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.
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