Sunday, May 29, 2011

Better Late than Never, Right?

It is approximately one month until we leave for Brown, but I am just now writing my first blog. At this point everyone is probably thinking, "When is ILC going to kick this flake out of the program?"

Well I can assure everyone that the ILC administration is still on top of their game. My absences from the blog tutorial, the School Board meeting, and the dinner at One Market were unfortunately due to medical complications. However, I am happy to announce that my doctors cleared me for full participation in all of the activities at Brown. I simply cannot wait.

In any case, I had to have the blog tutorial much later than everybody else. Fortunately, I was able to have a one-on-one session with Don Gosney today at 4:00 PM. Because there were only two of us, I was able to ask as many questions as I wanted, and the two of us were able to get through all of the material rather quickly and efficiently.
The blogging procedure was very informative to somebody like me, who knew nothing about blogging prior to the tutorial. In the past I had thought of blogging as simply a tool to advertise the scholarship program in hopes for donations, but I now realize that it serves a much greater purpose. Having to blog forces us to actively think about everything that we are doing, to be aware of how an experience is effecting us, or what impact it may have on us in the future. This constant reflection improves our critical thinking, and the constant blogging improves our writing. Thinking about blogging in this way will hopefully make it seem like less of a chore and more of a device for intellectual development.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Epitome of our Future - College

Last night, I went to a college fair at the Marriott Hotel in Oakland. There were several local people at this event that I happened to spot: Julia Martien, an El Cerrito High School junior who will be attending the University of Pennsylvania Physics Academy through The Ivy League Connection this summer, and my two fellow Brownies Kathleen and Erin K.! It was very nice to see them at the end.
Brown University ~ Van Wickle Gates
Five colleges were presenting at this faire (in this order): Columbia University in Manhattan (NY), Cornell University in Ithaca (NY), Rice University in Houston (TX), University of Chicago in Chicago (IL), and Brown University in Providence (RI).
The University of Chicago
The presentation that interested me the most was Brown. Keith Light, one of the Admissions Directors at Brown, was humorous, had tremendous grace, and obviously has a deep love for Brown (ironically, he went to school in California - Stanford!). I was happy to be able to ask him a couple of questions after the presentations were done.
Columbia University
The other schools that interested me were Columbia and Cornell. I liked the environment surrounding Cornell (there was a slideshow for each school) and the academics. I also really enjoyed the New York atmosphere from Columbia and the academics and friendliness the school seemed to have. I have two friends who attend both of those schools respectively (and a couple of friends who attend Brown and will be attending Brown in the fall) who just finished their freshman year and definitely enjoyed their experience.
Cornell University
College fairs are always exciting to me. Like I have stated before, I like experts who propose challenges. What struck me was how all the presenters stressed the fact that the admissions officers are not looking for the people with the highest GPA, the best SAT score, the highest number of community service hours, and who founded the most clubs. They are looking for people who are going to thrive in their schools and change the world. One of the presenters clearly stated: "We are not looking for well-rounded people. We are looking for individualists."
Rice University
Of course, having all those well-rounded qualities never hurts, but colleges do not want robots. They want the person who wants to learn MORE about the robots and try inventing one; someone who comes up with their own rules.

Overall, the college fair was very interesting, and I'm glad I went! Just thought I'd share that with my Brownies!

Representing the City of Hercules

Despite living in Hercules for seven years, I had never been to a City Council meeting until this Tuesday night. Our group of eight ILCers (four Cornell “hotelies”, two Columbia cohorts, and two Brownies) residing in Hercules was invited to speak on behalf of our program at the meeting held in the Council Chambers in the Hercules City Hall. Of the eight, I was only one who did not attend Hercules High School, although I am very much affiliated with the city as a Hanna Ranch Elementary and Hercules Middle School graduate. That’s why I feel proud to represent not only my school but also the city of Hercules on the east coast.
We were informed in advance that we each had to say a few words to the Council expressing what the program meant to us. I slightly prepared what I was going to say mentally, but when I saw that Beilul Naizghi, one of the Columbia cohorts, had written her speech out, a wave of panic swept through me. However, my anxiety eased when I saw that other students didn’t have anything written down either.

The ILC was first on the meeting agenda. After Hercules Mayor Joanne Ward began the meeting, she introduced Mr. Ramsey and Ms. Ishmael, the assistance principal at Hercules High School. Mr. Ramsey described our program to the people in the room and anyone who was watching at home. He highlighted the process of getting into the program—from writing essays to being interviewed to, most of all, being selected from a pool of highly competitive individuals—and really made us look impressive. Ms. Ismael introduced her students while Mr. Ramsey called me, the lone but very proud Middle College student, up.

