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Q&A with Accelerate graduate Jason Rodriguez Taveras, who heads to PC this fall

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. 

I am a first-generation immigrant who came to the United States when I was 2 years old with my mother and two siblings. My father was unable to come to the U.S. until I was 11 years old. I faced many challenges growing up, which included having to learn both Spanish and English simultaneously and trying to fit in with my family as well as with the people I met at school. In my younger years I was never really comfortable in either space; this was reflected in my behavior as well as my grades throughout elementary and middle school. This changed when I found a second home and family on the eighth-grade wrestling team. It was a place where I was supported as well as held accountable by my coaches, Kevin Hernandez and Bill Fullaway, as well as my teammates. I learned the importance of discipline and how my actions now will inevitably affect my future. My wrestling career was short lived because of a knee condition that effectively took me out of the sport for good. All of a sudden I didn’t have this home anymore, but what I did have was those lessons I learned. So I decided to make the most out of what I had left, and with a knee that prevented me from participating in most organized sports, that was my mind. To do this, I hit the books hard for four years throughout high school and will now graduate with a 92.89 GPA, as well as nearly 30 college credits thanks to the Accelerate Program. This fall, I will be the first person in my family to attend college, and in a few years I plan to be the first to graduate college as well. 

Why did you decide to join the Accelerate Program? 

I heard about the Accelerate Program from a friend of mine, and I thought it sounded too good to be true. But it was true! I saw the opportunity to get a head start in college while also being able to graduate high school normally. It was a very easy decision for me, because it was one I could not let pass me by. 

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

The best moment for me was finishing the second semester and realizing that I have completed nearly a year’s worth of college classes before I had even graduated from high school. Being able to share that with my family and seeing how proud they are has been great. 

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

Heckerly was by far the most helpful counselor I have had in all of my years of schooling. Heckerly was always there to help me when I needed recommendations, scholarship opportunities, help finding tutors, as well as filling out things like FAFSA, my CSS profile, helping me put together my college essay as well as a financial aid appeal to Providence College, which got me a very well-needed few more thousand dollars in financial aid. Overall, Heckerly has been an overachieving, high-spirited counselor who has been of great help to me; I am sure that without her help I would have not been able to excel in my classes the way I did. 

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

I am looking forward to being a part of a new community of people that really want to learn. High school was different because there were always a few students who were there because they had to be and they would make the class unpleasant to those of us that did want to be there and learn. 

What challenges are you anticipating in the years ahead? 

I am worried about adjusting to the new environment. I’ve never lived without my parents and so being in a dorm with two people that I don’t know will be a new experience for me and it is something I will have to overcome. 

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

The Accelerate Program will be incredibly difficult if school is not your main focus. Having to apply to colleges, write your college essays, and apply for scholarships and fill out the FAFSA while also having outside responsibilities like family or a job will be extremely difficult. I had many late nights because of this and there were times where I was not as prepared as I should have been for tests and assignments because of my heavy schedule. It is a significant commitment and should not be taken lightly. Other than that, it is a great opportunity if you are able to make the commitment.