Saturday, August 18, 2012

From the Father of Rachael Redlo

We want to thank you and all the supporters of the Ivy League Connection for the wonderful experience our daughter Rachael had this past summer. Rachael’s experience, from our perspective, helped her grow and mature as she prepares for College next year.

Some reflections:

The itinerary was well organized and we appreciated the fact that it involved both parent and student involvement. The college experience to be successful involves all parties.

The pre dinners and meetings with previous alumni was very helpful and gave us a flavor and sense of the experience.

The Cornell Program was challenging with too many students in the class at once in a packed lecture setting. The time frame was exhausting at times. The students had class morning afternoons and nights, Sunday included. I thought that it might have been better to not be so compressed and maybe give the students a chance to experience other resources and opportunities at Cornell. The experience for most Ivy League colleges, however may be similar, so it may not have been bad to feel some pressure to finish a great deal of work on time.

The opportunity to visit other external campuses and spend the first few days on field trips was great. I think it gave the students a chance to experience other Ivy League schools. It was also good for the students to experience other cities specifically on the East Coast where cultural differences may exist. California at times can be very different from the East Coast.

Lastly, I would mention the advantage of the students talking to each other and reporting their activities in addition to talking in front of groups about their experiences and observations. I think this is all part of the learning experience and a great opportunity for our students to express themselves and practice their communication skills.

Again, we want to thank you and all the supporters, Board members, contributors and support staff that made this experience so important and memorable for Rachael and the rest of the students.

Bob Redlo

From the Parents of Alexander Wing

Our son, Alexander, had the most memorable, exciting summer participating in the ILC program at Cornell University. The ILC gave him numerous opportunities, starting at the very beginning with the essay writing and interviews for the program, the orientations and the chance to meet and interact with the supporters of the ILC, Cornell alumni and present Cornell students at the Bay Area Cornell dinner. The dinner was a wonderful opportunity for Alexander to interact with people he did not know and to engage with them on an adult level. Prospect Restaurant was so elegant and the food was delicious - a perfect venue for the event.

The college visits on the East Coast were very well organized and they were most helpful and eye-opening. Participating in the college tours with fellow high school students, and not with his parents, put Alexander in a position to be independent and to figure out for himself what is important for him in choosing a college. He is definitely interested in pursuing colleges on the East Coast and the ILC program gave him a taste for college life in the east.

Once at Cornell, the support from the ILC and the fantastic guidance from Mr. Chan-Law and the Cornell cohort enabled Alexander to learn and grow. He thrived in the academic and social environment at Cornell and he has called this experience for him “life-changing”. The requirement of a daily blog was an inspired addition. Not only did it enable Alexander to reflect on his day, despite how busy he was with his coursework, but it also allowed us at home to follow his activities and get a sense of how he felt about his experiences. The “Freedom and Justice” class surpassed his expectations by providing him with the knowledge to think, defend and support his opinions and to express his ideas verbally and in writing. He received a solid introduction to Plato, John Locke, Communism, Socialism, among other schools of thought, and an understanding of how they relate to present-day thinking, society, government and law! That is quite an accomplishment in only 3 weeks !

The ILC program is phenomenal and words cannot express the appreciation we have for Mr. Ramsey and Ms. Kronenberg for coming up with this vision, bringing it to fruition and for continuing to make it better. A huge thank you to Don Gosney for his tireless efforts in keeping our kids in line, holding them accountable and for arranging the thousands of small but important details that it takes to run and organize this program every year. We would like to thank Mr. Chan-Law for being an amazing chaperone, for keeping our kids safe and stimulated and for being their friend and mentor. And finally, to all of the very generous supporters of the ILC - none of this could happen without you and we thank you for giving our son this opportunity of a lifetime.

Yakesun Wing and Debbie Hayakawa-Wing

From the Parents of Eric Wilson

Overall, we thought the ILC program was excellent. We knew nothing about the ILC prior to Eric’s applying, and we were so pleased to learn that such a program exists in WCCUSD. It was an outstanding opportunity, and we feel very gratified that the district is putting this level of effort into challenging our high-achieving students. A program like this has the potential to raise the bar for everyone. We are grateful for the efforts of those who run the program, as well as the sponsors who invest in our district.

Eric enjoyed the Freedom and Justice course at Cornell and was challenged to work at a higher level. Through the lectures and especially the discussion sections, he gained a broader perspective on learning that we are sure he will apply to the rest of high school and college. The visits to the many eastern universities were a great part of the program as well and really kicked off the college consideration process for him. It is a rare opportunity to meet admissions officers and alumni and receive guidance on the admissions process! Eric is strongly considering applying to Cornell, Penn, and perhaps others. Without the ILC, I believe his consideration of these schools would have been very unlikely.

Eric also enjoyed the support and company of his chaperone, Mr. Chan-Law. Eric thought the level of oversight was just right, and he enjoyed the extra trips and activities, such as to Colgate and Cooperstown, that Mr. Chan-Law provided for the cohort.

In short, a great experience and opportunity. Thanks again to the ILC leaders, team, and sponsors who make this possible.

Patrick and Amy Wilson

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

From the parents of Eric Wang

Our son Eric is back from ILC’s Cornell University program. This is his 2nd and last participation the ILC. Like other parents, we followed his cohort’s blogs daily. It’s obvious he and his cohort got a lot from it. What great experiences and fun memories it was for him and his cohort! Through the program he made many new friends and expanded his area of academic interests. This program has done much more to him! He learned through this program that a lot people in his community care about education and would go out of their way to support a program out of modest means. He learned that there is a great deal of support from his teachers and school administration staff. He learned that he needs to be responsible and live up to expectations to be good ambassador of his community and school. Above all, he learned that only great leadership can make such programs possible. We cannot think of a better program that can do all those. As parents, we feel so lucky our son was given such opportunities. On behalf of our family, we would like say a big “thank-you” for everything the ILC did for our and all ILC students

To donors, it’s without a doubt that your generous support will be remembered for many years to come, and surely made a positive influence on our son. On this point, we think we speak for all parents. The ILC program gave all of them opportunities to experience what would otherwise be impossible! Once you kindle their aspiration of trying to be as good as they can be, there is nothing that will stop them from pursuing their dreams. Some of the ILC participants will continue on the journey you put them on through your generous support. They will remember where their journey got started, and find ways to make sure the same generous spirits you taught them live wherever you call home. Thanks you for teaching my son and all ILC participants a valuable lesson of life.

