Friday, May 16, 2014

One Market Experience

My mother and I in El Cerritto Plaza BARTstation
On May 15th all the students going to Brown all gathered  in the El Cerrito Plaza BART station. Around 5:30 pm we departed to San Francisco, I set next to Thao we talked about the AP world test we both took that day and she made feel like she was one on my friend I had known my hole life. The BART ride was about 30 minutes that passed by too fast.

One Market Restaurant 
One Market restaurant is located one block from the Embarcadero BART station. The restaurant had a nice view of the Golden Gate Bridge. I was impressed by the decor once I entered; we had our own private room. I really enjoyed talking to the parents and the alumni’s that had visited Providence and Brown.  
The mothers of Brown summer students
Somehow the mothers found each other and decide that they wanted to take pictures.  They just loved talking to each other before being seated. When I was seated I was sitting next to two alumni’s on both side of me on my left was Elizabeth Gonzalez and on my right was Adrienne Eng. Elizabeth had graduated from Brown in 2012. I enjoyed asking her questions like, what set you apart and got you accepted? Where are the best places to visit? Where are good places to shop? I learned from Elizabeth that everyone has a story with many chapters and to remember it’s up to me to change the ending. Adrienne answered many of my questions about where I should visit. She did really good job describing a little bit of the culture there. I learned to be open to trying new thing and experiences and the importance of lasting relationships.    
A picture of some of  the Brown girls
I can’t wait to spend the summer with the girls I hope they allow me to be as outgoing as some of them are. From what you can tell from the picture we love to pose for pictures. I really see myself learning from every girl and gaining a new prospective.
Magaly's mother and mine
Magaly's mother and mine had a great time talking and getting to know each other. after the dinner my mother felt more secure about the girls I was going to the East with. I enjoyed seeing my mother have a fun time with the other mothers during the dinner.   

Are desert tasted as amazing as it looked
This can’t be a real blog if I don’t talk about the food we ate. The appetizers consisted of three options; the first was mushroom ball, glassed orange chicken and shrimp tacos. Following was a salad, then main course which was delicious and our desert seen in the picture was just as good. After dinner was our group photo were we held are Brown flags up.

Don in a suit
I had to take a picture to remember Don in a suit because I might never get the chance see him dressed like that again. In the picture we are in the Embarcadero Bart station waiting for the Bart to go home. The dinner turned out to be more than I expected and was glad to be one of the lucky ones chosen. I think I can get used to dressing up for dinner and going to nice restaurants. Over all, the night was a success and I meet wonder full people and alumni’s who attended Brown and now I can’t wait until I leave.

Meeting New People

My mom and I arrived at the El Cerrito Plaza Bart Station at around 5:00 PM in case we happened to be at the wrong station. The first thing that I noticed was one nicely dressed man getting tickets, which happened to be Don in a black suit and an elephant tie. It was indeed a rare sighting. Once everyone arrived, we talked about how much of a success yesterday’s School Board Meeting was. People are already complimenting the Ivy League Connection to Ms.Kronenberg, one of the school board members, after watching the live broadcast yesterday. Then, Don made sure that everyone received either a clipper card or a bart ticket that he generously bought for us and we were finally off to San Francisco.

We ate at a fancy restaurant called One Market in San Francisco, which was not even a five minute walk from the bart station. When we got inside, we were taken to the furthest room to the right and I could see chefs cooking through a glass window and waiters waiting to serve us. At the dinner were the ILCers going to Brown University this summer, the families of these ILCers, the school board members, the chaperones, the sponsors for our trip, and the alums for Brown. We were given some time to walk around and introduce ourselves to people that we haven’t met before. Kevin Mahoney introduced himself to me again although I have seen him around at a previous ILC meeting and at El Cerrito for SATs. I also met Simon Hong who graduated from Brown in 2005 and has been supportive of the ILC for a number of years. Throughout the day so many people, such as Simon and Jenny, had given me the support that I needed for my speech. Another ILCer, named Jin Yi Chung from El Cerrito High School, also introduced herself to me. I learned a lot of things about her considering that we only had a couple of minutes to talk to each other. I give her a lot of respect for knowing how to speech English well, considering the fact that she came to America when she was in the 9th grade.

Andrea Llenos, previous student at Brown University
Once we were all done mingling, we had to find our names on the name tags which were placed randomly on the tables by Charles Ramsey. Andrea Llenos, a 2004 graduate at Brown University, sat in my table. I asked her a number of questions about the school such as the dorm life and the new environment. Ms.Kronenberg was the host for tonight and asked everyone in the room to introduce themselves. Afterwards, two ILCers presented a speech about what they hope to learn at Brown. Arnold Dimas, a student from Richmond High School, was the first speaker. He showed how thankful he feels to be able to have the chance to go to Rhode Island this summer. It definitely feels like a dream for not just Arnold, but all of the ILCers.