One by one, we were asked to speak. Being the last one to talk induced my nerves to build up. I tried to rehearse in my head, but words kept slipping my mind. However, as I walked to the podium, I began to feel confident and ready to speak. I had no reason to be nervous; everyone was encouraging and attentive to what we had to say. I think all of us did a commendable job in representing the ILC. After we finished, Mr. Ramsey called up Yueming Wang, a Hercules High School senior and former ILC Cornell and Columbia cohort who will be matriculating to Cornell in the fall. She expressed her gratitude and spoke about how the program ultimately helped her choose Cornell over UC Berkeley. Yueming is a great example of the impact that the ILC delivers.
The night ended with us gathering together with the Council for a group picture. Don directed us into our places and like usual, shot too many pictures to count. After our picture, we thanked the Council members and gathered outside the City Hall for some last words from Mr. Ramsey and Don. They warned us to be on time at next week’s orientation or have our plane tickets canceled. A subtle warning, but I get the drift. I look forward to being extra early for the orientation.

Lastly, I want to thank the Hercules City Council for giving us their attention.

City Council Challenge

City Council meetings are familiar to me. I watch them every Tuesday night the meeting is held as my mother wishes to know the issues and the progress of our city events, and I get reviews from my father who is a member of the City Council. Yet, the difference this time, I was going to talk.

I have been to these meeting for Hercules Teen Youth Council, but those words were scripted and divided among the many other participants in the group. I did not have as much worry because the words were short and there were only ten people in the audience, mostly parents, and I did not have as much pressure then. The words I spoke on Tuesday night were my own, words that I could form to vocalize what I wanted others to understand about the opportunity of the ILC program, and I could ruin that form with an incoherent design created from my own spontaneous words and possibly my note card.

That night, as compared to other nights, I represented myself, but also how my parents who raised me. I went up to speak what I was doing, my achievements that my community and school helped to shape—I was not just accompanying my father to one of “his” meetings.
 Before the meeting Yeuming told us that these meetings did not have a large attendance, apart from the parents and the few that watch the meeting from the cable channel. Despite the assurance, getting up in front of a camera and the four City Council members is still a daunting task. I was being judged by myself and the rest of the room.

Usually when I speak in front of a classroom I always have a note card with instructions on how I will organize my speech, despite the preparation when I was finished speaking the note card was not more than a wad of crumpled paper. I don’t understand how Kelly and Beilul, who prepared their speeches before hand, were able to calmly read their speech without being conscious of the awkward pause each time they looked down at the paper for the next line to read.
 After everyone had spoken, we stopped the entire meeting, and took it off air, just to take a few pictures—I guess the ILC is an honor of the community that must come first. I am proud that our community is so accepting of the ILC to the point that we are incorporated into the meetings, that we can—if students hear our speeches—inspire other students to take the challenge and apply for the ILC for the years to come.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Hercules City Council Hosts the ILC

The evening was a beautiful climax to a typical Spring day here in West County.  The Hercules City Council opened their meeting as they have so many times in the past by welcoming the Hercules residents who are cohorts of the Ivy League Connection.
After the warm welcome from Mayor Joanne Ward, West Contra Costa Unified School Distirct School Board President Charles Ramsey explained to the gathered crowd--and those watching on TV from the comfort of their homes--about the history of the program and how the program positively affects so many of the young people from our community.

Following Mr. Ramsey, Hercules High Assistant Principal Terri Ishmael spoke on the application process and how these cohorts went from the "what's this all about" stage to the "what time does our first class start" stage.  Ms. Ishmael introduced the cohorts and invited each of them to step to the microphone to talk about their own involvement in the ILC.
Concluding the presentation, and before the traditional group photo, former ILC cohort and Hercules resident (and the big sister of current Columbia Constitutional Law cohort Eric Wang) spoke about how her own participation as a two time ILCer affected her.  Yueming Wang was a Hotelie at Cornell two years ago and last summer she attended the Presidential Powers course at Columbia University.
Yueming eloquently spoke of how she was a dyed in the wool Cal Bear fan until she saw what else was available to her.  After attending Cornell and Columbia her views towards Cal were altered-altered to the point where she will be studying engineering at Cornell starting this Fall.

What was clear this evening, as it has been since the beginning, the ILC saw once again that the Hercules community stands firmly behind their young students and if the ILC will help their young members of the community, then the Hercules community stands behind the ILC.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Start Strong, Finish Stronger!