To ILC leadership, your tireless efforts and unwavering support are amazing. We all know that it is no easy task to organize and administer a program like the ILC. You believe not only we can do it, but also do it with the highest standards. We appreciate you made every effort to include more students in the program and at the same time hold the same high standards. Starting from the 1st meeting, you showed that safety and students’ best interests are always at the core of this program. We are so impressed with attention to details in the program’s administration from the trip checklist, campus visits, to all group activities. It comes as no surprise that our son enjoyed his every visit. Thank you for setting a fine leadership example, and proving a great opportunity to our son and all other participants.

To students who cannot make up their mind, you are missing an opportunity of your lifetime. There are only a very few high school students who have a chance to experience what is like living on an Ivy League campus. It’s all right you are not thinking about those schools yet. Visiting them alone is well worth your efforts. Get ready for the next ILC announcement!

To parents who have doubts what ILC can do, you maybe think too hard for yourselves. First of all, going through the ILC selection process itself is good experience regardless of outcome. Your children will learn to present themselves to a selection committee much the same way they would have to in a situation of a job interview. Secondly, chances are you are not quite as good at organizing a college trip as ILC does even if you have desire and means to do. The ILC has done a superb job to organize the program and your children are in a safe and positive learning environments. Thirdly, it really does not matter which program your children get in to. All ILC programs teach them critical thinking and problem solving, skills required in any profession. Having your children to work with other students from other areas can broaden their view in a great way. Lastly, the truth is that our children are not always cut out for what we do. Some of them can do a lot more than we can ever imagine. All they need is to have a peak at what is possible. Let’s give them a chance! ILC is designed to do just that. Encourage your kids to give a try, they do listen to you!

Finally, thank you, ILC, for everything you did on behalf the school district. Let us know if there is anything we can help.

Parents of Eric Wang

Monday, July 30, 2012

From the Parents of Frank He

A great program, a great experience
We would like to give our hearty appreciation for our son Frank He’s participation in the 2012 Ivy League Connection Hotel Management program at Cornell University. Frank enjoyed the trip immensely and gained a broader insight into top universities. His experience will be invaluable to him in preparing for the college admissions process.

The Ivy League Connection provided Frank with a taste of being independent. This was the first time he lived away from home, and he learned to care for himself as well as mutually support his fellow cohorts. It was very beneficial for Frank to experience the independence of college life.

We have observed that the program’s blog is a great platform for the participants to reflect on their days and express their feelings. It is also a great way for parents to catch up on their children. Reading Frank’s blog was our pleasure and allowed us to follow his adventures on the East Coast. We felt that Frank matured as a writer through his daily blogs.

Visiting Ivy League colleges and attending the Cornell summer course were the two main parts of the program, and both were very beneficial to the students. By visiting UPenn, Columbia, Princeton, and Cornell, Frank learned of the various academic atmospheres of these colleges, which may later influence his college choices. The Hotel Management course was wonderful from what the students described in their blogs. We believe that the trip was a very valuable experience that will help the students in their future academic endeavors. We also appreciate the hard work of the Cornell teachers and teaching assistants.

The Ivy League Connection is an amazing program organized by the West Contra Costa Unified School District. As parents, we would like to sincerely thank the WCCUSD School Board, especially Mr. Charles Ramsey, Ms. Madeline Kronenberg and Mr. Don Gosney for their time and dedication to our students.

Thank you all so much!
Dao-Yao He and Chun-Mei Xie

Sunday, July 29, 2012

From the Parents of Calvin Kuang

We can truly say that the Ivy League Connection is the most valuable program to our family. It not only guided our children (Jennifer and Calvin) to reach a higher education—getting into college (which we did not have the chance to do when we were their age), but also allow them to see another world outside of the Bay Area and explore some of the top colleges in East Cost. This is all through the hard work and great dedication of the people in our school district, the supporters, and donors. For that, we cannot thank the ILC enough.

The four-week trip to the East Cost touring colleges and attending the Cornell summer program, Freedom & Justice, brought Calvin great joy and memories. During the first week of college visits, he had the opportunity to see different colleges, learn their cultures and get the first hand experience of their campuses, which widely opened his eyes and helped him understand what college he will be a better fit in.

The following three-week course at Cornell, it really provided Calvin the opportunity to experience what college life is: independent, decision making and time management. As a result, he has gained confidence in himself especially in writing. Reading his blogs each day, we could see Calvin’s writing has improved; he had a great time studying and living at Cornell. He enjoyed the lessons from professor Kramnick—which lit up his world. He misses his class, professor, TA, and all the friends he made on the campus.

After the one-month ILC experience, we found him to be a more grown up and mature person. We have more confidence in him making his own independent choices & dealing with difficulties when facing pressure and challenges. Calvin now has a better understanding of colleges and interesting courses. He is so fortunate to have this lifetime opportunity, and he knows he will give back by doing his best in school and helping the community and others as well.

We would really like to thank the Ivy League Connection for giving Calvin the opportunity and widening his knowledge and experience.

We want to thank all the people who made this possible: the administrators, the sponsors and the donors. We truly believe no other school district is like ours that the management is so much involved & engaged with students, I always admire the strong leadership from Mr. Ramsey, Ms. Kronenberg, Board members, and all the staffs involved. We really appreciate Don and Alfredo Chan-Law so much for their dedicated works.

Sasa & David Kuang

Thursday, July 26, 2012

My Month Away

Writing this final blog took much longer than expected. My time with the ILC cannot be easily summarized.

The time I spent on the East Coast and specifically at Cornell may have been the focus of my time with the ILC, but it was a headly all encompassing. The journey truly began months ago in an assembly at El Cerrito High School in which Don Gosney and Madeline Kronenburg introduced me and a chosen group of my schoolmates to the ILC. While many people, including some of my closest friends, scoffed at the idea of going through all this effort just to go to school in the summer, I immediately loved the idea. Just the name Ivy League Connection drew my interest, and I knew this was something I wanted to do.

