Ashaad Tillman is the quintessential Breakthrough Providence superstar.  He’s spent his past couple of summers as a summer teaching fellow and was even a student in the program.  He’s now in college studying to become an educator.

Ashaad sat down with BTP’s Carlon Howard to talk about his experience in being a student and teacher at Breakthrough Providence.  Check out their conversation below.

Carlon Howard: So, Why did you join BTP?

Ashaad Tillman: I joined Breakthrough Providence mainly because it was something my parents saw as a best fit for me going through middle school. They saw it as something I could benefit from academically. I don’t really think they knew this at the time, but I was shy at the start of middle school.

So your parents thought it was the best fit for you, but they didn’t necessarily about you being shy?

They were mainly trying to get me to do Breakthrough for the academics so I could gain some study habits or other things.

So you’re speaking of academics and also the social part, do you feel like the social part also played a factor in it?

Yeah, definitely. That was a big thing. I started at my middle school later than a lot of the other students. I only went to my middle school for two years, 7th and 8th grade. I switched because my elementary school had a sixth grade. So going in and seeing all these kids who already knew each other for a whole year, I’m just like the new student, it was just hard for me to adjust to that. I ended up being on the shy end. And then starting up with Breakthrough towards the end of my 7th grade year and starting up in 8th grade, I became the social butterfly that everybody knew.

And I know that you were a teacher also, and you taught for us this past year and you taught for us two years ago as well, why did you end up becoming a Breakthrough Providence teacher?

I became a Breakthrough Providence teacher just because I missed Breakthrough, and I just loved being there. I just wanted to see what it was like being on the opposite side.

So after being a student and being a teacher, what was your most rewarding experience?

Most rewarding from being a student was the confidence I gained from just talking with other students and the teachers who invested a lot of time into me. My school teachers seemed more concerned about if I wrote my papers to the correct guidelines. And then as a teacher, I just learned the aspects of what it means to be a leader and how people look up to you. I didn’t really see how much of an impact I would have until after my first summer teaching. I saw how much the students would always want to just talk to me and get to know me. It was something that was really cool.

What advice would you give to someone considering teaching at Breakthrough Providence?

Just take a positive risk. Do something that you wouldn’t think you would ever do. At first it’ll definitely make you feel a little hesitant about it, but in end, it’s definitely worth it. It’s something that you’ll never forget. It’s one of those unforgettable experiences.