Saturday, July 21, 2012

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.

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