Friday, May 25, 2012

Fancy and Insightful

Those two words completely describe my time at the Columbia dinner tonight at Jardiniere in San Francisco. I learned so much about Columbia in the span of five hours, and I know I am to learn so much more when I am in New York City. I simply cannot wait!

At 5:15 my father and I headed to the El Cerrito Plaza BART station to meet with not only the Columbia cohort and their parents, but with alums, current students, and interviewers! I was excited to see such a span of Columbia love and to meet some excited new faces.

Leonard Eisen
Aurea Riboroso
Morvarid Mehdizadeh 
 I was especially excited to see Matt Arciniega - Matt was a member of the ILC 2009 group and took Grand Strategies at Yale University. He is a rising junior at Columbia University and confirmed to me that he is a political science major and has completed majority of the Core Curriculum. Matt attended El Cerrito High School and was a senior when I was a freshman; he has been a great mentor to me ever since. On the BART train ride to San Francisco, Matt conversed with Lenny, Tomi, and I, a conversation that ranged from hilarious yet horrifying dorm experiences to interesting philosophy courses.

Matt Arciniega - Columbia University c/o 2014 (His Future Congressman Look)
After a walk through lovely and bustling San Francisco, we arrived at Jardiniere's. The inside was absolutely stunning and the smells emulating from the kitchen were ravenous. Even though it took a while to get accustomed in our private dining hall, it was nice to get to know more people! I got to meet Beulah, who is a rising sophomore at Columbia. She attended the Columbia program two years ago and graduated from Middle College High School last year. Unfortunately, we did not get to talk too much, but I learned that she is studying African-American studies, political science, and has a concentration in dance.

Arriving at the ILC Columbia Dinner
Fit as fiddles and ready to eat and learn! 
Beautiful flowers - most of the ladies took these home!
Elegant table settings
Matt Arciniega - we were lucky to sit across from each other!
Dinner menu! We had excellent choices
After Ms. Kronenberg gave the first speech, it was my turn to give a speech. Was I nervous? Most definitely! But I feel I conducted myself with grace; I received a lot of compliments afterwards. I will post a section of my speech here:
"...This will be my second year participating in the Ivy League Connection program. To me, the ILC emphasizes destiny. I am not a perfect person. I occasionally stutter, I get nervous speaking in front of large crowds, I'm short, my transcript is not flawless - the list could go on and on when it comes to my flaws. But when I'm in the ILC, all those little flaws do not matter because the program sees through all that and recognizes true potential. This program seeks to use the true potential of its participants by throwing them out into the world - giving them new life experiences, meeting wonderful people, learning about topics that aren't generally covered in our school district, and begin to truly understand what it's like to live life as a college student. I went to Brown University as a sophomore and lived life like a college student for two weeks in Providence. Why should I be giving the opportunity to do this again? As a junior, about to live life as a college student again, only this time right in the middle of New York City, I want to listen and observe more. My desire to learn more about the college applicant process is thicker. I still have so much to learn, and I like learning in different ways and in different areas...." 
Giving my speech
Morvarid was the second student speaker, and I was impressed with her testimonial about the importance of obtaining a higher education, spreading the college going culture, and how she was a first generation American-educated student in her family. My dad spoke next, and really expressed how important it is to bring something back to your community and make things happen

After the speeches were finished, it was time to eat! I absolutely loved the dinner selections, and I know Don will be proud of me for taking pictures of each of my meals. The food was to die for, and I was glad that we had a good selection of meals to choose from: 

Zuckerman Farm Asparagus Soup, Prosciutto and Duck Egg Bearnaise
Carnaroli Risotto, Porcini Mushrooms, Fava Greens, and Parmigiano-Reggiano
Hoffman Ranch Hen, Porcini Mushrooms, Heriloom Squash and Potatoes, Natural Jus
Milky Way - Chocolate, malted nougat, caramel ice cream
At my table, I sat with Matt Segal, Matt Arciniega, Ismail Ramsey (my uncle and godfather), my dad, Herman Blackwell, Reggie Terrell, and Wally! It was very interesting, there were debates going around and around about President Truman, World War II, and John Edwards. Matt S. and Uncle Ismail spoke about their days at Harvard and what the college application process was for them. It was an interesting evening.

I was excited to get a chance to speak with Malcolm Carson, who is an El Cerrito High School class of 2009 graduate and a rising senior at Columbia University. Malcolm is a biophysics major and is also pre-med. He was one of the first ILC students and participated in the program for three years, his first two summers at Brown University and his third at Cornell University. He was accepted to a stunning amount of schools, including some UCs, Stanford University, University of Pennsylvania, Brown University, Columbia University, and some more private universities. I found Malcolm to be extremely ambitious and enjoyed talking with him. He and Matt A. both gave me good feedback on my tentative personal statement topic, which I was happy about. Matt A. and I had a long discussion about education reform, the college application process, and how much he enjoys Columbia!

I also met Peter, who is an interviewer for Columbia. He gave me good advice on how to have a good interview and how it was important to take advantage of it if a student is offered it. I also met with Don Elis, who is a publisher and interviewed me for the Columbia program. We talked about writing and the importance behind it, which interested me because I love talking about writing. 

Overall, the dinner for Columbia was absolutely amazing. I cannot wait to go to New York City! I want to know all of what Columbia truly has to offer for me - this dinner heightened my interest in it so much more! I also got to really connect with my cohort; I've noticed how much we agree with one another on topics and how we all get along so well. I feel like this is truly going to be such an amazing experience.

Columbia Group Photo
Matt Arciniega and I

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