From graduating high school a year early as the valedictorian with a 4.7 GPA to graduating from Rio Hondo College with a 4.0 GPA while earning seven AA degrees and three certificates — Jacob E. is an 18-year-old with an impressive academic career.
Jacob believes his determination and drive grew significantly during his formative middle school experiences at KIPP Academy of Innovation in East Los Angeles. Despite living in Downey, Jacob’s family didn’t think twice about having to commute to East LA. When they learned about KIPP’s mission of preparing students with the skills and confidence to pursue any paths they choose—from college, career, and beyond—they knew KIPP was the right choice for their son.
Although Jacob initially struggled with his middle school transition, he soon began making meaningful connections with his teachers, ultimately altering his entire middle school experience. To this day, Jacob deeply appreciates his KIPP Innovation teachers, who fostered his love for learning and motivated him to pursue higher education.
“I liked how all the teachers at KIPP Innovation went to really good colleges. Some went to UCLA, Harvard, Georgetown, Villanova, and DePaul. There was a variety of colleges that they went to, which inspired me to attend college and get into one of those big schools,” said Jacob.
Jacob with a few of the awards he received at KIPP Innovation
While at KIPP Innovation, Jacob was also actively involved in the robotics club and took advantage of the KIPP Forward program, which connected him with a counselor who encouraged him to seek enriching opportunities, such as the Jaime Escalante Math Program. Because of the math program, Jacob took pre-algebra the summer before his 7th-grade year, allowing him to take advanced math courses in 7th grade (algebra) and 8th grade (geometry).
“The Escalante Program sparked my interest in taking advanced courses — from advanced math to going to college at a young age. It really pushed me to be hardworking and seek more knowledge,” said Jacob.
His family also participated in the KIPP Forward High School Fair, which gave them the opportunity to learn more about public, magnet, charter, and private high schools to ensure he transitioned to a school that met his academic and extracurricular needs. Soon after the fair, his family enrolled him at Ellen Ochoa Prep Academy, a magnet school in Pico Rivera.
Jacob’s high school (left), Rio Hondo College ‘22 (center), and Rio Hondo College ‘23 (right) graduations
When he graduated from high school a year early, Jacob simultaneously graduated from Rio Hondo College with his first two AA degrees due to his participation in the college’s dual enrollment program. But the achievements didn’t stop there — he also received five more AA degrees this past spring.
While at Rio Hondo College, the KIPP Forward team even went as far as to help him get a Google Chromebook to set him up for success. A gift he and his family is extremely grateful for.
“We're thankful to KIPP Innovation and KIPP Forward because they kind of lit a fire in him and made him become super hardworking and ambitious,” said Jacob’s mother Leticia.
Jacob at Rio Hondo College and UC Irvine
Jacob currently works full-time as a Primary Promise Math Instructional Assistant for 4th-grade students and recently transferred to UC Irvine as a double major in Criminology, Law and Society, and Psychological Science.
In the future, Jacob hopes to get a job with the Federal Bureau of Investigation or become a forensics analyst. He is also open to one day becoming a part-time professor or even a KIPP Forward counselor to give back to his fellow KIPPsters.