Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Does this mean it's official?

Today, the ILC was invited to the West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) School Board Meeting. Each cohort was presented before the board, parents and local TV, by our chaperones. We were then each given a certificate in light of our accomplishments as a part of the ILC. Winston Long, an alumni of my high school, and a student at Yale University, gave a speech on the importance of this program. We also finally got to see the sponsors of the our trip.

After the speeches, every ILCer, all of the chaperones and all of our parents who came to the evnt gathered in a huge group photo. We take one of these every year, and each time it gets bigger. I can't wait to see this hanging in my school's front office, just like the one from last year. Thanks again everybody. I can't wait to have dinner with all of my class mates tomorrow.

We're going to learn how to take over the world!

Actually, the four ILC students who are participating in the Yale program are. But, hey, maybe they can teach us a thing or two! Just kidding. Tonight, the term "taking over/ruling the world" came up a lot - this was a key term that symbolized the Ivy League Connection Representation: School Board Meeting. Every single ILC participant has the skills to take charge of not only their education, but society as well. Each program we are participating will teach us exquisite leadership skills.

Seeing all the ILC participants was a treat. I got to meet some new people and reconnect with some friends I hadn't seen in a while. We all piled into the Lavona Dejon Middle School auditorium and went over a quick agenda with Mr. Vincent Rhea (former El Cerrito High School principal), who always leads the presentation.

Kelly Xi (taking DNA-Biotechnology at Brown University) and I    
Emily Cain - ECHS sophomore. She is taking Women and Leadership at Brown University 
Lucas Lochner-Bravo - Taking Constitutional Law at Columbia

Tomi Balogun - Taking Constitutional Law at Columbia

Aurea Riboroso - Taking Presidential Powers at Columbia
Clara Lengacher (left) and Mariko Whitenack (right) - Both ECHS juniors who are taking Experimental Physics at the University of Pennsylvania   

Calvin Kuang (left) and Emily Hayashi-Groves (right) - Both ECHS juniors, Calvin is taking Freedom and Justice at Cornell University and Emily is taking Macroeconomics at Brown University 
Being presented in front of the school board for the second year in a row was an honor. I felt really proud standing with my cohort and holding up a blue Columbia flag. I absolutely cannot wait to go to New York City! The countdown is on, and I simply cannot believe we will be in the Big Apple as soon as we will be. Time is flying by so quickly! It was also nice to hear how excited the other chaperone's are for their trips!

A special treat was hearing speeches from two past Ivy League Connection participants who are at Ivy League schools. The first speaker was Austin Long, who graduated from Pinole Valley High School with the class of 2011 and is a rising sophomore at Yale University. I met Austin last year, when he was a senior, and marveled at his public speaking skills and his ease and kindness with others. He spoke about the importance of the Ivy League Connection and really encouraged every single one of this year's participants to take advantage of the opportunity and really bring something back to the community.

Austin Long - Yale University c/o 2015 
The second speaker was my close friend Terilyn Chen - she is a current senior at Hercules High School and will be attending Harvard University in the fall. Not only was Terilyn accepted to Harvard, but she was also accepted to Brown University and Cornell University - a truly admirable feat. I could not be more proud of her. In her speech, she talked about how through the Hotel Management Course she took at Cornell through ILC last summer she learned to "expect the unexpected" - for example, during her Harvard interview - after the usual talk about extracurriculars and academics - the interview turned into talk about the Spongebob Squarepants interview! But since she was used to "expecting the unexpected", she was not thrown off and remained confident. Obviously her confidence paid off!

Terilyn Chen (Harvard University c/o 2016) and I
After hearing these speeches and receiving ILC certificates, all the parents and ILC participants came together to take this year's group photo. I am so excited for everything that lies ahead of us, not just for the Columbia group, but for all ILCers!

School Board Meeting

Today was a day where all the cohorts from each individual Ivy League Connection program united to represent not only themselves and their schools, but also their community and district in the School Board meeting. During the meeting, many past ILC students and future Ivy League students spoke on behalf of this amazing organization as well as our very own chaperones whom introduced us on live television. After recognizing the founders of this program and the sponsors who make it happen, we too were also recognized with awards for our academic excellence and acceptance into our individual programs. It was my honor today to represent not just myself, but my community and my amazing district that made this all happen. In events such as today, we allow others to realize the capabilities of our district, notice the bright individuals in our very own community, and the local opportunities that allow us to achieve this much.
The more events I have attended through the Ivy League Connection, the more passionate I have become for my community, district, and this program as a whole.
Again, thank you so much Ivy League Connection for making these experiences possible for us, and thank you sponsors for making this real.