The process began with a simple request from Don, to read and reply to his emails. The next step was not so easy, that was when the work began. The pre-essay, in which I had to explain  why I wanted to be a part of the ILC, what set me apart from the rest, and how I would give back was the first essay I wrote. By the time I finished my pre-essay, I had narrowed the classes I was interested in down to Physics and Freedom and Justice. Since I knew almost nothing about physics, I did not expect to get in that program, but writing the essay proved to be a valuable experience. I was overjoyed when I finally got the email saying I was one of the few chosen to be interviewed.

I clearly remember the day of the interview. I was dressed in my nicest clothes, and prepared with the advice of nearly everyone I knew. Don's quick introduction calmed my nerves a little bit, but looking around the room at all the other bright, young academics I knew it would be a battle to earn my place. Luckily my nervousness vanished the instant I stated my name at the very beginning of the interview, and it ended up going very smoothly. By the time everyone had  finally finished their interview, the judges had had their time to convene, and the candidates lined up I was practically shaking with anticipation. My name was the second one called, and right from the outset I was pleased with my selected partners, Alex and Calvin, but I had not idea of the amazing group we would become. I have a fond memory of the three of us walking back to class (coincidentally we were all in the same math class) and deciding to stay in our suits as a symbol of our victory.

I had months between the time I was chosen,and when I actually departed to the East Coast, but they were far from free. School was major part, with the various tests, papers, and trips associated with the end of the year. The pre-departure ILC events were milestones which characterized my feelings. During the Freedom and Justice Dinner, my first event, I was very lost and, along with my excitement, a feeling of anxiety started to grow, especially when our books were handed out. Over the course of the next events, the orientation,school board meeting, and Cornell Dinner, I began feeling more and more confident and ready for the trip. The ILC does a really good job of picking and preparing us and there is really no reason for us to fail. The school board meeting put the pressure on. I understand the honor which had been laid upon me, and the responsibilities which came with it. The orientation summed everything up, and by the end of it I knew I was ready to go.

I blogged everyday during my time at Cornell, so there is not much more to say. It was the best experience of my life so far. I will always remember the friends I made and the times I had. I made a very special connection with my cohort, which I hope to maintain. The college visits opened my mind to the wide range of options out there, and importance of the high school time period. The class itself was life changing. I constantly find myself referencing and connecting everyday aspects of life to what I learned. It made me think in a much more mature way, and I feel very at home talking to adults on the same level, as intellectual equals. The course greatly enhanced my love of learning, Living alone also changed me as a person. It made me further appreciate the work ethic my parents instilled in me. It prepared me for college living, I know what to expect, and as a famous quote states, "knowing is half the battle." My stay at Cornell made me realize college is about more than an academic education. It is an experience which  can (if the person is receptive) shape and mature young minds in to the minds of intellectual and capable adults.

Now I am home. Everything is done. All that is left is wating for my grades to arrive. That and reflection, and, of course, preparation for the next school year. The ILC gave me the opportunity of a lifetime, and truly changed my entire perspective. I am going to encourage everyone know to try and become a part of this program. I intend to participate again myself (in the Yale Grand Strategies program), but if I do not make it in, I will not be too upset. I had my chance, and I know the ILC would not chose a bad applicant. Whoever goes deserves to be there, and I want as many people as possible to experience this life changing program. I will do everything I can to support this program, and encourage going to college. I owe the ILC a great deal of gratitude.

My time on the East Coast was the experience of a lifetime. Thank you Don Gosney, Madeline Kronenburg, Charles Ramsey, and all of the donors!

Sunday, July 22, 2012


Well, it’s hard to say it, but it is over. Throughout this past week, I knew that I had to write a reflective blog on my experience of this past month but I never really wanted to write it. This is more than a reflective blog; it is symbol. The moment I post this on our blog site, it truly means that our trip has ended: something I never wanted to happen. The time I spent in the East Coast has been extraordinary, but before I further reminisce, let’s start from the beginning. 

My sister, Jennifer, was part of the first Ivy League Connection cohort in which they went to Dartmouth College. After seeing how the ILC impacted her life, I knew I had be part of the ILC. I remember where this journey began. It was before Don even had his informational session at the El Cerrito High Performing Arts Theater. I emailed him asking for more information regarding the application for the ILC. Day after day I would pester him to go into deeper detail about the application process until Don finally told me that I will understand it better once he gives the information session.

There is a famous saying that goes: “third time’s the charm.” This phrase could not have been better suited for my situation. I had received interview opportunities for three different programs: Macroeconomics at Brown, Constitutional Law at Columbia, and Freedom & Justice at Cornell. Since I didn’t find any luck with the first two, Freedom & Justice turned out to be the charmer. Once Alex’s, Eric’s, and my name were called as the ones chosen to attend this program, I knew it was going to be fun.

Once everything was running smoothly, we had a taste of what was to come, literally. Through dinners with Cornell alumni and ILC alumni, I gained a lot of insight of life at Cornell. Such dinners made me ever so excited to leave at that very moment and fly out to Cornell. Furthermore, our fancy dinner at Prospect in San Francisco was just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the restaurants we would eat at in Philadelphia.

Before I knew it, I was standing in front El Cerrito High School freezing along with the others in the Cornell cohort. It was time, we got into our charter bus and headed towards the airport to embark on what was to be a priceless journey. When the airplane took off, it was time to leave all our dependency and comfort of home behind (although our first week of living was far more luxurious than any of us could have imagined). Honestly, I was ecstatic about leaving home and being independent.

At the airport, we drew cards to see who would room with whom in the hotel in Philadelphia. As you may already know from previous blogs, I got Eric Wang from Hercules High. I’m not going to lie, I initially wanted to room with someone from El Cerrito or get the single room (Alex got that one). However, rooming with Eric Wang was the best experience I ever had. Every night, we would stay up late blogging, playing computer games (mainly golf), watching movies, and laughing endlessly during our conversations. We ended up being the best of buddies.

Our first week in Philadelphia was filled with campus visits and fancy dinners. I can’t say I’m not going to miss those dinners, but everything in moderation, I guess. As for the campus visits, we went to University of Pennsylvania, Columbia, and Princeton. Out of all three, UPenn appealed to me the most. From these tours, I realized that I prefer a large campus over a small one. Throughout the first week, we all became close friends and it was sad seeing us go our separate ways once classes started at Cornell.

