Rafael Velazquez-Vazquez

EARLY COLLEGE HIGH SCHOOL PROVIDES OPPORTUNITY FOR LORAIN STUDENT TO EARN HIGH SCHOOL DIPLOMA AND COLLEGE DEGREE

Rafael Velazquez-Vazquez is a student who makes it a habit to take advantage of every educational opportunity he can. That approach has positioned the 18-year-old to earn his high school diploma and an associate degree at the same time.

As an 8th grader in Lorain, Velazquez-Vazquez heard about the Lorain County Early College High School, which allows select first generation college students to simultaneously earn a high school diploma and associate’s degree – all for free and on the Lorain County Community College campus.

“I chose Early College to grow as an individual I've always felt that in life there are certain things that should take priority over others, one being education. Being at a normal high school I would have probably felt like I wasn't doing everything I can to get ahead,” Velazquez-Vazquez said.

However, being immersed in a college setting as a 9th grader was a little overwhelming at first for Velazquez-Vazquez.

“I've had to reach a level of maturity at an early age so Early College has given me the opportunity to foster that without getting the stigmas I would have most likely gotten at a normal high school,” he said.

To adapt to the rigor of the Early College program, Velazquez-Vazquez utilized services available to students on campus. The location he became most acquainted with was the Tutoring Center.

“One factor that helped me was the tutoring center. I was better able to understand class material. I also have become a better writer while using the tutoring center,” he said.

Velazquez-Vazquez had to miss several days of school in 2010 when his grandmother passed away. The tutoring center became a daily stop for him as he caught up on the work and tests he missed while out.  He also utilized Disability Services at LCCC. Born four months premature, Velazquez-Vazquez has a few conditions that required special attention.

“Overall I have enjoyed my experience at LCCC through the Early College,” he said. “I have grown to become more confident and responsible, and I hope more students take this opportunity to better themselves.”

Following graduation, Velazquez-Vazquez will continue his education at LCCC’s University Partnership. He will study business administration at Kent State University. He was awarded the Diversity Incentive Award, a scholarship for new Lorain County high school graduates.

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