Wednesday, August 1, 2012

I Will Never Forget This Summer

To have this journey come to an end is a bit strange for me.  I remember hearing about the ILC from my friend Ava Burnell during our Sophomore year, and I knew that this was a program I wanted to be a part of at the end of my Junior year.  Well, things did not turn out as planned when this opportunity presented itself, and I almost missed out on one of the greatest experiences in my life.

I can recall sitting in Calculus one morning, when suddenly an office T.A comes into the room and hands out call slips to a number of students.  All of those students were asked to leave for the theater immediately for some presentation, so they all filed out of the classroom.  When I realized that literally all of the Juniors in the classroom, besides Ava Burnell and I had left, I was extremely confused; especially after I learning, much later, that the assembly was for an ILC presentation.  Missing this event almost caused me to entirely miss out on the program, but thanks to my former math teacher from Portola, Ms. Nakahara, I was introduced to Don Gosney and learned that there was one more summer class available at the University of Pennsylvania: The Social Justice Research Academy.

I must say that I was a little nervous during the application process, primarily because of the interview.  Don sent out a set of sample questions beforehand, which helped me out immensely.  I had mock interviews with my mom and aunt using those questions as well as some additional ones they came up with; these prepared me for the real interview more than I imagined at first.  When the day came to actually be interviewed, I was still extremely nervous, but I put on my best outfit, calmed myself down, and headed into the third floor classroom at El Cerrito High School, which was to be the waiting room.  Already, I felt just a bit less nervous when I saw how they laid out all of these snacks for us, and even less when Don came in and I was able to meet him in person for the first time.  He was very kind to us and told us not to worry because everyone in that other room was on our side.  After a little while, most of my nerves had calmed, and I felt excited to get in there for the interview.  I ended up being the first one to be interviewed, which made my nerves rise again, but I tried to walk into the room with confidence.  The interview was very professional, but I still could tell that the 10 or so people in the room asking me questions were in fact on my side; they were just trying to get a sense of who I really was, and what I would be able to give back to the program.  Once those 17 minutes were over, I felt a bit relieved, but I was anxious to hear what they thought of me.  By the time every applicant had gone, I already felt more comfortable because everyone was so nice, despite the competition.  When we were finally called into the other room to hear the results, I almost screamed out of joy because my name was the first one they announced!  I remember how incredibly excited I was to hear that I had gotten this scholarship and it still makes me smile.  Cameron Fulton and Ivette Alejandre were the other two students who had received a scholarship for the Social Justice class, and we were all smiling while Don went over the rules of the program.  What made me super excited at the end of the night was when Ivette was getting ready to leave and then she said that we were going to be best friends.  I am so happy to say that she ended up being right, because I have become incredibly close to her and Cameron, as well as the physics students: Clara, David, Alysa, and Mariko.  

This program was absolutely perfect for me because I already focus on issues of Social Justice with my dance company, Destiny Arts, and I was interested in gaining a deeper understanding of the world around me.  Although I was nervous to begin the class when we first arrived in Philadelphia, I soon felt extremely comfortable because Prof. Lamas is such an incredible teacher.  He and Michael truly widened my view of the world and got me thinking much more critically about events occurring all over the globe.  Our field trips provided amazing insight into the local neighborhoods of Philadelphia. I began to understand how deeply rooted the problems of these areas are, and how they are connected to the larger issues people face all around the world today.  This class has given me time to grow into myself in such unbelievable ways, and I cannot thank Prof. Lamas and our other teachers enough for that.

However, I would not even have had this opportunity if it had not been for the incredible hard work of Don Gosney, Madeline Kronenberg, and Charles Ramsey.  Together they truly create life changing opportunities for us young students, and I am forever grateful.  They set up a trip where not only do we students get to take amazing classes at Ivy League universities, but we have an entire week prior to those classes, during which we have very memorable dinners with current members of three other universities.  On my trip, I was able to have one-on-one conversations with students and admissions officers from Washington University in St. Louis, the University of Chicago, and Northwestern University.  All of the people I met were kind and helped me understand why they love the school they attend.  After that one week, I had a much more complete idea of what school I want to attend, which will definitely be one on the East Coast.  I cannot thank Don, Madeline, and Charles enough for this life changing opportunity, and it is because of the Ivy League Connection that I now know exactly how to reach my college goals and, in turn, create a life for myself that will allow me to make a difference in this world.  Thank you.


