The moment our daughter, Hannah Lee, mentioned to us that she would apply for the Ivy League Connection, without hesitation and doubt my wife and I gave to her our blessings. We knew that it would not be an easy undertaking she would undergo also considering the experience of our son, Henry III who applied a few years back and did not make it. However, we saw in our daughter her desire and determination to experience the program. We believe she heard a lot of the memorable experiences from those who already underwent the program and how those experiences impacted their lives. They believed in her talent and ability and encouraged her to apply. She received a lot of support from them and on several occasions they gave her tips and the preparation she needed in her application.
Preparing for this undertaking, Hannah Lee, showed a lot of patience researching for the program she would apply to. She connected the program given to her to her long time dream of what she wants to be in the future. She had a lot of questions in mind and sought several people for some answers. Of those she asked for help and assistance, we believed they gave it to her joyfully and supportively. Patiently and consistently she prepared herself for the battle ahead of her. She admitted it was not an easy one, but along the process of preparations we noticed she had grown maturely.
As her parents and taking some cue from her brother, Henry, we all gave our utmost support and prayers. I could vividly remember on the day of her interview, I saw in my daughter both nervousness and confidence and when I dropped her that morning in school, she just uttered to me, “Dad, pray for me”. The rest I would say, a moment as a father will always remember about her daughter.
She arrived at the library at the start of the interview at 8 AM, and she was the last applicant to be interviewed. I could just imagine the anxiousness of waiting she had for almost four hours. But it paid off; she was accepted. It was a joy of celebration for all of us in the family, and it was the beginning of a new journey in the life of our daughter and the experience that awaited her at Vanderbilt University.
When she received all the necessary papers from the ILC: forms to fill in, medical requirements, rules, guidelines to follow, and parents participation we made it a priority to submit all requirements before the deadline. She gave us also a copy of the calendar of activities and the important dates where we, as parents, needed to attend. She asked me to attend the Dinner at One Market and asked my wife to attend the rest of the orientation activities. The moment she received the email about the dinner, I asked for a copy of it for me to apply for a day off at work. My wife and I were so excited and looking forward for those days where we were asked to attend to meet those people who made this program possible.
The dinner at One Market was one occasion I will never forget. I felt humbled meeting the coordinators, chaperones, and the sponsors of this program as well as the other students and their parents. I may not have had the chance to meet all the sponsors and alumni but I felt grateful to all of them for their support and dedication to a cause like the Ivy League Connection.
Another excitement I had that night was to hear Hannah speak as their designated speaker of the group—which she accepted confidently. She spoke confidently, full of expectations on her mind. We believed she spoke from her heart and conveyed to all, the feelings of what it feels to be a part of the ILC program. And of course, we all cannot forget the sumptuous dinner we had.
On my wife’s part, she attended the meetings on orientation. She even told me that she too learned a lot from the orientation and felt excited to get all the requirements and things needed in this program.
There were several occasions where both parents had to attend. We were able to attend the Pinole City Council meeting where the ILC participants were recognized and met the city officials of Pinole. Another big event was at the West Contra Costa Board meeting where again, the ILC participants were recognized before the officers and the community as well. Then we had this BIG picture taken with all of the ILC participants with their parents and chaperones.
As the days came close to their trip to Vanderbilt University, so did our relationship as a family. It drew us closer to one another. It would be the first time, Hannah will be away from us for almost a month. My wife and I could not express well how it felt to be away from Hannah for several days. She had been away for us a week at most, when she and her brother Henry attended the Pipe Organ Encounter, a yearly summer activity to other states for both of them as church pipe organ scholars.
A few days before their trip we, the parents of the group, had a meeting with their chaperone, Mr. Mannix. He was so caring to the group and he assured us parents that our children will be in good hands throughout their trip to the East Coast.
The send off day on that early Monday morning was full of well wishes, hugs, kisses and prayers.
Their trips to Duke University, Georgetown University, and the University of Pennsylvania were all amazing experiences they had. They celebrated the Fourth of July watching the beautiful fireworks in Washington D.C. They also visited several important landmarks. These tours and visits will always be remembered by them.
The Vanderbilt summer activities of Hannah Lee were so full of learning, insights, meeting new friends, teachers, proctors, gaining new experiences, and a fulfillment of memories she will always treasure. We saw her grow maturely as she gained a better understanding of what courses she wants to take when she will graduate from high school. She shared with us her experiences meeting different officials of the universities they visited, how they were welcoming and engaging, and the different tips they learned on how to apply for admission to a university. She, too, had a great glimpse of what a university is like and a life in a university. Every day we read her blog and her cohorts’. We read their blogs with joy and for Hannah Lee her friends in the church who already missed her, had also enjoyed reading her blogs.
The pictures she sent us were all manifestations of how she enjoyed her stay in the university. Her pictures will be a treasure she will one day proudly share with others. Her experiences were priceless.
When we met her again after 27 days, we knew our Hannah Lee had changed: more mature, more responsible, and most of all she had a deeper appreciation of the value and importance of learning, experiences, friendship, and fun. She is still searching within herself to see if a college outside of California is right for her, but she will keep her mind open to the wonderful possibilities out there.
My wife and I will always be ever thankful to the coordinators of the Ivy League Connection: Mr. Charles Ramsey, Don Gosney, Ms. Kronenberg, and, Mr. Mannix, just to name a few. Our prayers to your vision and mission in this program is that it will be realized and be achieved. To the sponsors, without them I believe this won’t materialize; may you continue to support this program. To Hannah Lee’s fellow cohorts whom I believe had created an “inner” family within them; to the parents, my wife and I will always treasure your friendship.
Henry E. Pablo Jr. and Josephine P. Pablo