I was the second student speaker to talk about what I want to learn this summer. Although the Brown dinner was full of excitement, I was feeling really anxious the whole night for my speech. The night before the Brown dinner, I didn’t sleep until 6:00 AM because I was studying for two college finals. I didn’t have enough time to prepare a speech so I decided to go freestyle on this one. Surprisingly, I did pretty well for someone who slept for only two hours. I talked about how being a noncitizen has always made it harder for me when looking for scholarship and programs. However, this hasn’t stopped me from looking for opportunities out there. When I come back from Brown this summer, I hope to show other people in my community that people like me could also find opportunities, like the ILC. I understand that sponsors are paying thousands of dollars for students to go to an Ivy League School this summer. I want to thank every person who is giving us this opportunity of a lifetime. 

A Compelling ILC Brown Dinner

Earlier this evening, Ivy League Connection Brown dinner at One Market in San Francisco was truly an inspirational night to remember. My aunt Jennifer and I arrived at the El Cerrito Plaza BART station late, to meet with all Brown Cohorts and their parents, Don Gosney, Madeline Kronenberg, Mr. Blackmon, our chaperons Jennifer Gilbert and Alana Scott. Thereafter, Don went over our schedule, recommended tips such as asking questions and introducing ourselves to the adults, then he handed us all round-trip BART tickets.

Our BART train arrived, so we got off, walked upstairs and One Market was a block away. One Market is a wonderful, grand restaurant, our servers showed us into our seating room. First I introduced myself to Mr. Blackmon, who was one of the founders of the early beginning Ivy League Connection. He had talked to me about the first IlCer Peter Chow who is now a graduating an Ivy League University also is hoping to make an appearance tonight. I spoke to a few of my cohorts then introduced my aunt to their parents. Soon, I had seen Cheryl Lilhanand one of three who interviewed us from John F. Kennedy High School, as we all were accepted. One of the main topics she spoke to me about was having self-confidence, believing in your goals, and to always remember you have the same amount of potential as anybody else around you while staying at Brown University in the summer. Also, I  met Todd Groves who is on the School Board. His daughter went to study at Brown University with the Ivy League Connection. She enjoyed learning in the East Coast and is now a student at New York University studying Computer Science. It is fascinating to meet and speak to so many inspiring, experienced, accomplished people here at the Brown dinner.

Mouth-watering Strawberry Rhubard Shortcake

Soon, we all searched for our names written in cursive on our placards. Seated at our medium sized, white cloth, round table was Todd Groves who is on the School Board, Jennifer Dao who graduated from UC Berkeley, Alana Scott Brown I chaperon, Arianne Babcock who is a middle school teacher in San Francisco also was in the air force base, Jonathan Speed a Brown Alumni Class of 84', Jagjeet Kaur (my cohort who is also attending Women and Leadership summer course at Brown), her mother and my aunt. Arnold Dimas and YeonSoo Cho gave a speech thanking the ILC benefactors, Charles Ramsey, Madeline Kronenberg, Don Gosney and all the people who are helping us in this incredible journey, spoke of returning back home with more knowledge to share in our family, school, and in our communities. Charles Ramsey created a profound speech about how the Ivy League Connection, our parents, everyone in our school district such as our teachers, all those who have helped us along my way, work so hard to help us move forward. It has always been a time to pay it forward, to share our voices, most importantly give back help and guidance to people who we cross paths, to learn and make positive growth in our communities. This night has inspired me to make a life goal to share all of the knowledge and lessons other people have taught me.

One Dinner at One Market

May 15, 2014 will forever hold a special memory for me and the other Brown cohorts. This evening was our dinner at One Market in San Francisco. Going after the AP World test was just a relief since I knew that I could make this a "celebration." My mom and I arrived at the El Cerrito Plaza BART around 5 o'clock. We met up with Maria Llose and her mom, and we walked to the station. It was a relief to find that everyone was already there dressed in very fancy shmancy clothing. On the BART ride to SF I sat with my W&L friend, Izabel Rodriguez since we both agreed that we didn't know each other too well. We talked about our future ambitions, school, and classes we will be taking next school year. It was a fun talking to her because she just has this uplifting aura around her. 

As we made our grand entrance, we all our walk to the restaurant. When we arrived at One Market, I was blown away by the beauty of the place. The workers were so nice and caring that I just fell in love. We mazed our way through the restaurant to find ourselves in a room. For 45 minutes, it was time for all of us to go and mingle with the alums and parents. I talked to many alums and learned about what to expect at Brown University. One of the alums, Simon Hong graduated in 2005. He was a really interesting guy and actually worked at the place above the restaurant ( ha ha, how convenient). I also talked to different parents and even fellow Brown cohorts. Kevin Mahoney was someone new and surprisingly, we had few things in common. We both are musically talented and know Elaine Hseish, a senior cellist at Hercules High. The 45 minutes was so uplifting and educational as I went to different groups and talked about various topics. Once the time was up, Charles Ramsey told us to take our seats. 