The experience I had at Cornell is one in which words cannot describe. It is one of those experiences where you have to tell others “you had to be there!” Cornell seemed to have further cast a charm on me. For the first time ever, I enjoyed waking up early in the morning. I enjoyed going to class and listening to an hour and a half lectures. I enjoyed studying. I enjoyed writing my paper. If this is what college is like, then I am extremely sad that I still have one more year to go before that. Of course, Cornell had its flaws, not in a sense that Cornell did anything wrong, but more because of personal taste. I guess this problem comes with every college: the dining hall. The first week, we all thoroughly enjoyed the food there and would go for seconds, even up to fifths. However, towards the end of the program, we could barely eat one plate of food before looking at it with queasy stomachs. Throughout the three weeks at Cornell, never once did I miss home. Cornell became my home.

Over the course of the three weeks, we made some incredible and unforgettable friends. We were heartbroken when our time together ended and we went our separate ways. You see, these aren’t the friends in which you will see next week when you decide to hang out at the mall. Most of these friends we may never see in person for the rest of our lives. Nevertheless, these friends will be the ones we will never forget.

I will truly miss my time at Cornell. Everything from our discussion sessions to our billiards games in Robert Purcell Community Center. Throughout this experience, I have grown as a person, individually and academically. I have become more outspoken and outgoing. More importantly, I have learned proper social protocol from all the dinners with the admission officers of the different colleges. As for the academics, I feel that my writing skills have improved. The most important skill I have acquired over these three weeks at Cornell has to be time management. Never in my life have I managed my time well enough that I don’t feel stressed.

There are many people that I would like to thank for making this opportunity possible for me. Firstly, I would like to thank my family who would pester me endlessly about how I am wasting my time and thereby giving me motivation. To our chaperone, Mr. Chan-Law; your easy-going, yet authoritative, personality made it very easy to connect with you and made the trip very enjoyable. I would like to give my cohort a big thank you. We shared many memorable moments and laughs (especially those times when we would yell profanities when we almost forgot to blog). You all were a huge factor in making this trip from good to extraordinary. Finally, I would like to thank a million times over to everyone affiliated with the ILC, from the alumni to the sponsors. You all have kept the ILC running and reputable. I would like to especially thank Don Gosney, Mr. Charles Ramsey, and Mrs. Madeline Kronenberg who all have been the backbone of the ILC. No matter how many times I say thank you, I can never do it justice. The opportunity the ILC has given me is priceless. As for now, goodbye Cornell, may our paths cross sometime in the future.

It has finally come to an end, but at the same time, this is the beginning. The ILC has opened my eyes to the many possibilities outside of California. As for now, I will be leaving for a service trip to Nicaragua this coming Wednesday. I believe that the ILC has in some way helped me prepare for this trip as well as in my future college career. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I will dearly miss blogging every night in the comfort of my 95 degree dorm room. To keep this going, I will be blogging during my trip in Nicaragua. Should you feel so inclined, you can follow me on my new blog:

Thank you ILC!  

Me and My TA, Gaurav
Me and Professor Kramnick

Looking Back

It's different, really different being back at home. I had grown accustomed to getting ready for class in my dorm when only Hotelies would be up and about in the hallways of Mary Donlon Hall, to greeting the lady who swiped our IDs at the Robert Purcell Community Center, and to walking to the Statler School of Hotel Administration with Frank and our international friends Julia, Jiyoon, and Andrea. Cornell is so far away, but I will always have a small part of Ithaca that will travel with me wherever I go.

Even before the ILC information meeting at Hercules High School, I already knew that I was going to apply for a second year with the ILC. I wrote two essays this year - one about hotel management, and one about what I know is expected of an ILCer. I wrote both essays and was selected for an interview which I was prepared for and felt went pretty smoothly. I feel that this process is necessary and that the ILC should keep the selection process, the school board meeting, and the city council speech the same for next years applicants.

The only pre-trip milestone event I would suggest some changes be made about is the dinner. This years dinner at The Prospect was absolutely delicious. I only wish that I didn't sit next to another ILCer because I feel that if the members of the cohort are more scattered, then the conversation would be more personal, more along the lines of the interests of both the alum and student, and will make it less likely that the alumni will spend time catching up with one another.

I enjoyed the college tours very much. I liked the fact that the three schools we visited were all extremely different. With UPENN, we got a taste of a school that is located in a large metropolitan area but retains its sense of campus. Columbia was similar, but we got to see a school whose campus is really the metropolitan area and whose demanding core allows for virtually no class variety for the first years of college. Finally, we got visit Princeton, located in a small town that really exists for the institution. Compared to the two other colleges, Princeton was the smallest and quietest, so we really got to visit not only three world class universities, but three world class universities in three very different settings. It really provided me with a sense of what I like and dislike about college campuses.

Cornell is amazing. I loved just about every aspect of Cornell. I lived in Mary Donlon Hall on the fifth floor. Since students at Cornell only really need air conditioning for the first few and last few weeks of school, there is no air conditioning in the dorms. I dealt with the heat by spending all the time I was allowed to spend in the lounge in the lobby which has several tables for work, soft couches for relaxing, people to meet, and air conditioning. I loved the lobby because it became the place where just about everyone went to. People from all the dorms ( Donlon, Risely, and Balch) came to Donlon to hang out and get work done. I met so many new friends from across the globe just by being in the lounge.

My dorm had everything that I needed. I had a double, but no roommate so I had twice the amount of space as everyone else on my floor. I had two of everything, but soon, I reserved the other half for Frank who would drop by my room when we were both working and he didn't want to disturb his roommate who was already sleeping. We bonded and enjoyed each other's company as we worked. We also helped each other out whenever we could. If one of us needed something that the other person had, we'd share. One time Frank needed some toothpaste, so I shared mine with him. When I described this incident to my friend at home who graduated from Cal, he laughed and said "Now you're getting the real college experience!" Although I didn't have an assigned roommate, having Frank living (sort of) in my room gave be a preview of what having a roommate is like.

