Tuesday, May 15, 2012

An Inspiring Night

When I arrived at the Pinole City Council meeting with my fellow Vandy partner, Narges Sahibzada, I saw Dyana So there, sketching in her calendar. We chatted with her for a while, discussing what was in store for the night. Dyana started talking about how such a great opportunity these meetings are since they allow us to show how we can make our community a better place. 

As we all entered the council room, I noticed how small the room was. However, the room was bright and very warm which gave it this cozy, home-like feel to it. When we finally got started, Mr. Ramsey introduced us all and gave us a lot of praise that really made me feel proud of myself. I felt especially honored when Ms. Kahn spoke and she got a little emotional expressing how proud she was of all of us. It honestly touched my heart. 

Our student speakers who were past ILC members began describing just how much the ILC and the Pinole Valley community has changed their lives. They were all students living in a small town that have great futures ahead of them. For one, Austin Long, who has just finished his first year at Yale. He described all of the wonderful things he has done for our school such as creating these science outreach activities, which is a great program that gets elementary school kids motivated and excited about science. Another ILC alum,  Dyana So talked about being born in Hong Kong and how the biggest plans she had for herself before the ILC was UC Berkeley. However, now that the ILC has expanded her outlook on other universities, she has chosen to attend the University of Pennsylvania, being the first in her family to go to college. These are the things that show that no matter who you are, and where you come from, you can go wherever you want to go, and you can be who you want to be.

As our presentations went on, us new ILC members had the opportunity to speak in front of the council and express our gratitude to our community. I was pleased with what everyone had to say, and I honestly believe all of us are going to go far one day. By the end, some of the people of the council, Timothy Banuelos, Roy Swearingen, Peter Murray, Debbie Long, and Phil Green all congratulated us on our achievements. “You guys were all awesome,” said Mr. Green. Other council members also complimented us on how confidently we spoke, “far beyond our years,” said one of them. All of these things show how appreciative city of Pinole is. We even got some wonderful medals that were presented to us during the meeting.

This night has motivated me to try my absolute best in everything that I do, because now I know that even though I am a Hispanic girl living in a small town, I can do anything. I can’t wait to embark on my journey to Vanderbilt to finally bring back personal experiences to lead others into taking that giant leap forward, and not being afraid to take it.

Once again, I thank all of those who were there, including Mr. Ramsey, Don Gosney, Sue Kahn, Madeline Kronenberg, and the city council members for making this night happen.

From Small Beginnings to Prestigious Schools

Attending my second Pinole City Council meeting was another great honor. I attended one a couple of months ago in recognition for the Pinole Valley High School Marching Band performing in the San Francisco Chinese New Year's Parade. But this evening was something different. Ten Pinole Valley students had the amazing opportunity to be recognized each for being an Ivy League Connection ambassador, by the City Council. We even got to receive special medals, as elite Pinole Valley Students.
After listening to the many speeches, from each ILCer, ILC administrators, chaperones, and alumni, I had an overwhelming feeling of great achievement. It was great to hear from Austin Long, Dyana So, Alex Elms, and Andrew Gonzales about how the Ivy League Connection each touched their lives. Now that they are going on to Ivy League Schools, you can see how proud they are to be products of Pinole Valley High, particularly the Ivy League Connection. It's amazing to see how they each came from a small town, competing with students coming from prestigious public and private high schools, and succeeding into attending an Ivy League college. It has proven that although we come from a low income school, we ALL can succeed if we want to. 
It was an honor to also speak to the City Council, expressing my gratitude for their support of public education and beyond. I am really excited as the Vanderbilt Summer Academy approaches. "With great gifts, comes great responsibility." Pinole Valley High School has given me and many of my peers an opportunity to explore the world outside the small town of Pinole, and in return I am willing to come back with an eagerness to share my wonderful experiences with other students to encourage them and inspire them to fulfill a higher education. I thank the city of Pinole for pushing us in the right direction.