To my surprise, I was sitting next to Simon Hong to my left and my mom to my right. Within the group I had, Arnold Dimas and his mom, Jing and her mom, Jennifer Gilbert, Hunter Stern, and Donna Chung. Hunter Stern works for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and Donna Chung works as an elementary teacher for Ferment Elementary. I believe my group was amazing as we talked about teaching, and colleges. I really liked the ambiance of the group and how social we were as we talked about different things. Jenny, Simon, and I were actually talking about books we read in high school. The chats were not as scary as it seemed, and I felt the flow of the conversation. 

As the evening progressed, speeches were made and food was being brought. Both Arnold Dimas and Yeonsoo Cho were the representatives for their group. Both speakers did a wonderful job telling their speech and expressed what they wanted to gain from this amazing opportunity. After their speeches and a few more, Charles Ramsey took the spotlight. He talked for awhile and expressed the importance of stepping outside of one's comfort zone. I truly agree with him yet one quote is stuck with me. He said that " the frontier has been cleared." I'll let you all think about its meaning. As he finished, everyone began to eat dinner and life was just wonderful. The dessert was probably my favorite part of the dinner since I'm in love with sweets. The presentation at One Market was quite spectacular and their service was high quality. I must thank the waiters and waitresses for making this all happen. As I may say my thanks to Paula Portillo, William Verr, and Kai Solin for making this night so wonderful. 

As the evening progressed, the dinner was at its end. Everyone left the restaurant and made our way to the Bart station. It was quite an adventure as I continued to talk to the beneficiaries. The beneficiaries are by far the nicest people and I hope I made a good impression. The BART ride home was crowded and stuffy as passengers from the Giants game were coming home. On our last train, I talked to Sierra Lee about sports and extracurricular activities. We had a nice chat about the elections coming up on Monday. It was finally our stop and everyone left to go home for the night. The drive home was full of excitement and happiness. 

Evening with Elegant Elephants 
Left to Right : Cynthia Ramirez, Paula Portillo, and Me

A Dinner to Remember

A day after the school board meeting came the dinner for the Brown I and II cohorts in San Francisco. I'd have to say that it was a pretty long Thursday for me. After school, I went straight to my house to get ready for this dinner. I made sure I was right on time, since I didn't want to hear Evil Don scream about his tardiness policy upon arrival. We all met at the El Cerrito Plaza Bart Station. There, Don handed each of us clipper cards and with a stern voice he said "I want these back." Of course Don, we wouldn't dare to steal your clipper cards.

My beautiful mother and I
We quickly made our way up the escalator to the bart train. I recall Don mentioning in his email to not sit with your friends or parents on the bart ride, but to sit with strangers whom you've never talked or met before. It seemed to look hard at first, but a member of the Brown I sat right beside me. His name was Jack. During the whole bart ride we talked about almost everything  from AP tests to coaches stealing golf clubs. It was a really nice conversation and I'm glad I was able to make a new friend even if we talked for only fifteen minutes. 

When we all arrived at the restaurant, we were greeted by many waiters and waitresses as we made our way to the back of the restaurant. There we met several alumnis of Brown University and we each made small talk as we waited to be seated. Appetizers and drinks were served while everyone formed little groups conversing and exchanging information. Next we were ready to be seated. After a brief introduction of everyone at the dinner and a few speeches made by our own ILCers: Arnold and Yeonsoo, came Mr. Ramsey. Mr. Ramsey made a very deep and powerful speech about the ways of the ILC and a brief history about the program. He strongly emphasized how important it is to give back to the community after the program not just by starting a club but by changing the lives of a person. Mr. Ramsey wanted us all to speak to many people that we didn't know and to build leadership that will carry us on in the future. 

This was one of those nights that I will always remember. Not just because of the food or the location of the dinner, but because of all the alumnis, benefactors, parents, and of course; Mr. Ramsey, Ms. Kronenberg, and Don themselves. They are the reason why I am here today, preparing for my trip to Brown this summer. I can't thank them enough for making this a reality. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Note to Self: Take Etiquette Lessons

From Magaly Rodriguez Arreola

How can I possibly blog with so much food in my stomach? I can barely concentrate and I am nearly falling asleep. But, I did make a commitment to myself and to this program that I would blog every night and I will. Try at least.

So this journey began with all of the Brown cohort meeting up at the El Cerrito Plaza BART station. When we all finally arrived, we headed toward the staircase and got onto our train. During the way to the restaurant I had the pleasure to talk to Arnold who was just as excited as me about this program. He is another member who was selected to go to Brown over the summer but is taking the DNA course offered at that university. I had never talked to him before and I am so glad I met him because the first moment he spoke, I knew why they chose him. He was different, in a good way, and the panelists obviously acknowledged that.

