Timothy Mason grew up in an Eastern Connecticut town with over 150 active farms. Although his hometown boasts green pastures, red farm homes, and the many colors of an agricultural history, Timothy found life there to be a bit “monochromatic.” He began to search for a more diverse student body for his next school setting.
Timothy’s educational exploration led him to a magnet high school fair where he first discovered Connecticut River Academy (CTRA). He stopped by the school’s busy booth and noted the engaged educators and the students who spoke candidly about their experiences.
“After I talked to everyone and saw that CTRA really was a diverse place, it seemed like a good fit,” Timothy acknowledged.
A Community by the Connecticut River
As a new CTRA scholar, Timothy saw the inclusion in action, especially in his social studies classes. “My classmates and I wanted to talk, have debates, and share different perspectives respectfully. It didn’t feel like a lecture or like the educators were talking at us, it felt like they were a part of the whole class discussion. There was room for respect, but also room to push boundaries and debate, and the teachers fostered great discussions.”
“At CTRA, I was a student government member, and I didn’t mind staying after school to interact with my friends on the board or to talk with my teachers because it felt like home,” Timothy expressed.
“The teachers at CTRA were awesome,” he readily shared. “They encouraged you to do your best and always tried to push you a little bit beyond your comfort zone; they brought you to your full potential. There was a level of mutual respect between the educators and the students. They didn’t see us as kids; they saw us as people who could do something different and change the world.”
“CTRA was open and honest, too,” Timothy went on, “and it made you feel like you were in a special environment. If you wanted to start a club or secondary project to pursue your passion, you could. If scholars mentioned something they didn’t like, teachers did their best to address it. There was an openness to change, and responsiveness to student needs that I didn’t see in other places.”
Beyond the educators’ capacity for empathy, CTRA also enabled Timothy to take college classes tuition-free while still in high school through the school’s early college model.
A scholar with a knack for science
“I took Medical Topics in Science as an elective in my sophomore year at CTRA and found it interesting. That got me wanting to look into the field of medicine,” Timothy conveyed.
Eventually, Timothy was eligible to take college classes at Goodwin University. “Taking biology at a college level got me excited and pushed me even more,” he enlightened.
“With the dual enrollment education, you were able to make the most out of that opportunity,” Timothy added. And having earned 26 credits that could be applied to his undergraduate degree, Timothy saved almost a full year of college time and tuition before graduating high school.
“The early college model set me ahead,” Timothy explained. “I still graduated in the full four years, but I was able to take my time and didn’t have a crazy course load. I could spread out my classes instead of cramming them all in, and that helped a lot.”
From early college model to medical school
Timothy has since graduated from the University of Connecticut with his bachelor’s degree in molecular and cell biology. He is currently in his pre-clinical years in medical school at UCONN, interested in internal medicine and its subspecialties.
“I made many friends that I still talk to from CTRA, and we always go back to visit during school breaks — Thanksgiving, winter, spring, all of them, and we’ve been doing that for the past four years now,” Timothy revealed.
Now on his way to becoming a medical doctor, Timothy acknowledges the magnet high school’s role in his successes. “CTRA fostered conversation and growth, solidified my timeline, and showed me what it truly means to work hard for a long time,” Timothy credited.
“CTRA taught me discipline and to see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
From CTRA pupil to “paging Dr. Mason…”
“At CTRA, we were encouraged to give back as much as we can, and the dynamic between learning and giving was emphasized. We were a team and a family, striving to be better global citizens,” he affirmed, “and giving back to the community was second nature by the time I left.”
“Everyone at CTRA had a monumental role in shaping the person I am,” Timothy disclosed, “and I appreciate everyone who helped me along the way.”
And to all of those thinking about considering CTRA, Timothy advised: “Your education is invaluable. Don’t let anybody try to take that away from you.”
“CTRA is a great environment,” he observed, “it will foster you and help you grow. Go in there, ready to work, with an open mind, and you’ll be surprised at what you find.”
For more information, visit: www.ctriveracademy.org/learnmore
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Goodwin University is a nonprofit institution of higher education and is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Goodwin University was founded in 1999, with the goal of serving a diverse student population with career-focused degree programs that lead to strong employment outcomes.