Thursday, May 31, 2012

Vanderbilt Bound

I realized tonight what had yet to hit me in the past six months; I am going to Vanderbilt University. Of course, I have known that I will be attending this prestigious university for some time now, but it never really hit me until tonight. 

This evening, my fellow ILC peers and I congregated at Pinole Middle School for the final milestone event of the program: the orientation. I felt nostalgic as I walked across the campus of my old middle school to the multipurpose room, which was where the meeting was to take place. I titled my head as far back as my neck allowed and stared at the newly renovated school. A smile found its way to my lips as memories of middle school days returned to me. It felt strange coming back. I had changed so much since I left this school, I had learned so much. 

" Hey, you have to sign in," my father said, snapping out of my reverie. He was staring down at a piece of paper with the word Vanderbilt printed in bold across the top of the page. We signed our names and entered the room. I lead my father to a seat at the front and began digging through my bag for my notebook. "Make sure you take good notes," my father whispered to me. We sat in silence for a while as we waited for the meeting to start.

The first few minutes of the meeting consisted of Don and Mr. Ramsey giving some announcements, followed by a brief introduction of the chaperones. I listened to each person speak as I scanned the handouts that were passed out. After all the speeches were through, we all headed into separate classrooms to meet with our cohorts. Mr. Mannix, my chaperone, handed out some very detailed documents containing all our travel information. We discussed our plans for our trip; where we are going, what we plan to do at the cities we stop in, who we are to have dinner with, etc. Before I knew it, we were all called back into the multipurpose room for a few final words until the orientation was over. 

I left the orientation feeling more informed about my trip. I feel more comfortable now that I know the details of the trip. The final step is done, and I am now one step closer to Vanderbilt. 

On My Way To Vanderbilt

These past couple of weeks has been an incredible journey for me, and now that my trip back east is coming ever closer, I find myself becoming more and more excited by the day. 

This evening, I went to my former school, Pinole Middle, for the final ILC event before we leave for Vanderbilt: the orientation. The orientation was replete with a whole lot of helpful information regarding our departure times, and even items to take in our luggage. Even though there are many things we need to take on our trip, Don is there to help us out by loaning some of these items out. I am extremely grateful for this because I certainly do not want to go buy all of these items myself. Don really goes out of his way to help us all, and I cannot give enough thanks for his part in the ILC.

This orientation also reminded me how important we are to our district. In fact, WE are the sole representatives of our community and we must set a high example for everyone to see. When we go to Nashville, we will be meeting not only kids from across the United States, but also the whole world. This is great for me because I am a naturally inquisitive person, and will probably ask a whole lot of questions about these foreigners, whether they are from the U.S. or not. 

Madeline Kronenberg also reminded all of us of how important our part is when we come back. This is not only supposed to benefit you, but also everyone else in your community. This scholarship is not like any ordinary scholarship as well. It is not just a prize; it is a job, a job that must be carried out with hard work, diligence, and ambition. As Ms. Kronenberg said, “Take this opportunity and remember that it is also for the 25,000 people that did not get to go.” In the end, the ILC is all about how we represent and give back to our community, with as much spirit you can possibly give. 

After these couple of speeches, we all went to a room with our respective cohorts. There, the Vandy chaperone, Mr. Mannix gave us a plan of the 3 weeks of our trip. As I was reading the schedule, I realized how crazy it was, I mean we have a dinner the night we arrive! Still, that is exactly what makes our trip so exciting; we will never have a dull moment of doing nothing. We will always be planning, working, and having fun. 

Speaking of fun, we also have a “day off” on July 4, in Washington D.C, where we can spend the day doing whatever we want. I can’t wait to see the astounding fireworks in the birthplace of America. I know this day will be one of the most unique. As we were talking about the Washington D.C., all of us joked about seeing the President of the United States there, since he might be in the area for the celebration. I personally think that talking to him can be an incredible opportunity not only for us, but also for the ILC because we can get the chance to tell him about us and this exceptional program. This is of course, wishful thinking, however it does not mean it is totally impossible. 