We got off the train and headed toward One Market, the restaurant we were going to. We were escorted and led to a private area where everyone who was anyone gathered at. The people at the dinner consisted of fourteen ILC students, our chaperones, people who graduated from Brown, people who are currently attending Brown, the sponsors, the School Board members, special guests, the friends of the guests, our wonderful parents, Mr. Ramsey and the one and only, Don Gosney. Like you can imagine, there were lots of people to talk to and a lot to talk about. I had the chance to receive advice from Adrienne and Nancy (best friends and former roommates at Brown), got to know the other five people who were selected to go to Brown (Arnold, Jack, Kevin, Jing-Yi, and Brandon), met Mr. Ramsey, talked to some of the parents and all the while stuffing my face with delicious appetizers.
Now came the best part, the speeches of course...... but the food was a close second. YeonSoo  definitely created a mood of perseverance and never giving up when she talked about her personal struggles that I related to because, like YeonSoo, I was not born in the US. We’ve had had to work our butts off in order to be in this position that we are in right now. We didn't wait for this opportunity to come—we had to go get it and learn how to keep it which is most important.

Arnold was also chosen to speak and was an excellent candidate because he lightened up the atmosphere of the room when he talked about his goals and aspirations. I felt like these people were in a need of some cheering up. Everything doesn't have to be formal ALL the time.

The food was exquisite and very elegantly presented. (Note to self: take etiquette classes). After we had dessert, we all took a group photo.

We were given ten minutes to clear out and we headed back to the BART station. We were all clearly tired but, as we all know, still had to blog later that night. So here I am finishing my blog post. Goodnight everybody!

Alumni Dinner

As nervous as I was starting out the night, it was nice to see some familiar faces in the crowd (besides my cohort, of course) gathered together tonight.  Purely by chance, seated next to me was Lauren Brodsky (Brown ℅ '05); she happens to be the half-sister of one of my longtime classmates, Andrew. And by longtime I mean that I went to elementary, middle, and high school with him!  She explained to me what Brown is like, and as an added bonus she told me about her year abroad in Scotland at the University of Edinburgh, a school that I've been considering applying to.  In addition to Lauren, I talked to so many other interesting people including an air force ROTC turned sixth grade teacher, a former ECHS math teacher, and an encouraging school board member who gave me wonderful ideas that will help me create a positive and lasting impact on my school (thank you!).  

It was an amazing night filled with fascinating conversations, delicious food, and great company! I can't wait to attend the W&L program, watch how it affects those in my cohort (from what I've heard, the impact is pretty significant in the best type of way), and maybe one day attend another dinner like this, but this time as an alumni myself.  

Oh, and if you're ever at One Market make sure to try the Strawberry Rhubarb Tart!
The gorgeous flower arrangement (that I got to keep!)

A Fantastic Evening

Today, May 15, 2014 the entire Brown cohort gathered at the El Cerrito Plaza BART Station at approximately 5:20 PM. I arrived just minutes before the time given. When I got there I immediately found everyone since everyone was so dressed up in an ordinary formal way. I was given BART tickets by Don for me and my mother. After everyone arrived we were given instructions to not leave from our cohort.

As we rose up on the escalator everyone began talking to different people from the other cohort and also alumnis. Through the BART ride was very packed since there was a Giants game going on. I met a junior at Hercules, Jing-Yi Ching, and I learned some stuff about her. I learned that she will be taking the Macroeconomics course at Brown. She told me how stressed she was about all the AP tests in which I agreed with her. Like me she got accepted to Brown on her first interview. We both discussed how the Ivy League Connection has given us adult responsibilities to check our emails, blog, and send our applications. 

While BART took us to San Francisco I discussed more with the young lady from Brown. After a while we arrived in San Francisco. We all took our Clipper cards out and scanned them so we can get out. We walked about a block to get to our destination.

When we arrived at One Market we were immediately escorted back towards a reserved room. As we walked to the back I saw what I would call a fancy restaurant. When I got to the dining area I began going up to random alumni and sponsors. As I talked to them and mentioned how proud I was to be part of the program we were given appetizers and beverages. 

After so much conversating we were finally seated by Charles Ramsey. At my table we had an alumni, Brown students, and parents. Madeline began introducing everyone. All the Brown students were to stand up and say their name, school, grade, and which course they'll be taking. Thanks to her I got to see who's who. After she spoke we had our lovely speakers come up and say a few words on behalf of our cohorts. Arnold and YeonSoo clearly thanked everyone there on behalf of all of us. They mentioned how we would all bring back something to our community such as being good leaders. I loved how they didn't prepare a speech they just got to it. After they talked more alums talked a while. I don't quite remember everyone's name but a man went up and talked about how when he was at Brown he made good friends in which they're still very close which means making partnership.

After he talked Mr. Ramsey gave us an impactful speech. He told us how proud he was and how excited he is to see how we will help our community. He talked and talked as any school board president would do so. Finally he told us that we didn't do this on our own, throughout the whole way he was here for us as well as sponsors and coordinators. After so much talking he let us enjoy our food.

Everyone began with salads, which were delicious. Then we chose out entree I choose the Hibault, which was small fish cut and done perfectly and designed. After that we got desert it was a small scoop of ice cream on top of some sort if cookie with strawberries. During our dinner we talked to alumnis and learned how when they were at Brown they didn't my want to leave since it was so much to do there. I had the honor to sit next to Beilul, a sophomore at Brown University. She was in the Ivy League Connection for two years and attended Columbia and Cornell Universities. She mentioned that when she went she came back she was the same person but she had a different perspective on life in a good way.

