recent notable awards were: 2015, 2014 Rotary International’s “Vocational Service Leadership Award”; 2014 San Joaquin Engineers Council “Engineer Of The Year Award”; 2014 Stanislaus County Commission for Women “Outstanding Women of Stanislaus County Award; and 2014, 2013, 2012 The Rotary Foundation’s “Distinguished Service Award”.