Nerve-racking. Fun. Tasty. Tiring.
These are all the words that describe my first Ivy League Connection dinner.
I did not really know what to expect when I got to the BART station exactly at the meeting time; but everything seemed to proceed smoothly as Mr. Ramsey and Don herded us all onto the trains, our suits and dresses appropriately branding us as the ILC Cattle. I sat next to Eric Wang on the way there, and we chatted about our final days of school while I thought about what I would say at the dinner tonight (as a high school student, it is tradition to not prepare too far in advance). We walked from the San Francisco station to the restaurant ("Prospect"), talking to each other and trying not to get lost. The closer we got, the more my stomach fluttered.
Several Cornell alumni were in our reserved room already by the time we arrived. We all shook hands, and at first the ILC group stuck together, not quite sure what to do. Don eventually came over and reminded us to socialize; so I began talking with Catrina Cartagena about her experiences with the Cornell law school as everyone grazed (I still felt somewhat herded) through small appetizers. Catrina told me a little bit about what she did before Cornell, and what to expect in Ithaca while we waited for Mr. Ramsey to finish our seating arrangements. I also enjoyed talking with her about my experiences with the mock trial competition before taking our seats. Now, sitting between Eric Wang and alumnus Maxime Domain (Max for short), my nerves truly started to kick in because I realized I would soon have to speak in front of everyone immediately after Ms. Kronenberg introduced the guests.
Yet everything seemed to work out fine. I didn't stutter out my words, trip over my own feet, forget what I wanted to say, or do any other mistake that I fretted over in the minutes before I went up. The evening progressed smoothly afterwards, as I enjoyed the excellent (and gluten-free!) food provided and was thoroughly entertained by the conversations with Max - a computer science major who lived in France before coming to the United States to study at Cornell - and Tony Bandanza (the alumnus sitting next to Eric). I got my greatest impression of Cornell, though, as I listened to Max and Tony speak to each other. They graduated in different years, and with different majors, but there was still that shared connection between them. They were part of the Cornell family - they had walked the same streets of Ithaca, met some of the same professors, experienced some of the best dining hall food, and left with the same tools for success. The same tools that I hope to at least partially obtain during my three weeks at Cornell this summer.
I realize now that we do not have to be herded cattle, being prodded and guided toward success; with the self-confidence I gained through that relaxing, family-like environment, I feel ready to take on Cornell like the wild bull I know I can be - strong, independent, and branded only by the mark of future success (a true representation of what an ILCer should be).