After speaking and enjoying our dinner with everyone we had to take our traditional picture . We were in a small not so good lighting area but we still managed to take our lovely photo. On our way back home everyone laughed and talked about how out dinner went. I can honestly say that as the days and events go by I do not regret joining the Ivy League Connetion and thank Madeline, Don, Mr. Ramsey and everyone else for helping us out throughout the whole journey. I expect much more from the program and more than excited to meet more people. After all it was a lovely evening.
Beilul and I

San Francisco One Market Brown Dinner

I never thought that I could meet so many amazing people in one night, never thought that I could hear about so many different back grounds and different stories, all in a night. Today all of the Brown Cohort went to a dinner in San Francisco, we all went to One Market there was amazing food there. The dessert especially had me super excited but what also had me excited was all the different people I got to meet. I met Mr. Jonathan Speed; he is a Brown Alumni who graduated class of '84. Speaking with him was super informative, not only did I learn about the things to expect from Brown but life in general. I got tips on how to approach job opportunities and making connections with the world, and what employers are looking for now days. 

Being able to connect with people who are very important in our society was a huge privilege, listening and understanding all of the knowledge they have obtained and they are hoping to pass on was exciting. After the school board meeting and today's dinner I cannot wait to go to Brown! I want the summer to be here so I can learn and come back and teach my community. Tonight has inspired me even more to pursue my dreams and while I am at it, encourage others to do the same. Tonight was amazing a night I will never forget! 

We Will Not Go Gently into that Good Night

From Magaly Rodriguez Arreola
I never knew that my first School Board meeting would be like today. I always imagined it like this: a whole bunch of grown ups talking about things that are either irrelevant or just boring and saying "I." But today was surprisingly very inspiring and soul filling. Just hearing all the ILCers from all the programs talk and just say what they have been feeling during the whole process—about how thankful they are and how this is the best opportunity to take was eye opening.  Everyone had something special they showed and every individual was very unique. Throughout the whole time I was sitting down, I thought to myself, how much diversity was present in that room but in some weird way we all shared the same goal.

We got up to the podium and lined up next to the wonderful Jenny while she gave a speech that left the council members thinking for a while about their perspective  on gender equality. I must admit that my fellow cohort sister, Cynthia Ramirez, set us apart from the rest of the programs.  She spoke from the heart and she didn't try to write a perfect speech or try to sound like someone she isn't because this program didn't accept her for being perfect. She showed sincerity and she was just real throughout the whole time she was speaking. I don't care what the other people say but our program is the best. Anyone can take an educational program that develops your brain and makes you smarter but only our program builds you as a person—a human being.

Lastly we were all lined up and positioned into our places for a huge group photo by the patient Don Gosney. I will not get into detail about the struggle we got into trying to squeeze in together and the people who were not listening or paying attention. The fact is, we took fifteen minutes just trying to fit together but I know it was worth it at the end because Don is an amazing photographer and his hard at work making all of us look amazing. Thanks Don! After thirty pictures we were dismissed and I took the time to take a few pictures. Today was another first experience that I will never forget. I can't wait for tomorrow's fancy schmancy dinner in S.F!
Cynthia spoke for all of us when she told the assembled crowd that when we come back from Brown
they would see completely new women--women who have been empowered and transformed.  She announced
that we would never allow ourselves to be looked upon as second class citizens.

One Day Closer to Brown

Due to that fact that I ended school at 5:00 PM today, I rushed to get ready for the School Board Meeting. I arrived at Lovonya Dejean Middle School thirty minutes before the time that Don gave us in the email because if Don says “be there ready to go to work at 6:00 PM,” it really means that you should be there a couple of minutes before 6:00 PM.

When I arrived, my cohorts and I tried to find seats near each other as we waited for our chaperone, Jenny, to arrive. I recognized many familiar faces on the School Board and in the audience. 
After people mingled inside the cafeteria, the meeting finally started and the Ivy League Connection was the first topic on the agenda. The way the meeting was run reminded me of a city council meeting, but much bigger. The cameras, the men and women dressed in fancy clothes, and the awards presented to every ILCer made me realize that it is an honor and a reward to be accepted to a program like the Ivy League Connection. Congrats to everyone who made it this far because it was not a fast nor an easy process.

After each chaperone talked about their opinions and expectations for the program, one speaker from each group was asked to give a speech about what they expect from the ILC. Cynthia Ramirez represented Brown Session Two with an inspirational and powerful speech that wasn’t practiced or rehearsed at all. I won’t be able to make such a great speech as Cynthia at the Brown Dinner in SF tomorrow, but I will try to make my speech as memorable as hers.   
Our sponsors, the ones who give the ILC money, came and took a bow as their names were being called out. I want to thank them because we wouldn’t afford to go to an Ivy League school for free this summer without their support. 

