Thursday, May 26, 2011

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.


  1. Kathleen,

    You and the rest of the Hercules contingent made us all proud. You handled ourself superbly, spoke eloquently and looked good for the photos. What more could we ask of you?

    And yes, I may have taken more shots of the group photo than you all wanted but that's just to make sure I got at least one that is usable. People like to blink, they like to look over at their mothers shooting away off to the side or their expression just isn't up to par. It's a lot easier to take a few extra shots than it is to have to cut and paste heads from one photo to another just to get a decent photo.

    And anyway, don't you think that you and the rest deserve a top quality group photo?

    I'm somewhat amused by your suggestion that our admonition to be on time or find other plans for the summer was just a "subtle" warning. We're past subtleties, Kathleen, and into full out threats that if any of our ILCers don't toe the line that there will be consequences to pay. No one wants to come down hard and play the heavy (my turn this year) but all it takes is a few members of the group that haven't gotten with the program yet and you're all tarred with the same brush.

    Thank goodness I can count on you, though. You've been one of my rocks since long before you were selected.

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