Harvard University Alumni Interview Paul Cuffee Juniors

PCS Junior, Delio Hernandez, discusses his plans for higher education with Harvard interviewer, Michelle Novello, in a mock college interview.

As part of the Harvard Club of Rhode Island’s Month of Service, 17 alumni of Harvard University interviewed 15 Paul Cuffee School juniors, preparing them for their college interviews that will occur this summer and next autumn.

Angela Romans, Mayor Angel Taveras’ Senior Advisor on Education and an alumna of Harvard College and Harvard Graduate School of Education, offered welcoming remarks. The Paul Cuffee students then paired with Harvard alumni and spent 20 minutes interviewing, before reflecting on the interview and receiving constructive feedback from the interviewer. Then the students interviewed with a second alumnus/alumna of Harvard.

Among the interviewers were a number of prominent Rhode Island professionals, including Chris Blazejewski, District 2, Providence State Representative; Professor Jorge O. Elorza, Law Professor at Roger Williams University; Elizabeth Canning, Nondiscrimination Coordinator and Title IX Coordinator at Johnson & Wales University; Michelle Novello, Program Coordinator for Providence Community Libraries; and Valerie Taylor, Paul Cuffee School parent, among others. Mayor Angel Tavares attended, but was unable to interview.

This year was the first year of the program, and its success emboldens both Paul Cuffee and Harvard to continue it. One of the students noted that it was “really cool to practice the skills that will help me prepare for college interviews.” Cuffee Principal, Becky Coustan, noted, “Giving our students the opportunity to converse with successful professionals in a one on one situation is remarkable. Here are incredibly busy adults sitting and listening to our students, focusing on them and sharing with them constructive feedback. That kind of interaction rarely occurs, and prepares our students for their future interviews, both for college and for career.”


Average Class Size: 20
Current Enrollment: 820
Students of Color: 96%
Female Students: 51%
Male Students: 49%
Free/Reduced Price Lunch Eligibility: 82%
Multi-Language Learners: 19%
Students Receiving Special Education Services: 13%
Total Employees: 168
BIPOC: 45%
Female Employees: 75%
Male Employees: 25%