I also want to applaud Don for doing so much for the Ivy League Connection, yet he is hardly ever awarded or recognized. Taking pictures with a heavy camera, making sure that everyone writes a blog, checking to see if anyone is absent, and providing ILCers with all the help that they need is definitely a big job for just one man. Thank you, Don, for all that you have done.

Although I haven’t gone to Brown University yet, I feel a little more confident, inspired, and changed every time I meet with my cohorts. The change is already happening. I can feel it.
Jenny introduced our group to the School Board.

Ivy League Connection Introduced at School Board Meeting

In the warm sunshine of early evening, I walked quickly to an open entrance as my mother and aunt drove on to find parking. West Contra Costa Unified's School Board meeting was held in Lovonya Dejean Middle School's multi-purpose auditorium at six o'clock, where the Ivy League Connection was presented to our sponsors, the school board, teachers, and our adoring audience watching from their televisions.

Our amazing chaperone, Jenny
As soon as I walked into the fairly large auditorium, it took me less than a minute to search for my cohorts and their parents. Shortly, all of my cohorts attending Women and Leadership class at Brown University and Jennifer Azucena, our chaperon who also teaches Spanish at DeAnza High School was confident and ready to be presented.

Jennifer, our chaperon for our upcoming summer precollege program class at Brown practiced our names in order, to be introduced to the School Board. We all mingled with each other and made friendly conversations, whereas it felt comfortable like we all have known each other for quite a while.

The publicly televised School Board meeting had begun. Charles Ramsey, President of  the WCCUSD School Board spoke and introduced two high school seniors who spoke about how being in the Ivy League Connection had transformed their perspectives of attending Ivy Leagues and private colleges outside of California. Tamilyn Chen, a high school senior incoming first-year at Harvard University this Fall semester, spoke to us about her experiences of attending Cornell and taking college tours of private universities, how much she learned and was influenced by these granted trips. Both senior speakers expressed their deep gratitude and appreciation for the Ivy League Connection and how these amazing opportunities and what they have learned will never be forgotten into giving back in their community.

Here I am working hard and doing my part
After the Brown-I ILCers were introduced, Brown-II and our chaperon Jennifer were called up to the podium. To my surprise, I felt confident and no nervousness came up. Jennifer spoke of the leadership knowledge we will learn and bring back into our communities of Richmond, San Pablo, El Sobrante, Pinole, Hercules, and El Cerrito. She spoke of how women shall become more involved in government and science based fields. Jennifer announced we will be visiting New York University, Columbia, Dartmouth and Wellesley. Following that, Cynthia spoke to the School Board and the audience representing us cohorts, of the gratitude of great opportunities the Ivy League Connection offers WCCUSD, and the leadership and confidence qualities we will learn and apply to everything in our journey when we come back from the summer at Brown.

The Ivy League Connection benefactors were introduced to all of us, although a few representatives could not make it. Many of our sponsors are architectural firms designing our new schools. I am so appreciative of our sponsors with the Ivy League Connection for passing on to us their support and knowledge.

Finally, the meeting was recessed so Don could photograph the 2014 Ivy League Connection, their chaperones and their parents.          

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A Special School Board Meeting

A quick selfie before I left my house
Today I attended the WCCUSD's School Board meeting, held in the cafeteria of Lavonya Dejean Middle School in Richmond California. When the meeting first started I was surprised at the amount of people  that showed up and was glad to see so many supportive parents in the audience. 
My beautiful mother in the back
I was accompanied by my mother, Magdalena, seen in the photo above. After we got home she talked about how proud she was of my accomplishments. I was really happy that she felt that way about me.
I think Jenny was a little nervous

Our chaperon Jenny had to give a speech to the School Board, I think she was nervous but if that was me I would feel the same way. I loved the example she gave about one of her Spanish 3 students, and talked about how this program allowed her to grow, have a voice and be heard. Cynthia Ramirez gave a beautiful speech on behalf of Brown-II which was great and really talked about what she wanted from this experience.
Don going crazy trying to run down his flags
Sometimes I think Don's job, never stops. There he is running around trying to collect all the flags back from the students. 
Magaly and myself
I got the opportunity to take a picture with Magaly Rodriguez, we were both a little disorientated from all the flash coming from the camera after taking about 30 pictures. 
The Women & Leadership Ladies
The Brown ladies got to show off their certificates to their parents: there I am with the blue blazer smiling and showing off my accomplishment with my cohort that is Brown-II.

I saved the best for last: a preview to next year's Ivy League Connection picture, can’t wait to see it in my school's office and in the college and carrier center in my school's library.
Preview to next year’s Ivy league Connection picture    

Group Gathering a Go!

Today was the beginnings of a hectic week. With the AP World test happening tomorrow, I desperately wanted the School Board Meeting at Lavonya Dejean Middle School to be as quick as possible. Luckily that did happen, and it surprisingly was a delightful day. 

My dad and I arrived at the school around 5:20 PM; however, we parked in the wrong parking lot. It caused quite the confusion but once I was able to see Chiamaka Nwadike, a Vanderbilt cohort, I began to calm down. Coming to the middle school was exciting because there were numerous vans parked outside. I was surely getting excited and soon everyone came in. 