The 2011 Ivy League Connection year is full under way. Collectively we have attended blogging tutorials, fancy dinners, and School Board meetings. Each one of these events is training us to not only to be successful teenagers, but move into adulthood.
The blogging tutorial held in the Hercules Public Library seemed to be long, but was quite productive. In this approximately two hour session Don discussed with us the do’, don’ts and intricacies to blogging properly. This was a great experience not only because we all learned the proper way to blog, but because for the first time I was able to meet the majority of my cohorts in the ILC. Someone once told me that every experience you have, you should learn or gain something from it. Well from this experience I was able to gain motivation because for the first time in a while I was able to see a group of focused, yet enjoyable group of young people like myself.
My Brown group was fortunate enough to dine at the One Market Restaurant in San Francisco, California. This event allowed me to meet and mingle with my fellow cohorts who will be embarking on the same journey as me in the near future. I was able to meet with their parents, district employees, future Brown students, Brown alumni, and financial supporters of the ILC. The great range of diversity amongst all the attendees helped to make this a great event. I was fortunate to give a speech representing Brown Session I (Macroeconomics and Biochemistry). Ava Burnell also spoke representing Brown Session II (Women in Leadership). Both of us gave good speeches, but I think that her speech might have been a little more riveting.
The School Board Meeting was a wonderful experience because all of the ILC cohorts attended (minus a sick Caroline Umali). We were all dressed very nicely if I may so myself. Our chaperones gave short speeches to let the School Board, and community know some details and general ideas pertaining to our voyages. Future 2011 enrollees of Brown, Yale, Colombia, and Cornell also gave speeches. All of these students were participants in the Ivy League Connection, so you can see the fruits of the ILC’s labor.
So far our 2011 ILC group has impressed me, and we are all doing well. I am sure we will continue to keep this up, and I look forward to commencing our journey.

Oh What a NIght

All too frequently we see our young Ivy League Connection cohorts dressed in the same clothes they dress in when they go to school.  And while their attire may be event appropriate it's still a joy to see them when they get themselves all decked out.  No offense to the gents in their suits and ties but there's something about seeing our young ladies when they get all gussied up.
Of course, if they're anything like me, as soon as they get home they're back into the most casual clothes they can find.  For those few short hours of these dinners, though, they're something to behold.
And, of course, this year's Brown cohort did not disappoint.
Our Brown contingent is always our largest with seven this year attending the Women & Leadership course, three attending the  How a Nation’s Economy works: An Introduction to Macroeconomics   course and two more the Techniques in DNA-Based Biotechnology course.
Dressed in all of our finery we trekked across the Bay to meet our very active Brown alums at One Market where, through the courtesy and generosity of our host Dick Barker ('57), we dined on some very fine food.
What would our dinners be, though, without a few speeches from our old standbys Charles Ramsey and Madeline Kronenberg?  Adding to the standard speeches, though, we heard the rousing oratory of Andrew Gonzales and Alex Burrell.  Although CNN and Fox News weren't available to cover the event, Andrew Gonzales announced his candidacy for the Presidency of the United States in 2032.  Already I could feel him tugging at my wallet for a little financial assistance with his campaign.
Of special importance to us, though, was the inclusion of ILC alums Guadalupe Morales and Irene Rojas-Carroll who will both matriculate to Brown at the end of the summer.  To suggest that we were beaming with pride would be an understatement.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Dinner For Cupcakes,No...Brownies!!

On May 3rd was the big, fancy dinner for those going to Brown University. We went to the One Market Street Restaurant after meeting at BART. I confess I didn't know what to expect but when the 53 of us walked down the streets of San Francisco, I knew it was going to be an interesting night. We mingled for about a half hour before taking a group photo. Even before we got to the restaurant I knew we were going to have arranged seating (I'm sure Don noticed our buddy system!). It took me forever to find my seat but was pleased to share the table with my mom, Sarah Scott, one of my interviewers, Susan Champion, School District President, Madeline Kronenberg, my Brown chaperone, LaDonna Williams, and one of the investors, Gboyega Aladegami. They were a lot of fun to talk to and had many interesting conversations!

While we ate, Charles Ramsey, Madeline Kronenberg, and Brown cohorts made hilarious speeches that us laugh. All of the students going to Brown stood up and introduced themselves, followed by Brown cohorts and alumni. We had to state our name, school, and which program we would be in while attending Brown. When it was all over, we mingled one last time before getting back on BART to go home. I was surprised to find out the dinner lasted an amazing four hours! It seemed to fly by. I had so much fun that night and it was so great seeing everyone.

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Inspiration of the Board Meeting

Wednesday all ILCers were required to attend the Education Board Meeting.

We all met outside Dejean Middle School's auditorium, where we were directed to what we were to do once the meeting began. I was able to meet some ILCers from other programs before the meeting who I would have not met otherwise. I remember seeing some students fret whether they had to speak at the meeting and a few had prepared themselves with a speech. After a while, I started to worry if Mr. Ramsey would call on one of us. No one could assure me, and I spread my worry to some of my friends in the program, although they seemed unchanged by prospect.

