Thursday, July 14, 2011

Reflected Through A Polished Mirror

ILC is an opportunity that only a select few students from each school can participate in—I was one of the lucky few that was accepted into the program. The program is not about going to a college and completing a course at an Ivy League, it is so much more. It is about bettering my community so then I, as well as my peers, can open new horizons; it change me so then I am prepared for what lies ahead in my senior year and for college.

One of the new horizons that I considered was the difference between open core and core curriculum. Open curriculum allow students to explore all fields that they are interested in without requirements that limit what a student can explore. Core curriculum creates a guideline for students to follow, and some schools have flexible core curriculum so it hinders students less. Before listening to Brown alumni explain the benefits of an open core, I would not consider schools that were open core because I wanted structure. I was unconfident having freedom because I did not know if there would be help along the way to guide me in the right path; I did not know what would happen if I chose the wrong classes in undergraduate school. Even though I may face those problems, the people I have met have convinced me that I won’t have problems either way I choose.

Without ILC I would not have considered most East Coast schools, but I wanted to come to the East Coast. The schools that I saw were Cornell, which my dad went to, and John Hopkins. I never researched colleges that I was interested in until I had been to some actual colleges. After visiting schools like MIT, Dartmouth, Yale and Weslyan, I had an idea what to look for because I tested what the tour-guides said to what I preferred or what I thought I preferred.

On top of touring colleges, I met alums that told stories that influenced what I look for in a college and determined how I look at each college. It made me consider more than my immediate conceptions about college. Before when I thought about college, I pictured a place where I would only learn; I did not care about diversity, clubs, sports, city, campus, housing, dorm food, weather or networking (I knew that I wanted a school that could help graduate students, but I did not know what schools offered it, so I never asked questions concerning the extent of school networking). All schools have the same protocol in classes and students learn from the same standard, schools only deviate in students and the culture the students create. I would go to Brown just to be like the alums that I met because I want to be a person that is open-minded and loves her school. Seeing the school and hearing actual students beam about how great the school convinces me more than a representative at a college fair or a brochure designed to convince everyone to come to “name” school.

These alums also motivated me to start looking for colleges while I was at Brown; they helped me to get a start on college applications, and they made me think about who I want to ask for my recommendation letters and how I can make then appeal to colleges I want to go to. On top of alums that I met, I am able to work with my Brown Mentor, Susan Champion. She is a great person, who I met up with again yesterday, and despite having different interests, we were able to connect and discuss topics that interest us both. Without these people to help me along the way, I would have put off my applications to the last minute, and then I would have been in the dark and too prideful to ask for help—also help is in an inconvenient place in juxtaposition to the rest of the school, so either way I wouldn’t get my fears quelled.

Besides the actual application, I saw college life—the classroom, the campus and the dorm.

Class is something that I will have to accustom myself to; college professors have different ways of teaching that, although will teach the subject nonetheless, are confusing. When I went into my Biotechnology class, I expected the work to be hard and the lectures to be long, which I would phase in and out of. Contrary to my expectations, the professor explained everything during and after the lab; I like to have an idea of what I am doing in a lab, so this caused me to ruin some of my labs—one, I was intimidated to ask questions and two, I did not know what to ask. Over time I settled into the class. Instead of going into college with the mind-set that college is similar to high school, I am ready to adapt to whatever colleges throw at me because ILC prepared me to succeed.

Living on campus for three weeks I experienced what it felt like to be stuck somewhere—I could only get around by walking. If I could only get around by walking, which would be the same condition when I go to college, I wanted to be in a city that I could walk to. At first when I was looking for colleges I wanted a rural college, now experienced first-hand walking up a hill to Brown, I want to be somewhere that is integrated into a city—but the city must not be too populated.

I also found out what it is like to live with a roommate; it was not the best experience I had on the trip, but it something I must consider while at college. While I was only there for three weeks, if I had not known about some of the issues I had with my roommate now, and if I had to spend a year with my roommate, I would have gone crazy. My roommate and I never created “rules.” We were each sharing space and conflicting around that space. I doubt my roommate noticed my agony, but it is because I try to mold to whoever I am with, which included suffering through a very loud refrigerator, which was never used, and waiting until my roommate came into our room late at night. At least now I know I need to create boundaries with my roommate because I want to like my roommate not silently hate her.

With all of the techniques that I learned, I am bringing some back to improve Hercules High Biotechnology Program. I don’t want to let everything I learned over the summer to disappear as though I never learned it. Since so few can go to the Biotechnology program at Brown, I am going to bring back what I learned, so then it is not like a joke that only I get. This has always been on my mind, but it is stronger now because I want everyone to benefit from the one chance I got.

I feel like a Brown alums, although I was only at Brown for a short time; I want to tell more students about ILC and the Biotechnology program because it changed my life. I know a lot of students that have the same misconceptions that I had about college albeit worse. I considered going to the East Coast, but I did not have a direction; meanwhile, most students consider UCs, States, Community Colleges only because they don’t know what is out there and they have not measured their worth. Some students do not want to apply for the ILC program just because of the inconvenience of going to the office, getting a prompt, writing the essay, on the chance that they might get in. Then there is the reputation of the program—it is hard, there is a lot of writing, your summer will be gone. I compare what I did on the East coast to what I could have been doing, and it does not compare. I want to get the word out about what the ILC is; hopefully someone will ask and listen to what I have to say, so then I can change one person or more as this program has changed me.

I want to thank everyone who made this program possible: Mr. Ramsey, Ms. Kronenberg, Don, Dean Rose, the alums, including Amy Tan, Chelsea Moylan, Grace Yuen, Peter Chau, John Beck and Yohanna Pepa, Guy Sanchez for the brunch and speeches, Simon Hong for organizing the Brown Mentor Program, Susan Champion for taking the time out to help me with application and more, and all of the sponsors that made it possible for so many of us to go and learn. Although our district is failing because of budget cuts, there are people who care about us and make sure we can go past the stars. If the odds are with me, I might help the new generation of ILC cohorts and become as great as the people that I mentioned.

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