Thursday, July 16, 2015

What a Difference Months Can Make

Several months ago, I was an incredibly different person.  I was only a couple months away from being a senior, which, to me, was the equivalent of being thrown into the wild.  Also, if anyone was to ask me to name ten colleges on the east coast, I would fail miserably.  The only colleges I really knew about were Harvard and Georgetown.  I believe that almost every student in America knows Harvard University just because of the fact that it's Harvard, so I don't really consider this university as one considering any amount of research.  The only reason I knew about Georgetown was because of legendary basketball player Patrick Ewing.  When it came to naming Ivy League colleges, I was stumped.  It's now July, five months since I was initially let into the Ivy League Connection.  To say that my life has changed would be an understatement.  

Growing up in the Bay Area, I was raised knowing about three colleges; U.C. Berkely, U.C.L.A. , and Stanford.  That was pretty much it.  Sure I knew about various U.C.s, but these were what I considered to be the core of California.  Outside of these two, the only colleges I'd ever hear about were the ones on ESPN.  There was obviously Duke and Kentucky, for example, the goliaths of college basketball, as well as Ohio State University and Florida State University, the big dogs of college football.  I knew about Oregon because, being a cross country runner, Oregon was pretty much the holy mecca of collegiate running.  Needless to say, my knowledge of colleges around the country was pretty limited. 

With the Ivy League Connection, all that changed.  When applications came around, we were immediately presented with seven different Ivy League schools, most of which I had either never heard of or known that it was an Ivy League school.  When we began our trip to Cornell, the Cornell cohort and I were able to visit three prestigious schools in Emory University, Georgetown University, and University of Pennslyvania.  Not only did I see what the campuses looked like, I was able to experience the feel of each individual college and evaluate it on my own terms.  Granted, I cannot visit every college in the United States, but going on college tours for these three gave me an idea of what to look for when it came time to decide where my home for the next three years would be located. 

There was also the matter giving me an idea of the high school to college transition.  The previous two summers, I attended Contra Costa College.  I gained college credit, but the class felt like an extension of something I'd see at the high school level.  This class was something completely different.  Here, nothing was given and everything was earned.  I didn't have anyone holding me personally responsible for doing my work.  It was only me, myself, and I.  I had to make sure that before getting caught up in the hijinks of college, I was doing all the work I possibly could to ensure that I was prepared for what the Debate and Rhetoric course had to offer.  Because of that hard work, not only was I was able to secure a solid A in the class, but I learned what it would be like to be thrown into a college class and have to work from the jump.  

Without this program, I have no idea what the past few months would look like.  I wouldn't have met some wonderful people, whether it be through the Ivy League Connection or through the Cornell program.  I wouldn't have gotten a taste of the college application process.  I certainly wouldn't know what a college class felt like.  And, the most important aspect of all, I wouldn't know what it meant to grow up.  And being a rising senior, that was the biggest lesson I needed.  This might be the first time I directly say it, but it certainly won't be the last: Thank you Ivy League Connection.  

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Thank You Ivy League Connection Program!

My summer has kicked off to an amazing start. If it wasn’t for the Ivy League Connection Program, I wouldn’t be able to have travel across the country to experience something my school or anyone for that case could offer me. Getting into this program wasn’t a piece of cake. Something I’ve realized was the programs selective application process is very effective and useful. From the essays to the interview selection, this process made me understand what the college application will be. Just like the college application, student will have to compete with one another. Every students I this pool of students has a great GPA and amazing test scores, but just like college admission advisers, the advisers for the Ivy League Connection was looking for students who could set themselves aside from the others. Going through this process has definitely boosted my confidence for the college applications I will have to do soon.

When I got accepted to the program to go to Cornell for the summer to take the Hotel Management course, there was still work to be completed. Accepted students had to be accepted into the summer college. It was an endless battle to meet deadlines for important documents and essay, but from this I learned to be persistent and motivated throughout the whole program.

The first week of the trip was dedicated to touring different schools in the East Coast. The Ivy League Connection Program strongly believes in opening students eyes to different opportunities. They want students to understand, there are so many school outside their comfort zones that are just as amazing and prestigious. Through the program I got to tour Emory University, Georgetown College, and University of Penn. I learned a lot about the application and what they require. Yes, the application requirements is something that we all can get from a website, but something that a website cant offer is the college atmosphere. Going on the different college tours allowed me to see the school’s culture. It allowed me to actually feel what it was like to be on the campus and helped me decide whether or not I like that certain environment or not. We all can see beautiful pictures of the school online, but being able to see it is a whole different experience and a give us a different perception of the school.