The meeting began with all of the ILCers sitting with their chaperon, and then the chaperons introduced the students they were chaperoning. In between each introduction an ILC alumni who was accepted to an ILC explained their experience of the ILC program and their reason for applying and going to the college of their choice. There was one ILCer alumni who read her entire speech from her phone. I just thought that was absurd, but she saved some trees, had a well developed speech, and was definitely one of the more memorable of the speakers. I found these speeches inspirational, but I also experienced a feeling of anxiety. I usually have this feeling when I talk or hear about the future, but this time I think I resolved myself to accept the path I am going and enjoy every step of the way.

I was very interested in the other students that were going to their respected ILC. All of the students going are the top of their class and are able to complete the workload these programs require. I remember hearing that the Yale program is a seven day class that goes from 7 AM to 10 PM, although I think I am confusing the schedule with another intense program, and then another required the student to write 20 page report. Even though these are strenuous we are ready, shown by our qualification into the program. The interviewers thought we were qualified for a college class, so I am determined to work at a college level and prove to myself that I am ready for the next step, college.

Before the Board Meeting, I had to take the AP Calculus AB test in the morning. I did not feel the backlash of the test until the next day, which was then proceeded by another AP test, and then the next week on Wednesday I had yet another test. Then after the tests my teachers assigned projects due at the end of May. As you can see the two weeks after the Meeting were extremely busy, and just now have I been able to get the blog post for this event. I really need to start prioritizing my life and stop procrastinating when I am busy.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Just a Teaser

The 2011 Ivy League Connection cohorts, their chaperones and parents gather for a group photo after being presented to the West Contra Costa Unified School District on May 4th.

Stay tuned for more photos.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Gala Brown Dinner and School Board Meeting

On Tuesday night, eating some of the most sumptuous food I have ever had the pleasure to enjoy, the Brown cohort met for the Brown alumni dinner at the One Market Restaurant. My fellow Brownies and I mingled with our parents, chaperones, Brown alumni, and ILC sponsors in a beautiful open room, sipping drinks (non-alcoholic for us students, of course) and sampling appetizers. After posing for several photographs with alumni, we drifted into the luxurious private dining room.

I had the pleasure of dining with Simon Hong, a Brown alumnus and head of the ILC Brown mentor program, Sarah Larson, chaperone for the first Brown group and a wonderfully capable counselor from El Cerrito High, my fellow Brownie Kathleen He and her mother, and my own mother, Cathy Chin.

I was pleased to get to know Kathleen a little better, as I had not had the chance to talk with her much before Tuesday night. I enjoyed her descriptions of Middle College and comparing and contrasting them with my knowledge of El Cerrito High. I also greatly appreciated Mr. Hong’s vivid descriptions of his days at Brown. He was happy to answer any questions we had about life on campus and offered good advice about college in general, and Brown in particular. He also gave us pointers about interesting places to visit during our stay in Providence this summer.

Throughout the dinner, we listened to several eloquent speakers, beginning with Ms. Kronenberg and ending with Mr. Ramsey. Ms. Kronenberg warmly welcomed us all to the dinner and gave a brief history of the program. Student speakers Andrew Gonzales and Ava Burnell thanked the sponsors, chaperones, and all others involved with the ILC for their support. Andrew urged us to vote for him as president in 2032, to the amusement and entertainment of all present. Mr. Ramsey ended the evening’s speeches with a profound quote by John D. Rockefeller. We concluded our dinner by thanking Dick Barker for his generous support of the ILC and offering our gratitude for graciously hosting our dinner. At the end of the evening I was left with a much greater appreciation and understanding of Brown, and I am eagerly anticipating my trip east this summer.

After the excitement of Tuesday night, it seemed ludicrous to think anything else would match the momentousness of the dinner. However, as I walked into the WCCUSD school board meeting on Wednesday, I realized that this was at least as incredible as the night before, if not more so. After a brief introduction by former El Cerrito High principal Mr. Rhea, each chaperone introduced their cohort and spoke about their summer program.

Scattered throughout these speeches were illustrious ILC alumni speakers who participated in the program last year. I was impressed by the poise and eloquence of Irene Rojas-Carroll, Guadalupe Morales, Austin Long, and other students. They each spoke about their personal experiences and offered advice about their respective programs to the current ILC students. They will be attending prestigious universities such as Brown and Cornell next fall, and all credited the Ivy League Connection as a key part of their success. I hope that I will learn as much this summer as they did last summer.

These past few days have been somewhat hectic for those of us in the Brown cohort. Looking back, though, I realize that I had a fantastic time at the Brown dinner and that the school board meeting on Wednesday helped me realize how much the Ivy League Connection means to the community and the students who have participated in the program. This week has been fun and extraordinarily educational.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Exciting Dinner, Inspiring School Board Meeting

What a busy week it’s been! To start off, we went to the One Market Restaurant in San Francisco for our Brown dinner on Tuesday. The students each brought along one parent, and we were accompanied by Brown alumni, school board members, sponsors, school administrators, and other important people. I was excited to see all the Brownies again and had fun taking many pictures with them.

