“I realized I had a lot of catching up to do academically, and LaGuardia proved to be the place to get up to speed,” said Tavarez, who came to the united States when he was 16 years old. “I literally learned how to put sentences together, how to put paragraphs together, what an argument was.”
Once at the school, Dr. George Sussman convinced Tavarez to consider history as a field of study. Later, Dr. Joyce Zaritsky hired him to tutor students in world history, which encouraged him to become a teacher.
“It was at LaGuardia that I met really wonderful professors who helped me,” he said. “With their support and encouragement, I regained my confidence and passion for education.”
He transferred to City College in 2009 with a 3.89 grade point average. Tavarez took two trip to the Dominican Republic where he did research for his senior thesis on Haitian political culture and the independence of the country.
In 2010, he received his bachelor’s degree in history and was awarded a full five-year doctoral fellowship at Princeton.
“I think I made it to Princeton, not because of how smart I am, but because I had professors who made me aware of what it takes to get into a prestigious institution, and who worked with me in the process,” he said.
Tavarez is now in his second year at the Princeton and is doing his pre-dissertation research on the Spanish Enlightenment and the Spanish American revolutions. He will be returning to Spain to continue his research at the Madrid archives and the Archivo de Indies in Seville, where he will be studying colonial Spanish-American documents.