I remember hearing about the ILC years ago when I was a freshman in high school. I was too young to actually join the ILC , but my parents started to prep me for it in advance.By my association with Andrew Gonzales, who attended the ILC two years before me, prepared me as well. Andrew didn't know much about the program until my uncle(Ronald Bolden) brought it to his attention. Andrew took the opportunity and was selected for the program. The next thing that I experienced through Andrew was that there were essays to be written followed by interviews if selected. I wasn't surprised that Andrew was selected tome very excited because that could be me my sophomore year , which was approaching.

When Andrew returned from Cornell, I saw a lot of pictures, while he shared his experience with me. I became very excited at the possible opportunity to be a participant of this program , as I to wanted to have that same experience.

As the time came around my sophomore year, I wasn't selected . I was disappointed , however, I knew that I had one more year to apply. In preparation for this year, I knew that my grades had to be maintained so I would be selected. Andrew's second year he attended Brown University , going through the same process ,of essay's followed  by interviews. I noticed that  more students that I knew were being accepted.It was very ironic that , the people being accepted from my school , were all on the Speech and debate team, which I am also apart of.

When Andrew came back from Brown , I received a lot of information of how Brown was , along with a comparison of the two campuses . I was really appreciative to have been able to be in the ILC vicariously through Andrew. Now that his time was done with the ILC , it was time for me to join.

When my Junior year started I was well prepared for the ILC. When it came time to apply , I was one of the ones selected! This was a big confidence booster and made me very happy. The meeting with Don Gosney was very intriguing , and was similar to the things that Andrew told  me about.

The next thing I knew, I was in my room writing my and then  ripping up papers. I was going to try Physics and biotechnology. When I got my final copies , I submitted them and waited anxiously.

Soon after , I received an email of the students who were going to be interviewed. I was on the list! I was very happy once again. A few days later , I found myself in a suit heading to El Cerrito high school for my interview. The process was tedious as it was a long process waiting for your turn. There were 8 students in a room shaking while they waited for their turn. Each of them came back with a frown saying they did bad. While waiting your turn  you automatically think your going to do bad, because of the reactions of your peers.

When it was my turn to interview, the questions other than  physics were easily answered. That is the main reason I think I was not accepted into the Physics and Biotechnology program. 

I decided that I was going to persevere even though I was not accepted into the programs that I really wanted. With the help of Don Gosney , I decided to write an essay for Presidential Powers. I was accepted , and my confidence was boosted, because I knew what to expect from the interviews. Sad to say, I didn't make it, but I was glad that my close friends did. When you think you want to give up, that's when you need to persevere. I learned this when I decided to apply for the last possible program , which was Social Justice. I was accepted to go to the next level which was the interview. I thought my interview went well , and I was right. I was so elated to  hear my name come out as one of the selected students. This was the start to a long journey.

A lot of  papers were signed, introductions to city counsel members, and attending school board meetings , were all apart of the process. 

I was so glad that I was able to be one of blessed recipients of this lovely program. I  experienced a lot of things that I would not have otherwise been exposed to. I want to thank everyone that is apart of this wonderful program.Thank you  Don Gosney for providing all the things that we needed,such as valuable  information, as well as the equipment for a month long stay. Also being so dedicated to the program and most of all, our futures. Also thank you Mr. Charles Ramsey for staying on me when I became a little lazy, and also wanting what is best for me and my  future. I can not thank everyone individually , but everyone that has contributed towards the ILC,  thank you because you have played a big part in my life recently and has been a huge eye opener to what I want for my future. I know now what to expect at a higher level of education and what it takes to succeed. Discipline , focus, determination , and perseverance are all keys to be successful in any en-devour I embark upon. Thank you ILC.

An Unforgettable Summer

I remember sitting quietly during Mr. Gosney's presentation of the Ivy League Connection at my high school. It feels as though it was just yesterday when I first heard about this program. I was amazed that there was a program like this available for my school district, and that I qualified! 

The application process seemed quite simple. You wrote an essay for the program you wanted following the essay prompt for that specific program  that was sent out by Mr. Gosney. If your essay was chosen,  you'd then go through an interview. If you made it past the interview, well then you made it.