During the meeting, I sat with my fellow cohorts as we listened to the guest speakers. One of the guest speakers Tamilyn Chen from Hercules High School presented her speech of experience and gratitude. She is a senior and will be attending Harvard University this upcoming school year. Tamilyn gave tips, such as blogging everyday, and thanked the founders of the Ivy League Connection for the wonderful opportunity. When she ended, the meeting went along as chaperons and speakers from each college presented themselves. Everything went in alphabetical order, meaning that the W&L program was second. Cynthia Ramirez was a great speaker and representative. She made an impressive move to not have a written speech and spoke from her heart. Everything she said, I supported and nodded my head in agreement. She talked about how she wanted women to be seen as equal and to show everyone how capable women are. She did an amazing job and soon everyone finished their speeches and it was time to take our photo.

Taking the photo was both fun and hectic. The chaotic part of it was the fact that some of the covers were falling apart, some faces were being covered, and some heads were moving like crazy. After twenty shots from the talented Don Gosney, my dad and I bursted out of the multi purpose room to go home. Once in our car , we found ourselves a few inches away from a car crash. My dad and I were driving a green light when another car was going towards us. Keep in mind that the light was red for the other car. The driver made eye contact with us and drove off as if nothing happened. The ride home was a journey of cautiousness. 

'14 Ivy League Cohorts and Parents. Don't we look beautiful? 

Reunited...Once Again

The School Board Meeting turned out to be a fun night where I got to meet all the other students attending the different programs. This event was held in Lavonya Dejean Middle school. Of course it wasn't hard for me to find it since I attended this school about three years ago. I arrived just before 5:30 and I saw Thao. We waited for a few minutes for the rest of the girls from our group to arrive. Everyone arrived shortly, and we were ready to begin.

Once every arrived, Don called for the ILCers, as well as chaperones to gather around and receive their school flags. After a few minutes of chatter, everyone was ready to be introduced. My cohort were called up second. We made our way up to the podium, facing the panel, and held our flag strong and proud. Jenny made a quick but very deep speech about the inferiority of women and the problems that they face. Then she introduced each of us one by one as well as what school we go to. Next up came the star of the night, Cynthia. Cynthia was chosen to be the speaker and representative for the Brown Women and Leadership cohort. I was very proud of Cynthia. She didn't plan out or read anything on a a piece of paper. Everything that came out of her mouth came from her heart. She not only spoke for herself, but she spoke for all of us as a group. 

The last part of this meeting, was Don's favorite part: the group photo. Of course Don had everything planned out in his head to make this group photo as quick as possible. He tried to fit everyone: ILCers, chaperones, and parents in one section. Let me tell you, Don doesn't mess with photos like these, he's a professional. We seemed a little crammed up, but hey, the group photo turned out to be great.

I enjoyed this School Board Meeting, and it was a night to definitely remember. I got to meet all the other cohorts and chaperones. It was a fun little event the helped me reunite with of course my cohort, as well as the other ILCers whom I met through interviews and blog tutorials. Aside from all of this, I received a certificate that I shall frame and put on the best wall that my house has to offer. 
Smiling with our certificates

Another Blog About the School Board Meeting

Earlier this evening, all of the ILCers gathered together for the first time to be presented at the WCCUSD's School Board meeting. There was a brief introduction and we were soon seated, all of the students (and chaperones) were anxiously awaiting their cohorts to be called. Each cohort was represented by their chaperones and one student speaker, and these speeches all exceeded my expectations for high schoolers (especially Cynthia, her speech for representing my cohort was amazing and heartfelt). 

After the presentations, Don gathered up all the chaperones, students, and parents for a group photo. As it turns out, arranging people for a group picture is a lot harder than I originally thought. Between constant shuffling, shifting of the decorations, and fixing hair (sorry about that...) it's a miracle that we finally got a group photograph! Afterwards, we received our certificates and took one last photo of our cohort.

I'm beyond excited for the college tours (especially for the schools in New York, fingers crossed for a Broadway play...) and I can't wait to finally get to Brown!

Thanking The School Board

Today, May 14, 2014 all of the Ivy League gathered at Lovonya Dejean's Cafeteria for a meeting with the school board . It was very easy to find my way in because I once attended that school at one point. When I arrived I quickly found some of my cohort , as usual it was as if we've been talking all along. As people began to arrive the school board members began to take their seats and all the cohorts began to gather up with each other. We were told by Don the instructions on what to do , and how quick everything should be done.

Once everyone was seated they began calling up the cohorts. My cohort was called up second, we were the larger group there. As we walked up, we stood with our head held high and very proud of ourselves. Our chaperone Jenny began our short speech. She introduced us and herself as well. She told the school board and audience where we'd be attending in the summer. She mentioned how women and men are equal, but yet, there's on 20 female senator and 80 male senators? No sense right . 

