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!