A Veteran from California Spends a Year as a Coach on His Way to Columbia University


Angel Fulgencio grew up in Oxnard, California just a few hours north of Los Angeles. He is the son of an immigrant family whose parents migrated from Mexico. Growing up, his parents worked hard in the strawberry fields in Oxnard to provide for the family. In high school Angel joined the football team, which was his introduction into sports. Football kept him on the right track and encouraged him to set goals beyond high school. He also took after his parents as they demonstrated hard work and determination for him. When the attacks of September 11, 2001 happened Angel was in high school. Angel, along with his parents, felt grateful to live in the United States felt a surge of pride, which sparked his sense to fulfill a commitment to his country.

After high school, Angel joined the U.S. Army for five years of active duty service. He was an aviation/operation specialist, supporting helicopters and Medivac units. After leaving the service he went into the Reserves for two and a half years, which provided the transition time he needed to discover what he would do next.

Angel went on to attend Oxnard College, his hometown two-year college. This gave him the foundation he needed to transfer to UCLA and get a degree in Geography and Environmental Studies. After graduating UCLA, he realized that while he had a passion for his areas of study, something was missing; he felt a strong desire to be involved in his community.

After a 6-month fellowship with Mission Continues - where he heard about Up2Us SportsOperation Coach program - Angel began coaching. This role has given him the opportunity to give back, serve his community, and make a difference in the lives of children. The training he has received has prepared him to work with youth in the most impactful way possible.

Since starting his term at his host site, A World Fit For Kids! at Patrick Henry Middle School, Angel has built a sports program that the kids truly love. Recently, he has realized the kids are starting to look up to him as a role model and they are forming a deeper connection beyond just the sport he coaches them in.

After this term ends in July, Angel will be attending Columbia University to obtain his Master’s Degree in Social Work. For Angel, this is a large step - outside of his time in the Army he has never lived outside of California or away from his family. He is excited about his adventure ahead.