I was immediately impressed with the restaurant as soon as I stepped through the door; it was grander than I could have ever imagined. After mingling for a while and a group photo with the Brown alumni, we found our name cards indicating our seats and sat down at our assigned tables. I had the pleasure of sitting with Simon Hong, a Brown alum and a Senior Research Analyst for Ironwood Capital Management (not to mention one of my interviewers), Sarah Larson, our amazing chaperone for the first Brown session, fellow Brownie Mariko and her mother, and of course, my lovely, lovely mother. Mr. Hong shared his many experiences as a student at Brown, lauding it for its open curriculum, diverse student body, and liberal atmosphere. He was, more or less, selling the school to us, even though he swore he wasn’t being paid for doing it. I enjoyed listening to his praises, and I learned so much more about the school. He also told us about a mentoring program that pairs Brown alumni with high schools students to help them with their college applications, which I am definitely interested in. I didn’t think it was possible, but Mr. Hong made me even more excited to visit Brown.

I was finally able to meet Ms. Larson in person after I missed our group meeting on Monday. She is incredibly kind and caring, and I couldn’t have wished for a better chaperone or group.

During the course of our meal, aside from chatting, we also listened to speakers, beginning with opening remarks by Ms. Kronenberg and closing with Mr. Ramsey. I was very proud of Andrew and Ava for their speeches; they were the lucky two chosen to speak on behalf of us students, and they didn’t let us down. Two students who received well-deserved attention that evening were Irene Rojas-Carroll and Guadalupe Morales, who were in the Brown Women and Leadership program last year and will be attending Brown next school year. On our way back to El Cerrito, I had the opportunity to talk with Irene, and she gave me a lot of insight on her experience and tips for the summer. Driving home, my mother told me how wonderful everyone was and how excited she felt for me. I'm glad she had a great time because I surely did.

The following day, on Wednesday, all of the Ivy League Connection students showed up for the School Board meeting at Lovonya Dejean Middle School. Everyone was dressed nicely, and I felt that viewers watching us on TV were most likely impressed. The ILC program was first on the agenda, and each group was called up one by one and introduced by its chaperone. Ms. Larson did a fantastic job in introducing the Brown #1 group: Andrew, Erin, Erinn, Frank, and me. Former ILC students, including Guadalupe and Irene, also spoke about their experiences and future aspirations. Their speeches were all so inspiring. I’d like to give props to Beulah Agbabiaka, who did so well in representing Middle College High School and will continue to do so at Columbia University in the fall.

After our sponsors received awards and recognition for their generous contributions, we all assembled for a picture of everyone in the program, including our parents. Don snapped around 25 shots, and hopefully I wasn’t blinking in every single one.

This concludes the excitement for the week. I look forward to our next orientation and soon after, our trip! I can hardly wait!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

School Board Meeting 2011

For the past eighteen years, my father goes to school board meetings every other Tuesday or Wednesday because he is a School Board member. For sixteen years I have watched him on television and sometimes in person, and I truly see how much the West Contra Costa Unified School District means to him. It makes me honored to be a part of it, honored to be a part of Ivy League Connection, and happy that we all made it onto television!

My mother and I left our house at around 6:00 PM to take a 15 minute drive to LeVonya DeJean Middle School. Upon arriving we waited with the Ivy League Connection group and our chaperones. We were addressed by former El Cerrito High School Principal Mr. Rhea, who told us the agenda for our ILC part of the meeting. I was glad that he took the time to tell us everything! After he was finished, we all mingled and talked to some of the people who we either don't see often because they're not in our group or we hadn't met them yet. It was nice seeing the lovely Dyana So again, and it was also nice to meet some of the people going to the Hotel Management class at Cornell and those who will be studying World Religions at Vanderbilt! 
Me and Dyana after the meeting
We all then went inside and were directed to the front row seats, labeled reserved. How special is that? After an almost seat catastrophe with the Vandebilt group, we were all able to sit down and wait for the meeting to start. When my dad pounded the gavel (I didn't even know they got to use gavels!) and announced the meeting was beginning, I gulped and realized how truly serious this special we are to be given this opportunity. 

Mr. Rhea said that chaperones would be called up and told to introduce their students. I was stunned when he called Ms. Larson and Ms. Williams up first (they are Brown chaperones). Ms. Larson called up her Brown group first, and then Ms. Williams called up her group - Women & Leadership! We all stood in front of the Board and smiled. All these people were clapping for us! It was an amazing feeling. It was nice when my dad gave me a little wave - it definitely calmed me down! 