I absolutely loved my class, Hotel Operations and Management: Tactics for Profitability. My class was taught by a professor couple Mark and Reneta who crammed what is parts of several college classes into three weeks. Mark gave us a couple lectures on how to be effective presenters, leaders and the like in addition to walking everyone through working with various computer programs such as Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel. Mark made learning so much fun. His serious, no nonsense attitude kept everyone in line, but he employed his sense of humor to great effect which made what could have been really boring lessons really captivating. Reneta lectured the class about the hotel industry from the brands and chains to how casinos try to attract and keep customers on the gambling floor. While her lecturer were a little dryer than Mark's, her lectures were extremely interesting because not only did she give us the strategies that hotels use, she explained the reasoning behind the strategies which made me realize that I can apply these strategies to my CHESS hotel simulation. Her lectures lit my brain on fire as I scribbled down notes and plan for my hotel and tried to figure how I could best apply the strategies. In addition to Mark and Reneta were our fabulous T.A.s who were on the search for anyone who needed help. Our T.A.s went the extra mile and stayed late with the class at office hours and even stayed available through email until the early morning/late at night hours replying to our every question. Words cannot describe how great of a job Mark and Reneta did as professors and how great of a job the T.A.s did in helping us survive being a Hotelie!

Finally, I want to write about our cohort. I will never forget our cohort playing baseball with a plastic bat and a wiffle ball on the lawn to the side of Donlon. We established a unique bond and camaraderie that normally takes much longer to establish. I think I can say that we will all be really good friends for a long time.

The Freedom and Justice guys: Calvin and I bonded while being roommates in Philly during our college tours by trying to impress each other with impressions and by being absolutely miserable at online golf. His great sense of humor and desire to have fun made the trip so much fun! I had an gut feeling Eric Wilson had to be a cool guy as soon as I saw we had the same name, and my gut feeling was correct. Eric would always be the first one to want to hang out with and meet new people. Like Calvin, his sense of humor and nice personality allowed for the two of us, Eric Squared, to become quick buddies. Alex was always the calmest of our group. He was the most outgoing of us and wanted to meet new people and do new things. I vividly remember us spending time playing catch and him teaching me how to throw certain baseball pitches. Playing catch became one of our must-do events and each time we had time and a ball to throw, we'd play catch.

Hotelies: Rachael is a independent person who found her own way and own things to do at Cornell and I respect that. It was nice to have her in our cohort. Before this trip, Frank and I knew who each other were, but never really talked to each other. During the trip, we bonded by debating if Ryan Lochte would get more gold medals than Michael Phelps at the Olympics and became the best of friends. Some of our fellow Hotelies would stop Frank and I (Freric as Mark, Julia, and Jiyoon call us) walked to class to ask if we were brothers or best friends from school and we'd explain that we'd never really talked until this trip. I'm not sure if people believed us or not, but that just goes to show that we became very good friends very quickly.

Our chaperone Mr. Chan-Law, is an amazing chaperone. He was on top of everything from the moment was in charge of us. He was extremely organized and researched how to get to and from places as well as making sure that everyone was doing well in class. In addition, Mr. Chan-Law made a concerted effort to make sure we had fun at while we were on the East Coast. He planned a trip to Cooperstown to visit the baseball Hall of Fame as well as a trip to the local state park for the Freedom and Justice guys. His welcoming personality made everyone feel safe and contributed to the quality of time at Cornell. I truly appreciate everything Mr. Chan-Law did for our cohort.

Last but not least, I want to thank everyone in the ILC for making my experience so wonderful. I want to thank all the sponsors for making this journey possible. I also want to thank the program directors: Don, Mr. Ramsey, and Mrs. Kronenberg who have put in countless hours and long nights to plan every aspect of our experience from the information session to our arrival at SFO. The work they have done is the main reason the Ivy League Connection has been so successful and will remain to be successful for many, many years to come. This is only the beginning of a bright future for the ILC!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

A Conclusion to a Fantastic Journey

Cornell feels like a distant past now. It has only been a week ago but being back here makes Cornell seem like one of my childhood memories. Though it feels like a long time ago, everything that happened there feels crystal clear, even back when this all started. With all these memories fresh in my head, I can't help but think of a time when I didn't really want to be involved in this program.

It has been over half a year since Don first visited our school, but I still remember him giving a detailed description of this program: the Ivy League Connection. Of course, I knew of this program before this, seeing that my sister already attended the Brown program for macroeconomics. I remember a few things that happened on that particular day. Don told us the responsibilities that needed to be met when receiving this scholarship as well as the rewards that were given to the ILCers. Close to the end, the ILC alumni were there to share their experiences with us. This was the deciding factor that made me want to be in this special program. They were very sincere when describing how great their experiences were.

Step 1 of 2 started with some essays. I had to write two essays to apply for the Hotel Management program I sought to be in. One was the pre-essay to show how I was committed to this program, and the other one compared the similar management tools used in motels and high class hotels. I spent time checking, re-checking, and re-checking again to make sure there was no mistakes on it because this was the only program I applied for, and I didn't want to get rejected. Once I passed the first step, all that stood in my way was the deadly interview. I was pretty nervous because I had very smart people to compete with. Miraculously, I managed to grab a spot with Eric and Rachael and we became the new ILCers that were setting off to Cornell.

After all the applications were finished with, everything seemed to pass very slowly. It always seems like when I can't wait for something, it takes longer for it to come. There was a gradual buildup of events before actually departing, with a presentation at the council meeting and orientations preparing us on representing this district almost three thousand miles away in elite colleges. The dinner with the Cornell alumni before our trip gave me a preview of what to expect, and I was even more excited to fly off. Finally, it was time to leave the Bay Area and come to the East Coast, and it was worth the wait! I couldn't have asked for a better four weeks or better people I met at the Hotel Management class.

The first week of the four week adventure started in Philadelphia, and honestly, I never lived such a luxurious life. When we arrived at the Inn at Penn, and I knew that it was going to be a sweet week. The hotel was four diamonds and the rooms were much better than I thought. Every day, we went out to a fancy restaurant, and as each day passed, it felt as if the restaurants got fancier. I never thought that this program had so much money, all from our wonderful sponsors, whom I cannot appreciate enough. Living the fancy life was not the greatest benefit I gained from this week, but it was actually getting to know all my cohorts. This was the perfect time for all our cohorts to bond with each other before setting off to Cornell. I wasn't sure how they were going to be like, having only briefly talked with some of them. I didn't want it to be an awkward month with my fellow ILCers, and eventually, we all became friends. Each and every one of my cohorts were wonderful to be around with. Even our chaperone, Mr. Chan-Law, the coolest person I could have asked for to watch over us, didn't felt like he was being a parent that was telling us what to do and not do, but enjoying his time with us, making our group like a big family.

