Thursday, July 14, 2011

Hear My Thoughts

Summer@Brown has been one of the most memorable summers in my life. My gratitude goes out to the Ivy League Connection. Before I begin, I'd like to express thanks straight up, from the bottom of my heart to Mr. Charles Ramsey, Ms. Madeline Kronenberg, and Don Gosney. And also a huge amount of respect and praise to the generous donors and sponsors that make the ILC possible.

My journey to this point started at Pinole Valley High School. My sophomore year, we were introduced to the Ivy League Connection. I thought it was a waste of time. I didn't give it a moment of thought, and dismissed it as another pointless "educational opportunity." Looking back, I'm glad I made that decision. Don't get me wrong, the ILC was probably still great back then, but it wasn't the right time for me to join. As a sophomore, I wasn't ready to embark on a journey like this. I wouldn't have taken as much back as I did as a post-junior. I'm glad that I made the decision to join the ILC this year. It's like clockwork; the way that life falls into place.

I knew the ILC was something I wanted to try this year. I had no idea why, or if I would regret my decision. I think I joined for competition. Humans are competitive by nature, right? Well, no matter my initial reasons for applying, at least now I'm sure that I made the right decision. When our school's Assistant Principal went over the different programs with the potential ILC members, my mind had already made up its mind. I wanted to be in the Biotechnology program. If I failed, I wouldn't apply again. For some reason, though, I knew my determination would get me somewhere. Or, at least I hoped.

I wrote my essay, pouring out what was truly important to me; helping others. Extending a helping hand always made me feel good inside, and I tried to convey that feeling through my essay. I don't know if it worked or not, but I made it to the interview stage. I must have done something right.

I was nervous, but then again, I'm always nervous before public speaking. I think the butterflies are good. Unsettling, but calm. I was interviewed by a panel of teachers and biology professionals. It was fun, or at least I thought it was. I came out of the interview feeling good, knowing that I'd be happy with whatever decision they came to. Of course, I'd be happier if I was chosen for a spot in the class. Like clockwork, life seemed to continue paving a road for me.

Then came the part of the ILC that I didn't necessarily love, what I call: the preliminary round. It was the part that came before the summer actually started. ILC was a commitment, and sometimes I doubted if I could stick with it. Sometimes, it got on my nerve and sometimes it was a hassle. Looking back, I'm still not sure how a person like me managed to get through it. Yet, I did. I slowly saw the bigger picture, the ILC isn't meant to reward a select few, but to enhance the entire district as a whole.

With that in mind, and before I knew it, I was off to Rhode Island. There was uncertainty in the air, would our group of five become good friends? We were the first to test the waters; the first group to leave the Bay Area. I was excited. What adventured lay ahead for us? What would I learn and experience on the other side of the states? It was all a mystery. My first time flying was disappointing. It wasn't that great! Never mind that, the trip to Rhode Island was full of eager. Like a good novel, I was at the developing stages, the build-up.

Sadly, the build-up evened out. The week following our arrival at Providence, Rhode Island was full of exploration. I'm not saying that this week was bad, it was actually really, really fun. I just wanted to start class! Regardless, we used the week to get to know each other a lot better. I noticed that our group became a lot more comfortable, and we were all becoming closer friends. We even socialized a little bit with our chaperone!

The college visits were helpful. I got to see which colleges appealed to me and which didn't. A lot of the comparison was aesthetic, though. I really loved urban settings, like Boston University. Other schools surprised me, schools I would never have even thought about applying to suddenly added themselves to my list of colleges. It was an eye-opening experience. But, you can't visit every college on Earth, so how do I limit the decision? I gave it some thought, and, I plan to give it some more thought. I haven't come to an answer. But, I will definitely use my knowledge to mentor freshmen and underclassmen.

Once class started, I was already bursting with enthusiasm. And I was happy that my class was really fun. At first, it was awkward, like every normal class, but we had a good teacher and a good TA. They helped relieve the cloud of general awkwardness from the class. We learned each others names, interests, and taste in music. Some students became close enough to form relationships in our class. I found that really interesting.

Lab was difficult, almost overwhelming. Our teacher told us that we'd make lots of mistakes. In my case, she was right. She was so right, that I'm almost ashamed. I'm not though. Mistakes are healthy. Right?

Of course, I'm a better test-taker than a lab-worker. I think I did well on the tests, I'm not sure what the averages were, but I was always content with my scores. I admit that I had a tendency to lose concentration during lecture, though. My mind just wasn't as active when listening. It was due to my shortage of sleep. I advise everyone to get a healthy amount of sleep every night when at a summer program, and even when at home.

Of course, what would Summer@Brown be without extracurricular activities? Oh, and friends. I can't forget to mention the countless friends I've made over the summer. Some, I became good friends with, while some I only exchanged greetings with. No matter how close to a certain friend I was, I valued each and every one of them. I probably never would have met so many different people at one time without the ILC. Some of the people I've met at Brown, have become some of the best friends that I've ever had. I'm really thankful for that. My cohort had a tradition of thanking the donors whenever we did something together. So, thank you donors!

Brown really left a lasting impression on me. I've never loved a school like I love Brown. Spending a summer there, really has made me want to attend the school. Hopefully I get in, wish me luck? I went from hating dorm food, to loving dorm food. From hating walking as a form of transportation, to loving to walk. I went from hating to sit on grass, to loving to stand on grass, which isn't much in terms of improvement. I did move to love beaches, and to love throwing a frisbee around. I found out that I'm a horrible soccer player too! Tons of fun and learning took place at Brown.

Summer 2011, the highlight is definitely my trip to Brown. But the story doesn't stop there. I'm going to use the motivation that I acquired at Brown to push me forward. In terms of tests, applications, and education. I aim to end my procrastination, and to commit to self-improvement. I haven't become a new person because of this summer program, but I have definitely and undoubtedly been changed. My views have changed, my ideas, my habits, my personality (a little), and my outlook on life. I definitely miss the program. I miss the people, the environment, and the classes. I'll never be in exactly the same situation again. Not with the same people, or with the same set of experiences. It's over, but I'm happy it happened.

I learned a lot at Brown. How do I plan to bring it all back? I'm not particularly sure. I don't have a formulated plan to pay the ILC back for everything. I'm just sure that somehow I will bring it back. In the form of tutoring? In the form of storytelling? Somehow, the knowledge will be spread. I can't say for certain how, but I know life will come together in a way where I end up giving back, somehow. Trust me.

1 comment:

  1. Frank,

    Thank you for the heartfelt reflections. It's always good to read what our ILCers think about their experience.

    Here's something for your consideration about how you can give back: Talk to your fellow students about your experience with the ILC so they don't have the same dismissive attitude about the program that you say that you initially had. It's only through their interactions with the ILC alums that prospective ILCers can understand what's entailed, what will be expected of them and what they might get from the program. This is how you can give back, Frank.


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