In between groups being announced, several students who did the ILC in the past came to talk about their experience and where they are going to college. Irene and Guadalupe spoke about Brown, Austin Long (who I was dying to meet and was so happy to have to have a chat with him after the meeting was done) spoke about attending Yale in the fall (the irony is he attended the Brown: DNA Based Biotechnology class last summer), and two other girls respectively talked about their journey with the ILC and how one, Beulah Agbabiaka, will be attending Columbia in the fall and the other, Yueming Wang, will be attending Cornell in the fall. Their journeys inspired me to be the best I could be! 

After the sponsors were honored with certificates and, of course, pictures, all the ILC cohorts, chaperones, and our parents stood for the group picture. Even though I got mouth cramps from smiling, it was great to sit with everyone. It was also nice to get certificates! 

Overall, I had a great time at the meeting. I can't wait to see my fellow Brownies at the Brown Orientation on June 2nd and just can't wait for Rhode Island! 
Cindy, Rebecca, and Josie holding up their certificates
From left to right: Mrs. Yip, Cindy, Mrs. Burnell, Ava, Rebecca,
Josephine, Mrs. Biteng, Myself, Mrs. Ramsey (my mom)

All Dressed Up With Somewhere To Go

During this brutal week of AP testing and allergies there were a lot of exciting Ivy League Connection events. I got to see my ILC buddies for three days in a row this week.

My father and I went to El Cerrito High School on Monday to meet Sarah Larson, my chaperone for Brown Cohort #1 this summer. I had previously tried to figure out more about Ms. Larson through her profile on Blogger and I discovered that she looked like a movie star. Our group includes Erinn Kuehne, Andrew Gonzales, Frank She, Kathleen He and myself. We discussed paperwork over pizza while we chatted about our trip to the East Coast. Ms. Larson was an ILC chaperone for Yale two years ago with my former marching band major, Yohanna Pepa, so in addition to being cool and professional, she totally knows what she is doing.

Last night was the Brown University Gala Dinner at One Market in San Francisco. Everyone and their parents spiced up the El Cerrito Plaza BART station in their fancy clothes and shoes. We were a sight to see. During the BART ride over, I had a great conversation about college with Cynthia Yip and we concluded that we are soul sisters. Once at the restaurant, I finally got the opportunity to mingle with my fellow Brown folk. I shook hands with parents and alumni. I was pleased to meet Dick Barker, who was our host for the night. He gave me a firm handshake, a pat on the back, and assured me that I was going to have an excellent time at Brown. We all conversed in a majestically spacious hall while we were served mini chickpea cakes and chipotle chicken bites. After Ava Burnell’s rave reviews, Josephine and I got Shirley Temples (a Sprite with a maraschino cherry in it). It was exciting to be fancy.

We were ushered into a private dining room and we proceeded to find our name tags on the tables within. Once we were settled, several speakers talked to us about the Ivy League Connection. The student speakers were Andrew Gonzales and Ava Burnell. They both were excellent speakers and I applaud their integrity and confidence.

My mother and I were seated with Frank She and his father along with 2001 Brown Alum Jim Sinai. Mr. Sinai works on the floor above One Market Restaurant in sales and marketing so all he had to do was take the elevator down to meet us for dinner. Mr. Sinai told Frank and me about his experience from Berkeley High School to Brown. He said, “Brown is the best place on Earth.” He told us where we could get chili dogs or hit the beach in Providence. I enjoyed Jim Sinai’s company and conversation throughout dinner. He provided useful tips for high school, college applications, and college life.

I just returned from the WCCUSD School Board Meeting which was just hours ago. Thank you, Ms. Larson, for introducing Brown #1 to the Board. I felt very proud to stand up and smile to the big names in education from our district. It was strange to not face the audience when we were being introduced to them, and it was a bit awkward staring at everyone’s backs when they stood up after us. I have to say that the ILC folks look pretty snazzy from the back.

I was inspired by the former ILC Brown Students who gave amazing speeches to the Board and the audience behind them. Thank you to Austin Long, Irene Rojas-Carroll, and Guadalupe Morales for sharing your experiences from Brown. Best of luck in your futures at Ivy League Schools!

The past few days have been full of fancy fun. I am very fortunate to be apart of the Ivy League Connection. These past events have gifted me with new friendships, the feeling of close community, ILC pride, and gratitude for it all. Thank you to all of our sponsors and ILC coordinators. Can we go to Rhode Island yet?

ILC Brown Dinner and Board Meeting

On Tuesday, May 3rd, we, the Brownie group, got the chance to really meet the people who make this program happen. Mr. Dick Barker deserves the highest of thanks for organizing the dinner and letting us all experience the wonderful event.

We first all met up at the El Cerrito Plaza BART station and then, as a group, took the train to San Francisco and walked the rest of the way to the restaurant. Our parents really got the chance to mingle and get to know the adults who play the important roles. Our group of cohorts were extra lively and got along very despite the fact that we haven't really gotten the chance to hang out as much as we would have wanted.