My experience in Cornell was just as exceptional, if not more exceptional, than our week at Philly. It is true that the hours for Hotel Management was incredibly long: from 8:30 AM to 3:30 PM and then 7 PM to 9 PM. However, it all went by fast because it was interesting and fun to be in class. To be truthful though, I was dying during the first few days of class, purely because I was not used to such a long school day, especially only with one class. It got much better after a couple of days. In fact, it was so enjoyable that the three weeks flew by as if the days seemed like mere hours. 

One of my goals at Cornell was to meet new people, and I feel pretty happy in saying that I met my goal. I've never met so many different people just in my class alone (we had 80 people in the class though). I've met people from different parts of the country, from New York to Pennsylvania to Houston. Yet, there was, in my opinion, just as many international people as there were people from the U.S.A. I tried to get to know these people that didn't live like I do in America. There were people that came from as far away as Russia and China, and it was surprising to see how many Chinese people there were in Cornell. These new friends made this journey all the more memorable.

As with all great adventures, our's finally and sadly came to an end. There was no doubt that there were some tough times, like one almost all nighter, and a three hour lecture, but I will certainly miss everything about Cornell, especially the people. Even those 15 minute walks to and from class will be wished for once I'm back in school, and as surprising as it sounds, I'm going to even miss our food. The RPCC was getting a little boring in the end after eating the same things over and over again, but I would choose that over our school lunch anytime. Above everything else, I'm going to miss seeing everyone from Cornell. I'm glad that that El Cerrito is fairly close to Hercules, so it wouldn't be too hard to have some reunion with all our ILC cohorts anytime soon.

I am very appreciative to the time and efforts of everyone that helped us travel to the East Coast. Mr. Ramsey, Mrs. Kronenberg, and Mr. Gosney took their own money and leisure time to make this whole program available for us. If I knew how tiring it was for them, blogging probably would seem like a game, but I'm glad that this was the least I could do for them. 

For the Last Time...

This past week has been different.  I haven’t heard the signature AT&T ringtone that had served as my morning alarm for the past month.   I haven’t met Calvin and Eric for breakfast at the Robert Purcell Community Center, or made the journey to Goldwin Smith Hall with them.  And I haven’t let a moment pass where I do not miss my days on the East Coast.

This has not only been an investment of a month, but an experience that has been about seven months in the making, ever since Don had made the trip to the El Cerrito High Performing Arts Theater to host an informational assembly regarding the opportunities that the Ivy League Connection can provide.  I was immediately interested in applying for the programs, as I have had friends who had participated in various courses last year and had loved it.  At this point, Brown’s Macroeconomics and Cornell’s Freedom and Justice were the two programs that had attracted me the most, and that is where the journey had started. 

“Explain how the ‘ban the box’ movement has affected the rights of convicted felons versus the rights of employers and coworkers.”  In summary, my answer to this question was a turning point in my journey with the ILC.  After not being selected for the Macroeconomics program, Cornell’s Freedom and Justice was the next course where the essay was due for admittance into the interview stage.  The “ban the box” movement was a social advancement to eliminate a checkbox on the common employee application that asks whether the applicant has been convicted of a crime in the past.  My suggestion to revise the box and develop a separate confidential document to elaborate on any past convictions of an applicant might have seemed to be a deciding factor, as I joyously received an e-mail inviting me to participate in the interview stage of the process.  After much preparation followed by a successful 20 minutes in front of a judge panel, I was admitted as a member of the Ivy League Connection. 

Of course, along with all the delight and relief that I was experiencing over the next couple months, I also did not know what to expect going in.  Luckily, I had the support of friends, family, and even people that I didn’t know but was so lucky to encounter, such as regional Cornell alumni.  Through our dinners with past Summer College students, including two friends of mine, and our luxurious dinner at Prospect in San Francisco, I was able to gain the best insights on what my experience on the East Coast will be like.  I was so grateful for all the people that were able to guide me along the way prior to our departure.

As much as I would love to retell all the day-by-day events that we experienced between Philadelphia and Ithaca, you have all heard it before and I could spend my time speaking of other things.  Our time in Philadelphia was a great introduction to the East Coast.  I was able to get to know our cohort, especially the Hercules kids, and had a great time traveling by myself.  The university visits have been extremely beneficial; I was able to decide what I want in a college and, just as important, what I don’t want.  We explored a great variety of schools, which shared many similarities and differences even though they are all belong to the Ivy League. The University of Pennsylvania stuck out to me as the most attractive, especially through the campus visit and our tour guide’s ability to not only explain what the school has to offer academically, but what activities and social life are present on and off the campus, something the other tour guides did not explore in depth.  I have found out that a suburban campus is my most preferable choice, but while visiting Princeton, and later Cornell, I realize that a more rural campus has its advantages as well, such as an active presence on campus.  In contrast, Columbia University had to offer not only a superior level of academics, but also a lively off campus options in the heart of New York City.  Nothing better helped me get a sense of a great college than our three weeks at Cornell though. 

Summer College was a life changing experience.  In and out of the classroom I learned a great deal of things.  I am so grateful for studying under Professor Kramnick and Ulas, they provided us with a level of education that could be found nowhere else.  Professor Kramnick was able to revolutionize the way I will ever think about the topics of freedom, justice, and equality, and has succeeded in steering the definition of “lecture” away from “boring” for me.  Ulas has been an agent in my greatly improved writing, allowing me to develop a clear and concise thesis especially. They have changed the way that I think and have already identified differences within myself based on the improvements that I have made during my trip. 

I have also developed socially through this trip.  Along with my cohort, I was able to meet so man new people who were all very friendly and considerate.  Learning about people’s backgrounds and cultures fascinates me, and this course provided me with the perfect opportunity to meet these people.  I am going to miss all those days downstairs in the Uris Library and playing pool in the Robert Purcell Community Center with all these people that I am unfortunately not going to be able to see again.  The opportunity to make new friends from all over the world has really been a valuable experience that made this program all the more special.