After she gave her speech she introduced me. I had the honor to represent my cohort and speak on behalf of them. I introduced myself to everyone and mentioned how glad I was that the Ivy League Connection chose me and my peers to attend Brown University.  I also mentioned how my fellow peers and I feel that we are capable of more than what others think of us. I also mentioned that once my cohort comes back we won't be the same as how we are now. I guaranteed everyone there that we'll come back very outspoken and proud of being women in our community.

Throughout the whole speech I was really nervous because I did not have a speech written like everyone else but I'm glad I spoke from my heart. After hearing everyone's speeches , I felt really proud of our district. After so much talking we began to prepare for the photos. Parents were taking photos until Don said they were part of it too. All of a sudden Evil Don appeared for quite a minute, just simply to get everyone ready for the photo. About five minutes later we were done. Once we headed outside we were given our certificates and took pictures. After all it was a very nice sunny day, it was a pleasure to sit below the school board and allow them to hear our speeches. It was also nice seeing my cohort and chaperone. I know I'll never thank the Ivy League Connection enough for giving me such a great opportunity and treating me as a young adult. I'm more then excited now to attend Brown this summer with the support of y chaperone, Don, and the school board.
Here's a picture of my Brown Cohort.

School Board Meeting

Today was a day that every cohort went and introduced themselves to the WCCUSD School Board, this was a very important event for us all. Not only did we meet the people who were in charge of the ILC but we also met some of our benefactors. Very important people were present at today's meeting, so it was very important that we represented ourselves well. Some of the ILC members were asked to speak and I must say some of the best speeches I have heard. These speakers represented us all well and truly understood the message that we are trying to tell people, that there are other opportunities in the world and we are going to go explore them so we can come back to encourage our peers. 

Seeing the faces of proud parents and how they were all eager to see their children succeed was truly an amazing and inspirational sight. After today's school board meeting I am even more excited to go to Brown and tour other schools. I believe after today everyone that is part of the Ivy League Connection will truly understand how much the ILC is a privilege and how much all the adults do just to get us this opportunity.  I am truly honored and cannot wait to go, can't summer get here already!!!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Dinner with the Ladies

After getting lost and making a couple of U-turns, I was the first to arrive. I was confused about why there was a sign that said Louisiana Fried Chicken and was not sure whether or not my GPS took me to the right place. Once I saw a small sign that said Oralia’s Kitchen I knew I was in the right place. 
Appetizer yum!!
I knew Jenny was the right person from the first time she mentioned pupusas. In the future I see us having more food in common which is a big plus.
Tho wondering why the sign hasn't changed
I got the chance to talk to Alicia one-on-one and all her information was extremely helpful. We talked about the campus, the food, the dorms, and the clothing I should pack. She also talked about how this program changed her views on the role of woman in the 21st century. 
Like I imagined the cheese pupusas were delicious, they were so good that I didn't have time to take a picture. The orchata was also as great, of course I realized this when I went to get a refill.
Oralia's Kitchen in El Cerrito
This dinner got me more exited to go to our dinner in San Francisco and spent more time with the girls. I am so excited to be a part of this group of fun and interesting girls and can’t wait to spend the summer with them.
My selfie turned group photo
I want to thank Don for allowing us a time to meet are chaperon and get to know her before we go across the United States together also allowing us the time to get to know the other girls in our group.  The cherry on top was talking to Alicia who had done the same program last summer.

Pupusas? Don't Mind If I Do

Louisiana Fried Chicken?
How did Jenny know that I loved pupusas? She didn't. I guess that's just how everything works out. Today was the day we finally got to meet and have dinner with our chaperone, Jenny, at Oralia's Kitchen. It was a bit difficult for everyone to locate the restaurant, even with a GPS. You can bet that it was the "Louisiana Friend Chicken" sign that threw us all off. 

I was second to arrive, right after Izabel. Magaly and Cynthia shortly joined us. Jenny arrived soon after wearing her bright, red dress accompanied with a huge smile on her face. She approached and gave everyone a big Ivy League hug. Her presence quickly enlightened the room, and from there on, I knew that she was the perfect chaperone for us. Her sense of humor and optimism was all that I could ever ask for and she quickly gave us a great first impression. 
It's actually Oralia's Kitchen

Jenny was accompanied by another student, Alicia, who also attended Brown's Women and Leadership course last summer. We asked her questions about the program and activities that she did during her attendance in the program last year. She talked about the inferiority of women and how they are portrayed much differently than men in the media. According to her, there were also many group activities as well as small competitions which made the program very fun, since you get to meet loads of people. I'm so glad that Jenny brought Alicia with her, as it helped me become more prepared and excited for my summer at Brown.

Overall, this dinner was a success and one of the funnest that I've ever been in. Eating pupusas, while hanging out with some of the best girls in the world is definitely a night to remember. I recall Alicia saying that she thought that we all went to the same school. She was very surprised with the strong bond that we have as a group and I truly believe that it will get stronger later on. It's funny, I've never met half of these girls until this year, but now I feel like I've known them longer. I guess you can all us the Women and Leadership sisters at Brown. I'm looking forward for a fun summer with them.