By the end of the orientation I was feeling happier than ever. In a matter of weeks, I will be on my way to a whole new place. A place where I can learn about myself and my potential. Our real journey has begun and it is time to take off those training wheels and set us all free. This is our time, and we need to make the most of it. Thank you Mr. Ramsey, Don, Ms. Kronenberg, and chaperones for guiding us every step of the way. I know we will make you proud. 

Last Milestone Event, The Milestone Journey Begins

Wow! All of us ILCers are almost on our way back East! Tonight, we all attended our last milestone event, the ILC Orientation. I once again arrived early, because punctuality is key in being part of the Ivy League Connection. Mr.Ramsey and Don couldn't stress enough how important being on time is, because back East no train or plane will wait for us. Ms.Kronenberg stressed the fact that we can still be taken out from this exceptional program, and that we all earned our right to be here. As the Ivy League Connection program supports us, we must support them. This trip is not like any other scholarship, it comes with strings attached. It is each of our duty to represent our schools, our towns, and most definitely our district, as we meet new people, particularly admissions officers. It's interesting to know that the first thing admission counselors do, is Google our names. The first thing that will pop up is our Ivy League Connection blog leaving a lasting impression on them. Although I'm only a sophomore, my first step for college has already begun. It's an overwhelming feeling to know that the ILC cares about the future leaders and ambassadors of this world.

This program is giving their full support for us even towards the small, but important parts of our trip. I am very thankful for Don for giving us an opportunity to borrow loaner items. This is a huge load of help to many families, so we don't have to spend a lot of money for the things we need. From bed sheets to a laptop security cable, Don has it! The Ivy League Connection is preparing us for this trip very well, and I am so grateful for that.

Additionally, I obtained a lot of information as we broke off into our respective groups by the school we are attending this summer. Let me not forget to mention the beautiful new campus our orientation was held at, Pinole Middle School. I got a chance to use the first new building in seventh grade, but this newer building is also very nice. My cohort, our parents, and of course our chaperone, Mr.Mannix, gathered in a classroom and discussed our itineraries back East. As I skimmed over the large stapled packet of all our plane, train, and hotel information, I grew more and more excited. It was a relief that we don't have to wake up super early for our first flight to North Carolina, but to get up around 3 in the morning is still pretty early. I am very impressed on how organized the ILC program is, giving us each and every detail for our transportation and hotel reservations. It also lifts a burden off our parent's shoulders, knowing that we are put in safe hands. On top of the very important packet, our chaperone gave us an itinerary for the places we will be going, and things will be doing on the East Coast. Our very hectic schedule is packed with college tours of Duke University, Georgetown University, and University of Pennsylvania, an amazing fourth of July at Washington DC,  and even dinners with college admission officers and alumnus. Being the only cohort going to Duke University, Mr.Ramsey made sure that we will put a first good impression on the school, and hopefully start a relationship with them and the ILC. It is very exciting to see what has been planned for us, and just by looking at the itinerary, I know for sure, we will all have a blast.

This Ivy League Connection program is not only giving us the opportunity to explore the beautiful college campuses back East, study with a college professor, make connections with people who can put a great impact on our  futures, but also come back as a better person. Mr.Ramsey said to all of us, "You're opening doors, let's continue to make it happen." This program is not only impacting us, ILCers, but also the thousands upon thousands who don't get this opportunity. The ILC wants each one of us to come back as an active ambassador, so that all students know they have many opportunities set before them.

As I was talking to Yohanna Pepa, who is an ILC alumni, a rising junior at Yale University, and who will also be participating at the Yale Grand Strategies program this summer, she told me to, "Put a lot of effort in, because that's how much you'll get out." She reassured me that all ILCers got to this point, because we each deserved it, so we should make the most out of it and have fun. I must remember to go back East with an open mind to the different cultures and endless possibilities.

This orientation was just another reminder that we've made it! All of our hard work has been put in and we're almost there. With high expectations, new challenges, exciting plans, and  new places to explore, I know we'll have an unforgettable experience. One more month, then Yessenia Reyna, Chris Han, Narges Sahibzada, Mr.Mannix, and I are off to the East coast! Next up, packing!