When the week of travel in to different schools was over, we went to Cornell. From Cornell Summer College, I learned so much about the college life. Having the chance to live the college life changed me for the better. I discovered and more aware of the hard facts that go along with being a college student. And no I’m not talking about having to do my own laundry. I’m talking about having to live with other students and what it means to be courteous but at the same time holding grounds on some issues. I’m talking about what it means to be independent. Having to live in a building with so many other girls, has taught me to be more cautious around other and understanding to compromise. Don’t get me wrong, I love blasting music when I work just as much as the next guy, but some students don’t have the same perspectives as I do. I had to understand that some students need dead silence to concentrate. I had to acknowledge other people’s perspectives and feeling towards certain issues and had to compromise to be courteous to others.

I also learned that living in a dorm has a lot of independence, but there a lot more responsibility that comes with it. Another thing that I learned from living in the dorms was how to keep the dorm room clean and how to allocate time throughout the day to keep it clean. This deeply ties into having great skill of managing time and being able to work around a schedule. But it also has to do with having a great organization system dedicated to the type of person the student is. Being organized is important and alike to being in a lab, a clean and organized work place is easier to work with. Living at Cornell, I noticed certain things that I could incorporate into my organization style that would benefit me in the long run.  In addition, I learned to be more social with others. Having a better relationship with the floor mates, is a beneficial relationship. Not only is a new friend acquired but they are willing to help whenever it’s needed.

Along with living in the dorms, I learned a lot more from the course that I was attending. Something that I have always been interested in was the business field. With my parents owning their own small businesses, I was always involved in business since I was young. I would help my parents with the business as much as I could. Being part of the Ivy League Connection gave me a better understanding of the business world. The class taught me useful skills that I can use wherever I go. These skills include how to correctly use the Microsoft Applications and how to write and deliver a business proposal. The course I took gave me a hands on education that extremely applicable to real life.

Through my encounters in Hotel Management, the three week course, became a student who is more responsible, diligent, determined, and prepared. My course was rigorous and persistent to its curriculum. For me to survive this course I needed to be motivated and determined to improve myself. This class definitely made me a more disciplined student when I came to finishing work and working in groups. I really appreciated being in this class. Regardless of the long hours and hard work, I believe my course prepared me the most for the future. This include getting prepared for the coming year and college as well.

Throughout my experience, I’ve learned that there is so much out there. I’ve learned to try new things and not to be afraid to get out of my comfort zone. What I have experienced is all the things my school can’t offer to anyone. My fellow peers don’t understand that the opportunities outside of California is countless. There is no limit to what they can and cannot do. When I come back, I plan on promoting schools in the East Coast and the Ivy League Connection Program to the students. I plan on appealing to the new class of underclassman and the current class of underclassmen, to apply to the program. I believe all students should have the equal and right opportunity to educate themselves through this life changing experience. In addition, I will be involved in helping next year’s applicants by guiding them and helping them anyway we can. Through the various clubs I am involved with I can help next year’s applicants and promote the program more. For example the JSA Speech & Debate Club I am Co-Presidents for, I can set up mock interviews where students can practice on their speaking skills and their skills to think on their feet. I am hope to work with my other peers to set up college presentation on school in the East Coast. Most students don’t know what colleges outside of the state are looking for and what they require. With this informational presentations, I believe that the students will keep their options open when applying to different school.

I am so thankful for the Ivy League Connection Program for investing in my school district and their students. I can’t explain how grateful I am to have experienced this journey and I can’t wait to help the next generation experience it as well.

The Experiences Outweigh the Possesions

My time at Cornell is truly my highlight of this summer. During my time at Cornell, I met four amazing friends that have made my moments worthwhile. Lucy, Reese, Rachel, and Melissa are the greatest people I have ever met and to picture my time at another summer program, without them, seems unimaginable. We shared funny moments like when they poke fun at me for saying "hella" and "heacka," and how they gave me a new nickname, "T-ma." I would like to say a few words to the friends that shaped me during my time at Cornell. 

Lucy, you were the first person I met during our first meeting with Professor Gilovich. At first glance, I thought you were the cool, popular girl from next door, but that prediction was wrong. Instead, you were the bubbly, cute girl who laughed at everything, distinctly my bad sense of humor. Your ability to giggle at the tiniest moments brought joy to my days, especially during my tough, questionable times. I enjoyed our moments together, walking to class with Reese, and singing Disney songs in my room because being with you opened up my heart. 

Reese, you are the first guy friend that I ever met during the three week program. I know I always say this, but you are a really nice person. You helped me during the difficult times in psychology, and even volunteered to go swimming with me. I can't tell you how much our friendship means to me, it's just that unexplainable. The moment that the your bus left Cornell, I realized how heartbreaking our separation actually was. I truly respect you, for all that you have done to help me, so thank you Reese. 

