Monday, August 11, 2014

Just Where Do I Begin? An Experience of a Lifetime...

Where it all began...The Interview!
If you told me 6 months ago that I'll be attending Brown University in the summer with a scholarship, I'd say that you were out of your mind. But hey, I guess I was wrong. I just don't know where to begin; from the very first meeting that go us here to the weary nights of writing essays and turning them in before the deadline, or even the tutorials that presented us a set of rules to the fancy dinners that didn't cost us a dime. Let's not forget about the endless waves of emails sent to each of us almost at least once a week, with reminders as well as tasks to do. This sounds like loads of work being dumped on a normal high school student but I'll tell you what, it's all worth it in the end. 

I really can't write just how much I thank Mr. Ramsey, Ms. Kronenberg, and Don Gosney for creating a program such as this that really gives students in my district a chance to discover and experience an Ivy League School. All the hard work and dedication that they put in this program really shows just how important the students  in the West Contra Costa Unified School District are to them. I know that most of the schools, especially mine, are that of low income and many people believe that the students won't make it far. But this program helps prove all the doubters wrong, I can tell you that. I also thank all the staff/teachers at school and sponsors of the program for believing in us and assisting us from the beginning. Everything that the ILC has to offer at no cost is one heck of an opportunity given by the district. I just hope that more students take advantage of this opportunity because it can really change your life, like it did with mine. 
From the School Board Meeting

From the moment I attended the first ILC meeting, I knew that I had to apply for the program. I mean, I really had nothing else better to do this summer, so why not? I was warned about the amount of dedication and work that we had to put in order to get in, but this didn't scare me at all. I remember when I got called up for an interview for the Vanderbilt program. Unfortunately, I didn't get accepted and I was a bit overwhelmed with this outcome. But I didn't let this small setback stop me, and because of this rejection, I was able to apply and get accepted to another course: Women and Leadership at Brown University. Before attending the Women and Leadership course, I used to just laugh and joke about the stereotypical comments about women with my friends and just ignore the baffling, sexist commercials that we see on TV. But now this course has opened up a new perspective for me in how women are portrayed and treated in the social media and even in everyday life. I just never knew how much women are oppressed in comparison with men whether it is in sports, jobs, and even in movies. Women in movies are always shown as the weaker link and it always takes a man protagonist to save them. But what if it was the other way around? It would seem so weird and different to see because that's just how the media has taught us and continues to teach us, unless we change it. This is where the leadership part of the class comes in. All the activities that we did as a group really help me improved in my leadership as well as my skills in teamwork and communication. These skills and knowledge that I've gained I hope to bring back to community and to assist in implementing my action plan as well.

After this summer, I was pretty happy that I got rejected from Vanderbilt. I really just can't explain just how much fun I had at Brown. Maybe it was the beautiful campus, or the life-changing course that I took, but it wasn't just that. It was the people. All the wonderful people at Brown that I ended up meeting now has a special place in my heart. It might sound a little dramatic but it's true. It felt so weird at first being in a different environment away from home, as well as meeting a wide variety of students from all over the country and some even international. But after spending time with the people at Brown, all that weird feeling went away and I just felt like I was at home. And because of this I can't thank ILC enough for giving me this opportunity to experience an Ivy League School such as Brown as well as interact with a very diverse group of students in the summer@brown program. One of the greatest things that I got out of this program was the fact that I met so many young, bright, and amazing students in the program that I could possibly meet. 
To our first day at Brown hauling luggages to our dorm
To the endless nights of blogging

Everything that has happened this two weeks at Brown felt so surreal, like as if it was a dream. Now I'm back home writing this blog and remembering all the fun times I had in the East Coast as well as all the things that I've learned that truly made this program a life-changing experience. It's so different now. I was used to waking up in the morning and seeing my roommate, Ofir still asleep on the other side of the room, trying not to wake her up as I prepare for my day. I was used to saying good morning to everyone that I saw in the hallways and bathroom even if my face and hair was a mess. I was used to walking with my group to the Vdub or Ratty for breakfast, then making our way to CIT 219 and see the beautiful face of Dean Almandrez greet us. I was just so used to everything that Brown offered me that I felt like I was at home. I was so comfortable with everyone since they motivated me to get out of my comfort zone and just be myself, and because of that I was able to discover new things about me along this two week journey. But the most important thing of it all was that I developed a family-like relationship with everyone there, including my cohort. Just spending time and seeing each other every single day you just feel like you found another home within the dorms and in class. It's crazy to think about; and I never thought how two weeks with strangers can turn into family just like that. It's hard to express what I feel just on this blog. But all I hope is to see the wonderful faces of those in the summer program again later on in the future. 

Just say that we made it! The ILC Women and Leadership Cohort of 2014
Action Plan Presentations 7/31/14
We thank you Ivy League Connection and Brown University for an amazing summer!
And let me just take a moment to thank the wonderful leaders in my Women and Leadership class who really taught me more than I can ever imagine. I spent two weeks of my summer with them and it was literally the best two weeks of my life. From all the activities and deep conversations that we had in class, I can imagine just how successful they will be in the future in implementing their action plan and achieving so much more. This class was filled with unique talents and personality that you can't find elsewhere and I'm just fortunate enough to be a part of it. This wasn't just my class, it was my family. And let's not forget that this class had one of the best (if not the best) and most inspiring instructor of all time, Dean Almandrez! If you're reading this, thank you Dean Almandrez for motivating and inspiring us to become the great leaders that we are today. I hope that this won't be the last time we'll all see each other...
The Women and Leadership Class of 2014!

"Watch out, we're taking over the world!"
-Stephanie Wang
"I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me."

-Maya Angelou

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