I was so surprised when I got the email telling me I had made it to the interview for social justice at Penn. I had already gone through two interviews for two other programs. There was a huge difference between the Penn interview and the interviews for the other two programs. That difference being my confidence level. For the first two interviews I was extremely nervous, and I went in there already believing I would not get the spot. I don't know what made me change my state of mind for the third interview, but I'm so glad it did! I could tell the difference in the way I answered the questions, the way I positioned my body, and I had a huge smile across my face for the majority of my interview. I walked out of the interview room with my head held high. When it was time to announce which three out of the seven applicants were chosen, I still felt quite confident. During the past two times that I had gone through that part, I was sure I wasn't going to get it. I just couldn't imagine it, I was sure that there was no way that I would ever win something like that. That is why I found it so strange that I wasn't nervous that third time around. When my name was called, I didn't know how to react. Of course I was happy, but I wasn't sure what other feelings were there, shock maybe a bit of disbelief.

Three and a half months later we embarked on our journey together. Mariko, Clara, Chloe, Cameron, Alysa, David, and Mr. Lawrence, these were the people I'd be spending the next thirty-five days with. That first week together was one of the best weeks I've ever had. Every dinner, every campus tour, every plane ride, and every minute just brought the Penn team closer together. I had no idea how close we'd all be by the end of the trip, we became a family. Every dinner was an experience, and I mean that in the best way possible. Dinning with the college students and college administrators was very helpful. I am a rising junior, so before this trip I really hadn't given much thought to which college I'd like to attend. Thanks to that first week, not only am I really serious about college now, but I now know where I'd like to apply!

When the second week came around I was both sad and excited. The second week meant moving into our dorms and beginning our classes at Penn, but it also meant that we would no longer be spending as much time together.

The next four weeks cannot be described in just one word. My social justice class was mind blowing. There could not have been a more perfect class out there for me. I was so drawn in during every class session, every discussion, every field trip, and every presentation. We covered such a wide range of topics in the class, so no two days were ever the same. I think the reason why the class was so great was because of the people who were teaching it, Prof Lamas and Michael. This was the first year this class was offered at Penn, and I think Prof. Lamas did an amazing job when putting it together. He and Michael made sure that we, the students, were always involved. They created such a special classroom environment where it felt like there was no higher authority, we were all equal. From day one we were encouraged to speak up. We tried to create judgement-free environment where nobody was afraid to say what they thought. 

There were so many things to do outside of the classroom. Summer Discovery, the program that provided the classes, made sure there was always some fun activity going on. Every single day there was something different. Along with the activities available, every Friday was movie night, and every Saturday we went on a day trip. Those day trips include a visit to New York and Time's Square, Georgetown, and Ocean City, New Jersey. If you didn't want to participate in their daily activities, their five story gym was a two minute walk away and Center City (shopping) was also available.

The whole journey was incredible. Now that I'm home it feels as though it was all one amazing dream. The diverse group of people I met, perfect class, delicious food, and beautiful campus, it is all a part of an unforgettable experience. I learned so much in such little time. There is a whole world out there outside of my community, and I can be a part of it. It's possible for me to do whatever I want in life, to reach every goal , and accomplish every dream. I just have to keep working hard, to never feel like what I'm doing won't pay off in the future because it will.

I know this is the first year that the social justice program was offered by the ILC, and that they aren't sure yet if they should offer it again next year, so to all of those wondering whether to continue it or not, I say YES. A million times yes! The class really is life changing, and I'd hate for my group to be the only group of students to experience it. It is worth it.

I want to take time now to say thank you to everybody who made this summer possible. Thank you to Don Gosney, Charles Ramsey, and Madeline Kronenberg for such an amazing organization. The Ivy League Connection has really changed my life! The donors who made it all possible! Your money is doing something incredible for the lives of so many teenagers! You aren't just giving us a fun summer, you are opening doors for us. Prof. Lamas, Michael, and Nantina, you put together a great class! Thank you for treating me as an equal instead of a student, and thank you for providing the class that you did! Summer Discovery, Ed Healy, thank you for making my four weeks at Penn so much fun! And to everybody else who was involved in making it all possible, thank you so much!  I would have never had the chance to do what I did this summer if it weren't for you all!