Today we all attended the School Board Meeting which was featuring ILC this week. Girls were expected to wear dresses and guys, ties. Once again, everyone looked phenomenal.

This was my first time at a School Board Meeting and I realized the board is very quick and gets their stuff done fast! They are a lot more interesting than I originally thought they would be.

Each ILC cohort was introduced by their chaperones and I felt proud seeing us all stand in a line next to the podium before the School Board Representatives. We have all worked hard to get to where we are now and finally all the hard work is paying off.

During introductions, several veteran ILC members made inspirational speeches. They told of how the program has changed their lives and gave us some first-hand insight. Following the introductions and speeches, Don got everyone to go to the side where a HUGE group picture was taken, complete with students, cohorts, and sponsors. The flash was hard to endure but we made it through (that's why we're all here; because we can take on the hard stuff).

Certificates were given out at the end of the event. This board meeting once again filled me in awe. It's almost like with every event, the more amazed I get. This program's worth is immeasurable is definitely a life-changing experience.

Combined Post-Dinner and Board Meeting

My apologies for having to do a combined blog post. Last night when we returned from dinner it was about 10:00pm so I immediately went to bed. The May 3rd Dinner was incredible. First we met Dick Barker, who funded this special event. Then we mingled with other donors and Brown Alumni. We introduced a few of our Brownie cohorts to the Shirley Temple (Sprite and Cherry is a great combination). After that we were taken into a fancy dining room where we listened to a few speakers (including myself and Andrew Gonzales) talk about our excitement and gratitude to be included in this program. I also had a nice time talking to the people at my table; we had some every intellectual conversations about colleges and current events. I sat next to Paul, a Brown Alumnus, and he was very positive about his undergraduate experience. After the dinner I felt more confident about the program and Brown University because I was able to meet so many people who adore the school and the Ivy League Connection Program.
A few hours ago, I returned from the WCCUSD Board Meeting. We were introduced to the board members and other members of our community. We had the opportunity to hear from students who were in ILC in the previous years. It was nice to see the support coming from the school board, the other students, and everyone else that is a part of this community. It means a lot to be surrounded by people who want you to succeed. I want to thank the board members, Don Gosney, the chaperones, the donors and sponsors, and of course our parents for making this possible. It is an experience that we all truly appreciate and will never forget.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

So Fancy - Brown Dinner 2011

Fancy clothes, amazing alums, sponsors, and leaders, and an amazing restaurant and even more amazing menu - I cannot put into words how awesome the Brown dinner was. Sitting here in my pajamas at home, I cannot believe it went by so quickly! I wish I could go back and revisit at least 8 minutes of the dinner again (Ava, Erin M., and Mariko, think Source Code!). Just kidding, if I could, I would do the whole thing over again, a million times!

My dad (Mr. Ramsey) has an excellent taste when it comes to picking out restaurants, but, surprisingly, I had never been to One Market. My mother had and told me it was excellent, and she definitely was not lying. After meeting at the El Cerrito Plaza BART station, exchanging hugs and meeting people, we crowded onto the train and rode to San Francisco. We walked a little bit before arriving at One Market. What struck me was how BEAUTIFUL the building was. The architecture was absolutely breathtaking and simply incredible. I was honored to be eating in such a fine restaurant!

Everyone mingled for a while, getting drinks and delicious appetizers. We took pictures with one another, met amazing people such as Dick Barker and Simon Hong, and just waiting to have an amazing dinner!

My dad organized where everyone was going to sit, and he did an amazing job doing it. At first I was slightly disappointed sitting at a table with all adults and none of the other participants, but I soon realized that this was my time to shine and be personable; something that is definitely one of my qualities. I was delighted to find that the woman who I was sitting next to, Lauren Brodsky, not only graduated from Brown, but was the half-sister to Andrew Brodsky, who is in my sister's grade and a boy I'd known for a very long time! It is such a small world. I was also delighted to meet the other people at the table - I regretfully forget their last names, but I remember Sue, Kevin - the man who designed El Cerrito High School and is working on Pinole Valley High School, and Linda, who is a teacher.  They were all very nice and we had great conversations throughout the evening!

The speeches made were fantastic. Andrew's speech was lively and entertaining, and Ava's speech pointed out statistics about women that I didn't know of. I definitely learned from both of their speeches and was very proud of them for presenting in front of a huge group of people. Simon Hung's speech was definitely touching; I could tell he was definitely inspired by the Ivy League Connection and happy of the people who end up at Brown University for college.