One of the reasons why this trip was so memorable was thanks to our cohort.  Our group was so cooperative and easy to get along with and really made a difference in the success of this trip.  As the journey continued we really started to behave like family.  In fact, according to the Cooperstown Hall of Fame family membership, the seven of us are a family! I would like to thank Mr. Chan-Law especially for his exceptional leadership and responsibility throughout the trip; he was a great mentor and friend who stuck it through with us during the extent of the trip. 

In addition to my cohort, this trip could not be made alone.  I want to send a second thank you to all of the Ivy League Connection administrators and generous sponsors, especially Mr. Ramsey and Ms. Kronenberg, members of the WCCUSD School Board, and Don Gosney, who does a marvelous job organizing and keeping contact with all 40+ ILC students.  Also Professor Kramnick and Ulas for delivering their masterful level of education to us.  And Asher and Riley, our R.C.A.s who did the best job in making us feel welcome at Summer College and provided a smooth transition into dorm life at Risley.  And once again to our cohort, who made this trip all the more memorable.  This truly has been a terrific experience that I will never forget.  I cannot believe how much I have changed as an individual and how important this trip was for me in determining my future.  Though this may be the end of a wonderful journey for me, the next step is to educate the next generation of ILC Cornellians as they will make this trip on their own next year.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Final Good-Bye

I can't believe it's finally time for the final blog. I won't necessarily miss it, but it does mark the end of this trip. It's a bittersweet feeling.

I did not do much today - for once, there were no quizzes to study for, no office hours to go to, no phone calls home to make; it was my first real day of summer vacation. I did volunteer from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM at Richmond hospital; it was good to get back to my regular routine. Tonight I am starting a new book series, and tomorrow I am running with my dad in the morning. I almost feel like I am in a dream - that I really never left Cornell, and tomorrow class starts at 8:30 with an hour-long lecture with Reneta, followed by some computer work with Mark. I can't say that I will miss the class itself; business did not turn out to be my forte, and I struggled to try to think of customers in terms of money instead of people (I will stick with osteopathic school).
I will miss the traveling. Whenever I had free time, I tried to explore the campus by either walking or running on a new route. I went into random buildings, read the flyers and the posted student projects, and tried to see what student life was really like at Cornell. My biggest regret was that I never fully explored the town of Ithaca; but maybe I will get another chance next year. I liked the warm summer weather, but winter might be tough for me. I also did not like living in the dorms too much because it was hard to share a bathroom with 20 or more girls who had varying ideas of what cleanliness was.
My favorite part was probably meeting new people. Even in my own class of 80 students, I could always learn a new name when I had a question, or when I sat with someone new during lunch. Everyone had their own story, and I wish I could have heard every one of them. One of the perks of going to a big school like Cornell is being exposed to a little bit of everything; I believe that is one of the purposes of the Ivy League Connection. As students, we represent our school and district; and as a program, they give us the opportunity to see schools beyond the limits of our backyard. I've seen experienced first-hand what it could be like to take classes at a big university. Sometimes it was hard because there were so many students and only two teachers; but it would be easier if it was a class I was passionate about. I feel like I have so much more to consider when I apply to colleges this fall. I will still apply to a couple of California schools, like Cal Poly San Louis Obispo. Now though, applying some East Coast schools does not seem so far-fetched; the Ivy League Schools feel especially possible now that I've met students who actually attend. I was able to talk with them intelligently, and that was the best way to make being accepted by these schools feel possible. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity the ILC gave me. The actual trip only lasted for four weeks, but the memories, and the friends, may last a life time. Next stop, college applications!

Leaving Ithaca

It's been almost 24 hours since our plane landed last night at the San Francisco airport, and I am still adjusting. From the application process into the Ivy League Connection to actually arriving at Cornell, and finally to writing this last blog at home, this has been one very long adventure. Before I get into that, though, let me describe my last day in Ithaca....
I woke up at 7:30 AM in my air conditioned Statler hotel room and in a comfy bed that I was going to miss. I quickly got ready, finished packing, and met with Mr. Chan-Law, Eric Wang, and Frank to drop off our suitcases at the airport. We didn't have any trouble (though the employees were surprised at how early we arrived), and we headed back to eat breakfast with the rest of the group. I quickly changed, but we were a little late waiting for Eric and Frank. We ate at Collegetown Bagels; I didn't really like it, and the hotel group had to rush because our graduation ceremony started early. We made it in time, and people mingled for a few minutes before we were briefed by Mark on how to walk in to the hall. The graduation ceremony was in the same room that we met in on the first day for orientation, and I think everyone was feeling nostalgic as pictures of the past three weeks were flashed on the PowerPoint. A handful of students from the class talked about what we had learned, and Group 6A gave their hotel presentation for all of the parents and relatives. The TAs also put together a picture slideshow with more pictures. Finally, we were called up to get our completion certificates and a copy of our final report. Everyone congregated outside to say their final good-byes, and then it was over.
We all met again in the lobby at 12:05, and drove to the airport for the last time - stopping once more at Collegetown Bagels to pick up lunch. We ate at the airport, got through the short security line quickly, and then our trip home truly began. I slept through most of the Ithaca flight, and played on my iPod while waiting for our connecting flight in Philadelphia to San Francisco. There was not much to do during those last six hours: I mostly worked through my puzzle book, listened to music, and thought about how the trip has impacted me. It was great to land and after four weeks finally see my family; it took awhile to get my luggage, but my boyfriend and my father were there to keep me company. I didn't get home until about 10:30 PM (thus, this blog is a day late), and after being greeted like the Queen of England by my pets, I almost immediately went to bed. As fun as sleeping in the hotel and dorm beds were, I really like sleeping in my own bed better.

Back Home

My own bed! Today we traveled across the country from Ithaca to Hercules. We, Frank, Rachael, and I started the day early when we checked in our luggage at the airport before we went to graduation. At graduation, several student speakers were asked to go up and give an example of a presentation and explain to the parents what we covered during the past three weeks.

As soon as the presentations concluded, Mark was his energetic self and called us up group by group to give us a certificate for complete HAdm 1101 and a copy of our final group business report. Graduation blew by and it made me realize that as much as I wanted to stay with all my new friends, the clock was ticking and that the time to leave gorge-ous Cornell was drawing near. Frank and I (Freric as our friends and Mark named us) spent the next half and hour mingling, taking pictures, and talking. It was a sad moment when slowly, one by one, or two by two, our friends filed out of the Statler School of Hotel Administration to make their way home.