To Rachel. We had some hilarious moments together, whether it was watching Korean dramas or waiting for you to come back from the studio, I loved it. It was always a pleasure to hear your stories of Hong Kong and understanding how talented people are in international schools. You opened my horizons when I was at Cornell. You called me "T-ma" for the longest time, and even though I rejected that nickname, I found it cute. Your hobbies, achievements, and goals are admirable, especially the octolamp that you made in your design class. I truly admire you, and I hope that one day we will meet again whether it is in California or Hong Kong.

Lastly, Melissa. Melissa, I remember the day when you finally arrived at Balch. You were the last edition to our floor, and meeting you was exciting. We bonded our community service clubs, and had a blast watching Korean dramas. Remember the canoeing day we had in the hiking club? Our arms were dying by the end of it because we were constantly pulling deep into the water. At the last stretch, we were really cruising by, until we had some inequality in which we had to reverse and then build up our momentum again. It was truly a memorable moment. We were able to bond immediately when we first met each other. We joked around in Rachel's room and had our hilarious moments in the bathroom. My memories with you were worthwhile.
Thank you for making my days at Cornell fun. It was an honor to meet you guys and I can't ask for anything more. Lucy, Reese, Rachel, and Melissa, it was fun being friends with you guys, thank you so much. 
I can't believe that the three weeks are over. To be honest, I never would have thought that I would take a psychology class but taking the course at Cornell opened my horizons. I had a very memorable experience at Cornell, and it is thanks to the Ivy League Connection. 

I can't express my gratitude for this amazing experience. It was definitely a great way to start my summer in a new environment with different people across the globe. Once I was at Cornell, I had an open mind. I wanted to absorb as much of my surroundings as possible because I wanted to share my experiences with my fellow peers back home. This opportunity is something that I will never forget. I learned about the many colleges in the East such as, Emory University, Georgetown, UPenn, and especially Cornell. I learned a lot from my two international friends, Reese and Rachel, about their experiences living in Hong Kong and going to an international school. I imagined their experiences in my head, and pictured my experience if I were to study abroad in Hong Kong. It is definitely a choice that I will be looking forward to when I go to college. My interests in colleges in the East have increased because of the ILC.

The Ivy League Connection does change your perspective of the world. I remember the first time listening to Don's presentation, and not fully grasping the whole idea of going to a prestigious school and taking a course. But with this opportunity, it is a reality. I never really believed that I had the capability to be able to attend these Ivy League Colleges, but I am wrong. Being able to be apart of the Ivy League Connection is truly one's will to take part in this organization. I will motivate rising juniors and sophomores to be in this program. I remember a day in class when we were talking about achieving happiness. It was about focusing our lives on our experiences and not on our materialistic possessions.So, I would like to thank everyone involved in making this opportunity possible and I can't wait to share my memories and see next year's group of talented individuals. 
The Best Cohort Ever!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Just the Beginning

I’ve known about Berkeley and Stanford all my life. My parents would plaster the bear and the tree all across the house to acknowledge that these were the two schools that I should aim for. The IVY League connections has opened my eyes to the many other schools outside of California.

I used to think that a school was just a place for learning. Of course, that was a major part, but there is a lot more to consider when it comes to choosing a college. I thought as long as I got to learn, I’d have a wonderful four years. My visits to different colleges through the IVY league has shown me that the weather, the surroundings and the atmosphere created by the students are also key variables to consider. My time in Ithaca made me realize that my next four years had to be in a place where I wouldn’t bake under the hot sun in the morning and swim to my dorm in the evening. I also found out that I’m a city person. Being a student leader in my school community, I’m eager to share my discoveries with others.

Speaking of sharing, I already see a lot of places where my newfound knowledge about business computing will come in handy. My mother owns a small store, and I’m sure she would greatly appreciate a set of beautiful business templates. In addition, as the Hercules Head Club Commissioner, I’m constantly staring at outdated and incorrectly formatted event proposals, minute’s forms and other club related paperwork. With my skills, I’ll be able to create new templates for the students to make their paperwork look more professional and elegant. In the three years the leadership class has been running, we have gone through several systems of management, each year trying out new ideas and scrapping old ones. My skills about management will also help the leadership classroom develop a more structured and efficient work force. Not only can this be applied to the small class, but I’m sure the thirty clubs on campus would like guidance about running a club. Every club president takes the role without any training about management. As a result, there are only two types of clubs on campus—those that do well, and those that have two members each week. By providing management lessons to clubs as a part of orientation, I’m sure the clubs at Hercules High will be much more efficient. I’ve got a lot of exciting plans for the school, so be prepared Hercules!

