Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Burgers and Brown Mentors

Although I never expected to, I find that I am getting used to traveling by BART into San Francisco all dressed up. I am usually a casual dresser, choosing comfort over style, but of course one must always look one’s best at an Ivy League Connection function! This evening, my dad and I met Mr. Ramsey, Mr. Gosney, and my fellow Brownies Erinn, Kathleen, Adrianne, and their parents at the El Cerrito Plaza BART station. We were supposed to arrive by 5:30, but everyone was about ten minutes early. Perhaps we are starting a new trend for ILC participants! Everyone can only hope that it continues.

Tonight’s occasion–the Brown mentorship introductory dinner–was more relaxed than most ILC events. The dinner, as you might infer from the descriptive title, was intended to introduce interested ILC participants to prospective Brown alumni mentors. After traveling to San Francisco, we quickly made our way to the Hyatt Regency Hotel. We managed to find our dining room without too much trouble and made ourselves comfortable. Everyone circulated around the room while enjoying French fries and sliders. I met some amazing people and enjoyed myself immensely.
Lauren and Corynn Brodsky
I liked everyone that I spoke with, but I was especially inspired by a pair of sisters (Lauren '00 and Corynn '04 Brodsky) who were El Cerrito High school graduates as well as Brown alumni. Despite knowing that students from El Cerrito (Kiana, Cynthia, Irene) have been admitted to Brown, I think tonight I really realized that there are people from El Cerrito who have attended Ivy League schools. What’s even more amazing is that I actually got to meet those people. One of those people might even someday be my Brown mentor!
I am simply astounded at my good fortune.

Meeting the Mentors

On top of a wonderful Brown dinner, it was my birthday. I think it was a great way to spend my birthday, otherwise I would have been on my computer wasting my time. Instead I got to meet people that changed my entire opinion of Brown; I am even considering Brown as one of the colleges I will attend as an undergraduate. 
Unfortunately, more students would not commit enough to come to the dinner and all I can say is that they missed out on a wonderful evening full of stories of Brown and explanations of the deep connections of alums that runs through San Francisco.
Before coming to the dinner my opinion of Brown was a structureless school that is unchallenging and offers students excess freedom in classes. Although I had these skepticisms running through my mind when I talked to some of the alums, my opinion changed like some of the alums’ experiences coming to the Brown campus changed, they were slowly won over, but won over nonetheless.

I also realized that what I was told as a freshman, and was repeated this evening, was true: undergraduate school is were you explore, you do not have to have a structured plan and it won’t kill you to stray from your high school dream. I must have forgotten it along the way.

I also realized that the free core is not a bad decision. For example, I have to take classes where there are people I cannot relate to partly because some students do not have the same interests as I do. In Brown, I can bypass the awkward stage and dive head first into the studies I love and make friends faster in the environment I can thrive in. In this same environment, I can discover my true passion intentionally or unintentionally with each class I take. I can finally see what my friend Beilul Naizghi saw in this school; it is truly amazing.

Yet there is always the counterargument. I am still skeptic of the unstructured core, and I am still interested in technical school, but I am somewhat resolved to have a technical school as my graduate school and leave my time as an undergraduate at the school I like the best. The weather also detracts, but I can always overcome the Indian summers and the Frosty the Snowman winters.

After hearing the testimonies of the alums, I cannot wait to have stories of my own to tell my friends when I get back. I really cannot wait for Tuesday, but I have to admit I am not in any sense ready. I have to organize what I am to bring and coordinate with my cohorts, all in six days.

And as I mentioned, it is my birthday today so I will tell you about my cake. I can’t really compare it with the food we had at the Hyatt, but despite how my cake might look, it was sweet and moist, and I think I prefer it over the cupcakes. However the chocolate cupcake put my upside down pineapple coconut cake to shame. We also had some slider sandwiches that were delicious, but I accidentally put a lot of Dijon mustard on my sandwiches, which I can describe as putting too much wasabi on some sushi. 

I thank all of the Brown alums who came tonight that offered themselves as sources for my cohorts and I to use. I also thank Simon Hong who organized this dinner and for creating the chance for four fortunate students to talk personally to alums. I can't wait for the other activities we organize, and I wish more people took this opportunity.

Mentor Reception

Tonight we had our second Brown dinner in San Francisco, but this one was different from the first. This reception was for the Brown mentorship program, in which we each have the privilege of being paired up with a Brown mentor. There were only four of us ILCers as opposed to twelve at the last dinner, and the meeting was relatively informal, aside from our formal dress. The main purpose of our meeting was for the students to get to know some Brown alumni.

I was very happy to see Erinn, Adrianne, and Mariko again. We took the El Cerrito Plaza Bart to the City, where we dined at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco. There were three large, round tables in our meeting room with many more chairs than we needed. Originally, everyone was scattered around different tables, but after a while, we left an entire table empty and crowded around the mentors to introduce ourselves and stir up interesting conversations. The food, styled in a grab-whatever-you-want fashion, was delicious. Burgers, and French fries, and cupcakes! Oh my!
We were able to mingle with Brown alumni, ask them our burning questions, and listen to the telling of their experiences in Providence. All of the mentors were eager to help us with the college process for any school, not just Brown. Some mentors graduated recently and some a while back, but they were all equally passionate about Brown. I learned many interesting things, from the variety of students we'll meet there to the option of receiving grades versus pass/fail for a course to the extreme weather in Rhode Island. A recurring theme throughout the night was that Brown was “the happiest place on Earth”; sorry Disneyland. And from the smiles on the alumni’s faces and their continuous praises of the school, I can see that Brown is a happy, happy place indeed. Hearing their stories makes me even more eager to leave for the East Coast!

The night ended with, as usual, a group picture by none other than ILC’s personal photographer, Mr. Don Gosney. As the mentors stuck around for their own meeting, our group decided to visit the atrium on the next level of the hotel. And let me tell you, it was beautiful. We took some more pictures and finally left the grand hotel to go home.

Today was a great opportunity to talk with Brown alumni about their personal experiences. Thank you Mr. Ramsey and Mr. Hong for organizing this event.

I’m extremely excited to be assigned a Brown mentor, and I’m even more excited that Brown Session #1 departs in six days! And did I mention it was Erinn’s birthday today? Happy birthday Erinn!

Brown Mentorship Dinner!

What a great way to end the school year; no more finals, the sun has finally come out, and then the Brown mentorship dinner!

My dad and I arrived at the El Cerrito Plaza BART station at 5:20; Erinn Kuehne and her mother Charlotte beat us! The ones who signed up for the mentorship dinner were myself, Mariko, Kathleen, and Erinn. A small group, but small and sweet! We were all excited to see each other, and we were all enjoying the fact that school was over (for Erinn and Kathleen)/about to be over (for myself and Mariko).

After an enjoyable BART ride, we arrived at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. It was very exquisite, and after riding the escalator for a bit, we were happy to see a sign that said "Ivy League Connection" that lead us to our dining room. We were soon greeted by Simon Hong, who lead us into the room, where hamburgers, sodas, french fries, and cupcakes awaited us! It was a very pleasant and nice meal.
Meeting the mentors was amazing. It was so nice to not just talk to the mentors about Brown (which they all loved and praised), but to also talk about school, extracurriculars, and colleges that we are thinking about applying about. It was especially nice to talk to those that went to El Cerrito High or had children who would soon be attending these schools.
The dinner did not last a long time, but I think that was good because like I stated earlier: short and sweet. I think everyone had a great time because I sure did; and I am very happy to be a part of the mentorship program.
Mariko, Kathleen, and I

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