And speaking of those who are going to Brown University for college, I must not leave out Guadalupe Morales (Richmond High School) and Irene Rojas-Carroll (El Cerrito High School) who will begin their journey at Brown University in the fall. Irene is an amazing and well-rounded individual who inspires me to be the best that I can be, and I appreciate all the advice she has given me to think about for my summer at Brown. I met Guadalupe for the first time tonight, and while I didn't get to speak to her much, she was very sweet and I'm so proud that she will be the first person from Richmond High School to attend Brown University. I know these two ladies will make our district very proud and inspire those around them with their intelligence and grace.

When my dad spoke, I was beaming. I like experts, and my dad is definitely an expert at anything he does. I love hearing my dad give speeches because he addresses challenges and proposes everyone in the ILC to face a challenge: going to the East Coast and not just learning in their class and about the campus they will be studying at, but about themselves. This is a life changing experience, and I'm so happy that not only am I being given this life-changing opportunity, but that every other Brownie is as well. I know this program couldn't have been made possible without my dad, and for helping to create this program, he has my upmost thanks and love. He has been there for me since I was born, drilling in me the importance of education and trying to give me advice about classes to take in high school and where to look at for colleges. One thing he and my mother have always told my sister and I is to "think big and think ahead," and if they had never told us that, I do not think I would be the person I am today.

My dad also had good taste in picking out the menu, which was amazing! I ordered the New York steak with mashed potatoes, and my dad also made sure everyone was served chocolate cake (with a ravenous topping of whipped cream on the top) for desert! It was amazing. By the end of the night, I was stuffed.

Seeing my Brownies all dressed up and looking fabulous was great. I love seeing all of them, and I know that we are becoming a family. I'm sad we're not all going to be at Brown at the same time, but reading their blogs while I'm waiting for my experience to start will definitely be exciting! I know that we all love each other, and I don't think that this experience would be the same without the people I'm sharing it with.

A Chaotic Tuesday and a Brown Dinner

Before the Brown dinner at 5:00 PM, I had three other engagements. Today was definitely one of the most chaotic days of my life.

First I had to get excused from school for an orthodontist appointment, then I had to rush over to my doctor to get some paper work signed for the Brown Pre-College forms, I had to play a badminton game and finally got ready for the meeting at the El Cerrito Plaza BART station. Right when I got to the BART station all the pent up exhaustion from waiting for the doctor and stressing whether I might be late to the badminton game and consequently the Brown dinner, vanished.

While waiting for students and parents to come, a man was playing his erhu. I also had an interesting time talking to Adrianne about school, classes and food, on the BART and off it.

One Market had a very large room where we dined, and while we were waiting to be seated for dinner servers walked around with appetizers.

After taking some photos in front of the prism, or what I assume is a prism, we were directed to our tables.
I really enjoyed that there was a name card for my seat and the placing, although I was confused by the multiple forks and knifes.
The food was amazing, and the decorations set a perfect ambiance for the restaurant. Unfortunately, the final state of the main course paled with the initial state because I couldn't cut the chicken elegantly.

Coming back on BART was very crowded, unfortunately I don't have a picture since it was crowded, and everyone was standing. By the time I got back to the Plaza, I was happy to take off my heels and prepare myself for the next day.

Overall I enjoyed the evening; the student speakers were excellent, despite a few awkward moments of introducing ourselves to the guests at the dinner, I enjoyed the night with people who sat at my table and I got to speak to new people.

The week has just begun, yet I feel like it is already Friday, but there is still Wednesday to get through.

In one last note, I want to thank Dick Barker who graciously paid for the One Market dinner, and say, editing pictures takes a long time.

The Monday of the Busiest Week of My Life

Monday, session 1 Brown cohorts met up with our chaperon Sarah Larson at El Cerrito High School.

Before coming to the meeting, I had badminton practice so the rush from practice, which I had to leave early from, to El Cerrito was not needed, but I needed to go to practice.

When we entered El Cerrito High, we were directed to a room and greeted by pizza and our chaperone. After a few minutes of mingling, each group (the Columbia cohorts were there as well) went to its respective conference room.

Once everyone was settled, we introduced ourselves to the group, which consisted of Erin Miller, Andrew Gonzales, Frank She and our parents. Then Ms. Larson passed out some paper work that we and our parents had to sign. Unfortunately, Ms. Larson wanted to collect our Pre-College forms, but Erin and I had forgotten our paperwork. Ms. Larson was very nice and was willing to compromise and collect our paperwork on Tuesday, when we would meet up for the Brown dinner.

Ms. Larson also wanted to incorporate our suggestions into her plans over in on the East coast, and allow us time to collect our requests. She assured our parents that we would be in capable hands, passed out her information on a card and then gave out her cell-phone number.

Ms. Larson gave us a brief explanation of the following nights, the Brown dinner on Tuesday and the Board Meeting on Wednesday, where to meet up and how to dress.

Part one of Brown activities is done, now on to two and three, and hopefully it doesn't get too busy.
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