Aside from improving my school, attending the IVY League has brought a light to my community. Hercules High School and the West Contra Costa Unified School District has always been viewed as negatively. A disruptive incident years ago always seem to usurp the cover of the newspaper and determine what our schools are. The IVY League has provided students with the opportunity of representing these schools and showing the world what it really means to be a Titan or a WCCUSD Student.

All in all, this passion about giving back would not have existed without the ILC. Not only has this program supplied me with the knowledge to be able to give back to my community, but also the confidence. To juggle taking a college level course, adapting to a new environment and writing about my daily adventures is an achievement that says I can do anything. The past month was difficult, but it has made me more confident in myself. I am so grateful to be blessed with the opportunity of taking part in this program, and I’m certain that I’ll be able to bring back more than I’ve taken from the past month.

The ILC is for Me

Three people helped get the Ivy League Connection program become what it is. Don Gosney, Madeline Kronenberg, and Charles Ramsey. Three amazing people that I can not thank enough. The amount of work and money put in for the students is unbelievable.

What is the Ivy League Connection? The ILC is a program that gives students from the West Contra Costa Unified School District a chance to study at an Ivy League University for a few weeks. The students are not alone, for they have their cohort and chaperone, but they are away from their parents and siblings. This allows them to experience life away from home and how college life is. During the program, one is expected to behave well and to try their best on any assignment given. There is low tolerance for slackers and trouble makers from the ILC and the universities staff as well.

My experience with the ILC is one I will never forget. From the moment Don called the assembly to introduce the ILC to when I returned from Ithaca, New York in a fancy limousine. The ILC began with my mom pushing me to apply. Curious about it, I followed through and surprisingly did not get into the first two programs I applied to. However, I did not give up and applied to the Hotel Management course. This time I was accepted and given the spot to interview for the class. The day of the interview was a day I was more than nervous. Seven students interviewing for three positions. My chances were not in my favor, but I spoke with confidence and did not shy away from showing who I was. As they announced the applicants who got in, my heart dropped. "Shanti, Julie, and... Stephen." I could not believe my ears. Was I really accepted? The amount of adrenaline that raced through my body was incredible. After multiple pictures and congratulations, I headed home with a smile and story to tell.

One of many adventures you will experience as an ILC student
The opportunity given to me from the ILC was one I can not thank them enough for. I was given a chance to study at Cornell for three weeks and visit three different universities, Emory, UPENN, and Georgetown. I also, had the chance to meet new students and adults from around the entire world. As a result of all these opportunities, I have enhanced my social skills, strengthened my public speaking, learned a lot of interesting information, and most importantly, learned how to blog.

I have learned a lot while in this program. Information that I wish to share with my community. Many of my classmates do not know how applying to colleges work. Most of my school is scared from applying to East Coast schools because it is "expensive", but do not know that they give more scholarships than public schools. This type of information should not be kept a secret, but told to the public on a continuous basis. My job now as an ILC student, is to spread the word and involve and persuade more students to participate in more programs like the ILC. Prove to them that if you try hard enough, you can achieve what you want, but only if you put the time and effort into it. My friends, family, and community got me to where I am.  Now it is my turn to give back and help to the fullest extent possible.

Thank you Don, Madeline, and Charles, for I will greatly appreciate the amount of work the three of you put into the students. Hopefully, one day I can give back to my community as much as they do and encourage others to do the same.

Connections to the World

The Ivy League Connection is a program that students can't even understand how great it is until they experience the opportunity themselves. The ILC is a chance for students to be an adult, talk to adults in college settings, and really start prying into their futures. Everyone can take college tours, but not everyone can talk to school alumni and current students. Those with monetary wealth can go to elite summer programs at Ivy League schools, but many students can't. The Ivy League Connection makes that possible for students like me. Thank you.

Without the Ivy League Connection, I never would have known what kind of college I was looking for. I only understood what I needed after this experience. (I'm looking for colleges near cities, where students can intern and get job experience while they're in school. It's a bit more complicated than that, but that's the general idea.)
 The experience at Cornell University hopefully will not just be limited to benefiting me. Now I can return to my school, talk to my friends, and be able to help them figure out their college future. I also have so many contacts now, from many different schools, whether they are graduates or current students. All these people want to help high school students, and now they can help other people other than me. I've learned what it sounds like to be surrounded by students who want to learn, and now I can hopefully try to make that environment more present at my high school.

There are not enough words to describe, to explain how important the Ivy League Connection is. To all the adults behind this organization, you are changing lives even though you may not realize it. You're changing the lives of the students from the West Contra Costa Unified School District, and you're changing the lives of the people those students are going to be helping, to be interacting with. Please, never forget the power that you have to help the next generation, because this generation has a lot of problems in the world it needs to fix, and it could use your help.