After all the graduation ceremonies ended, our cohort packed up our last few belongings and headed to the airport and left Cornell and Ithaca for Philadelphia. It was so hard to watch Ithaca grow smaller and smaller out of the plane window as our plane flew higher and higher and further away from Cornell. In Philly, we had a short layover where we grabbed a bite to eat and then boarded our final flight back to San Francisco. I spent the majority of the flight back sleeping, listening to music, and more sleeping. Before I knew it, we were descending into the sunset on the bay at SFO. It was cool to see the fog crawling over the hills and the beautifully colored sky as the sun set.

Currently I am enjoying the comforts of home, but I know that I want to go back to Cornell and study in Cornell's School of Hotel Administration! I am determined to be a Hotelie!

Goodbye Cornell!

The last day at Cornell finally arrived. I woke up at 7:00 in the Statler instead of the dorm, 2 and a half hours before our graduation. Mr. Chan-Law drove Eric, Rachael, and I to the airport early to check in our bags. We came back to the Statler to dress up for the graduation. It was nearly 9 AM, but I was struggling with my tie. After finally fixing my tie, Eric and I met up with the rest of the ILCers to eat our breakfast at Collegetown Bagels.
Collegetown  Bagels from the Car.
Finishing our bagels, we arrived at the Statler building just in time at 9:30 AM. Everyone already there were well dressed and were just hanging around, before Mark brought everyone inside a classroom. We discussed how the graduation was going to work, how people were going to walk, and how he was going to pronounce everyone's names. Quickly afterwards, we set off to the auditorium. It was a small graduation because it was only our hotel class, which made it feel closer because I knew most of the students. Music was playing and it felt like an actual high school graduation. In the beginning, we had student speakers talk about our experiences at this three week program. Two of them were from my group, Linna and Josh. Shortly later, Mark called out each of our names. We all got a certificate for this program and a copy of our final report. Finishing off our graduation, the TA's put together a special PowerPoint that had pictures of everyone.

At the end of the graduation, everyone stayed to say their last good-byes and take pictures. Eric and I were there for about 20 minutes  before heading to the Statler to finish packing for our trip back. It was sad, seeing people that are from different states or countries for the last time because it is unlikely that I'd be visiting them anytime soon. I will still try to keep in touch with as many people as I can. As Mr. Chan-Law was driving us to the Ithaca airport, I tried to get my last pictures of the amazing campus.

A Last Look at the Statler Building Where my Class is.
After about an estimated 15 minutes of driving, we were finally arrived at the airport that would take us away from New York. We ate our sandwiches from Collegetown Bagels as lunch on the benches there before setting off. The airplane was like the one from last time, with propellers. I sat next to Alex on the plane, and the chairs were comfortable for such a small plane. An hour later, we arrived at a familiar place, Philadelphia. At around 5 PM ET, we grabbed lunch at the airport. It felt right to get Philly Cheese steaks, so everyone except Rachael (she's gluten intolerant) got one. After our quick lunch, we went on our final plane. It was a sad moment, sitting there, knowing this would be the last time here for a while.

Our Airplane to Philly
Fast forward 6 hours of flying on a plane, we were back home. Our long happy voyage has come to an end. We all said our farewells to each other when we checked out our luggage. I had a lot of fun with all of them, and hopefully, we'll have a reunion some time soon.

Reflections on the Final Day at Cornell

I woke up to the sound of music playing out of the iHome alarm at the Statler Hotel.  I already knew today would be a hard day, leaving the campus that we have called home for the past three weeks.  I took a shower and packed the remainder of my luggage. To be honest I was a little sluggish this morning as we had a late night at the Statler to cherish the remaining hours at Cornell.  I headed downstairs to meet the group for breakfast, which would be at the locally well-known Collegetown Bagels.  The bagels lived up to their reputation as we enjoyed a breakfast away from the Robert Purcell Community Center.

The Hotelies had to leave soon after breakfast to attend their graduation at 10 o’clock.  They had already checked in their luggage at the Ithaca Airport earlier in the morning; the rest of us headed toward the airport after breakfast to check in luggage.  I saw Jonathan, who was in my discussion group, the first of the many people I would have to say goodbye to today.  From the airport we headed to Kennedy Hall for graduation. 

Seeing our friends at graduation was the saddest part of the day.  We already had our goodbyes with friends who had early morning flights, and seeing the rest of them go was hard.  We lined up alphabetically with our fellow Freedom and Justice classmates, but soon visited with Matt in VetMed and Ganeev in Body, Mind, & Health along with many others.  Everyone gathered into the hall to begin the ceremony.

Ms. Eller, the Summer College Administrator, opened the program with concluding statements about the program: what we have learned, how we have changed, and so on. Afterward, each class’s teacher gave a speech and called the students up individually to receive their certificate. Freedom and Justice went second after Design, and was followed by Body, Mind, & Health and then VetMed.  After the ceremony we met with classmates, friends, and Professor Kramnick for pictures before we had to leave to catch our flight to Philadelphia. 

Everything was different after leaving Ithaca, practically leaving our home. The flights home seemed longer; the atmosphere was completely different.  On the bright side, I ended up being 4 for 4 in getting the aisle seat on the flights, and the journey home provided one last bonding event for our group.

I am so grateful for having this experience. The things that I have learned have been invaluable and the people I have met here have been amazing. I want to thank the Ivy League Connection staff, administrators, and sponsors for making this trip possible, as well as Mr. Chan-Law for making this journey with us.  He has been such a wonderful, responsible chaperone who we all have really gotten to know over the month; I couldn’t think how a high school teacher would volunteer to spend their summers with even more kids, but I’m sure there are other privileges involved in participating in this program.  I also want to thank Professor Kramnick and Ulas for being such masterful educators. They have really changed my perspective not only on governmental philosophy, but also on matters of thinking in general and analyzing philosophy. Also Asher and Riley, our R.A.s, who have really made me feel welcome at Cornell since the beginning of my stay. Finally, I am so grateful to be able to share this experience with my fellow cohort: Calvin, Eric Wilson, Eric Wang, Frank, and Rachael.  We have developed a special bond that I know is going to last beyond this program and I am truly grateful for that.