School Board Connection!

Today, I had the pleasure of attending West Contra Costa Unified School District's School Board Meeting held within Richmond's LaVonya DeJean Middle School. The Meeting was even televised! Live broadcastings were aired on Pinole's PCTV Channel 26 and 28, Richmond's KCRT Channel 28, and the City of Hercules' Cable Channel 28!

The Meeting began with the Pledge of Allegiance and then moved on to a brief introduction of the Board of Education's members--which was composed of a committee very prestigious and dedicated school officials, including Ivy League Connection's very own School Board President Charles Ramsey and teacher Madeline Kronenberg , as well as a young girl who served as DeAnza High School's Student Board Representative.

During the event, I was not only able to get a first hand look on how the School Board operates, but I was also made aware of some of the problems plaguing the District. The main focus tonight's meeting were the budget cuts threatening the District's Adult Education Department.

Many teachers and students alike spoke out for the protection of their beloved program. In total, there were 17 speakers, each allowed two minutes before the Board to share their opinions. Even those who spoke poor English were even brave enough to cross the language barriers and defend their right for for a proper education. One woman even brought her 6-year-old to up to the microphone to talk about how she wanted her mother to continue going to school so that they could work on their English together.

Seeing all those people allowed me put my own views into perspective. I believe that everyone--no matter race, religion, or age--deserves the right to a better education and that we as a community should work to preserve the Adult Education Department's funding as we do our children's. Luckily, it seems as though the School Board agrees with me, as they seemed to rule in favor to rework the District's budget to allow the continuation if the program.

After the Board Members finished deliberating on a few more issues, it was the Ivy League Connection's time to shine. Each group of cohorts were to stand before the School Board whilst holding their respective school's flag as their chaperone introduced each student individually, as well as the courses they'll be taking and the other colleges that they'll be visiting.

Since we were introduced in alphabetical order by the name of the schools, my Columbia cohorts and I were set to go third, headed by our chaperone Mrs. L. My fellow Constitutional Law students, Leonard Eisen, Lucas Lochner Bravo, Adrianne Ramsey and I held Columbia's flag as Ms. L introduced us as our two other cohorts taking American Presidential Power at Home and Abroad: From George Washington to Barack Obama
Aurea Riboroso and Morvarid Mehdizadeh. The other colleges that we are set to visit include UPENN, Vassar, Yale, Sarah Lawrence, and New York University.

To be honest, I think that the introduction was both exciting and nerve-racking. Not only was a being watched by an entire auditorium of people, I was being shown on live television! I was so nervous that something awful would happen like me tripping while getting up, or making a fool of myself in front of the school board, or Ms. L pronouncing my name wrong! However, when I was waking towards the front of the room, I I began to calm down and I honestly feel proud for being able to take part of such a wonderful program. After our introduction was done each, of us was awarded with a certificate commemorating our acceptance into the Ivy League Connection Program.

After all the introductions were done, two former Ivy League Connection students, whom both of which currently attend Ivy League Schools gave speeches about the experiences with the Ivy League as well as how it helped them prepare for their future.

We were then treated by a few more speeches from the School Board as continued they further praise the Ivy League Connection and all of its bright, capable students. After the last speech honoring the ILC concluded, the School Board Meeting was adjourned. However, the night was still not over for us ILCers.

Chaperones, students, and parents began to position themselves for this year's panoramic photo of the Ivy League Connection. After about 25 blinding camera flashes, the Meeting was finally over after 3 hours of sitting, standing, and smiling.

ILC Cohorts: the Next Rulers of the World

Tonight the cohorts of the Ivy League Connection attended the WCCUSD school board meeting to be recognized for being accepted to such a great program. Various speeches were made, ranging from chaperons escorting us to previous ILC alumni who attend and plan to attend Ivy League universities. After the speeches, sponsors and the building blocks of the ILC- Mr. Ramsey, Ms. Kronenberg, and Don Gosney- were also recognized for their work into making and supporting such a admirable program. Pictures of the cohorts, parents, sponsors, and organizers were then taken.

It was such a honor to represent not only myself but my school, my district, and my program. The ILC really is a privilege to be a part of; I have the opportunity to experience a college level school and course while enjoying the different surroundings of the East Coast. Tonight's milestone event has not only opened my eyes but the eyes of viewers on the educational value the WCCUSD possesses. The ILC is not only an academic program; it's a life experience that will open one's mind to the world around one's self, creating a future leader of the world.