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Q&A with Accelerate grad Ashley Asencio, who will attend URI

The Accelerate Program offers Providence high school students an enhanced senior year experience that allows students to jump-start their postsecondary career while completing their high school requirements. Students who successfully complete the program can earn up to 24 college credits at no cost of enrollment for the student or family. 

Hello, my name is Ashley Asencio. Growing up as a first-generation student hasn’t been easy; I have always needed to seek for my own help and wondered if I was making good decisions academic-wise. When an advisor came to my elementary school and spoke to us [about the Onward We Learn], my fifth-grade self knew I had to sign up. I was aware that my parents weren’t going to be able to help me with much of the college process due to the language barrier and them not experiencing college. This was the perfect opportunity for me because not only was I already thinking of the future but I was earning money for going to programs. Looking back, I thank my fifth-grade self for being so aware and getting those papers signed because each and every advisor had played a part in the student I am today. They have guided me in the right path and provided me with so many good information and I know that’s their job, but they make you feel special and one of a kind. They make sure they remind you how amazing you are and that you can reach for the moon if you keep pushing and I thank each and every one one of them for that! 

Why did you decide to join the Accelerate Program? 

I decided to join this program because at the time we were all doing online school and I really loved the feeling of doing school online and having my own schedule. I decided this might be a good decision for me although I was also scared because I wasn’t going to have teachers on me 24/7, which meant I was going to be more independent. I decided why not start my college process early and get a feeling of what fall 2021 could look for me and if I was ready to take that step. 

Please share a memorable moment you have in the Accelerate Program. 

During the college process, I felt myself become so overwhelmed I wanted to give up. I remember being on Zoom with [College Admissions Coach Ana Almeida] and explaining to her my fears of not being good enough for some of the colleges I was applying to and remember myself crying from frustration. She told me everything was going to be fine and that I was a smart young girl with a lot of potential. She was right; I kept bringing myself down and thinking I didn’t deserve what I had accomplished, which made me feel like I wasn’t good enough. Ana was always there for me when I needed wise words, as were many other advisors. 

What role did College Success Coach Heckerly Flores play in your success? 

She helped me choose what college was best for me and why it was the best choice to make. 

What are you most looking forward to in your first year of college? 

I’m excited to experience a new environment and living on my own for the first time and really get a feeling of what adulthood can look like for me as well as become more independent. 

What challenges are you anticipating in the years ahead? 

Now that I got the feeling of what college could feel like, I’m not really scared, I’m just scared if I’m going to keep the same habits or become better. I left things for last minute yet finished all my assignments on time. But I want to change that. I don’t wat nto keep that habit because it gives me less time to perfect my work. 

What words of advice do you have for the next group of Accelerate seniors (Class of 2022)? 

At first it might seem like a lot to handle and you might think to yourself, “Why did I join this?!” But trust me, it has been the best decision of my life. Not only was I doing school from home, but I had extra free time for myself. I was able to manage my life the way I wanted to and didn’t have to follow strict rules from teachers. Hearing my classmates complain about how stressful school was made me feel like my classes were easy. But make sure that if you decide to join the Accelerate Program you are willing to communicate with your advisors and seek help when needed or else you’re letting yourself down.