Sunday, May 26, 2013

Yale University: Lux et Veritas

Residing in New Haven, Connecticut, Yale University is a private Ivy League research university. The school was founded in 1701 and renamed “Yale College” in 1718 after Elihu Yale for his generous donations to the school. By the nineteenth and twentieth centuries Yale became a true university with the addition of graduate and professional schools. Fun fact: Yale’s motto is “Lux et Veritas” which is Hebrew for “light and truth.”

Yale consists of the college, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and thirteen professional schools. In a city environment, Yale has a campus of 315 acres. It also follows a semester-based academic calendar. Yale is not only known for its rivalry with Harvard University, but for its outstanding drama and music programs and their mascot Handsome Dan, a bulldog.

Yale is a small college and a major research university. It has a student to professor ratio of 5:1 and with roughly 77 percent of its classes having 20 students or less. Students come from all over the country and the world (108 countries) to attend Yale University. Unfortunately for many hopeful students, Yale’s acceptance rate is only 7.7 percent. Yale has a population ratio of 50:50 percent male to female students. Yale began accepting female graduate students in 1869 and undergraduate students in 1969. Roughly 16 percent of the entire population is of international students.

Famous alumni of Yale include Eli Whitney, Benjamin Spock, George H. W. Bush, Paul Newman, and Mary Louis “Meryl” Streep among several others. Eli Whitney, an American inventor, earned his B.A. in 1792 and is most widely known for inventing the cotton gin. Benjamin Spock received his B.A. at the Yale School of Medicine in 1925; he is a famous American pediatrician known for writing the book Baby and Child Care, revolutionizing the way people cared for their children. Vice President to Ronald Reagan and 41st President of the United States, George H. W. Bush received his B.A. in Economics in 1948. American actor, film director, entrepreneur, and humanitarian Paul Leonard Newman attended the Yale School of Drama and received his DRA in 1954. Mary Louise “Meryl” Streep an American movie and theater actress has won two Academy Awards, seven Golden Globes, two Emmy Awards, and many more; she earned her M.F.A. from the Yale School of Drama in 1972.

Some popular majors at Yale include Political Science and Government, Economics, History, Psychology, and Biology/Biological Sciences. At this point because I am undecided, and there are so many options, I have no idea what I would major in if I attended Yale. I do know though that if I were to attend Yale, I would get my M.F.A. at the Yale School of Drama. Considering Meryl Streep is a phenomenal actress, and one of my favorites, I would say the Yale School of Drama has a great track record with exceptional alumni. 


During the first week of this amazing adventure I will share with my cohorts and chaperone, we will tour five schools, one of which being Yale. An Ivy League School and a prestigious university, Yale is definitely one of the many colleges I plan to apply to in the fall. What I find the most intriguing and attractive about Yale is the fact that most of the courses have less than twenty students. Although I am over the moon about attending Columbia this summer, I am jealous of the four young men attending Yale in August.

Take a Stroll into NYU!

One of the campuses we will be visiting on our visit to Columbia is NYU. New York University is one of the most famous icons of New York.  It was founded over 175 years ago, in 1831, by Albert Gallatin who had served as secretary of treasury under Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.  Now, this university is one of the largest private universities in America. Also, it is one of sixty universities in the Association of American Universities.  Now some basic information about the university is that it is an urban 229 acre campus in New York City.  The color is Mayfair Violet and the mascot is the Bobcat. The motto is "To persevere and to excel."  This university has no walls and no gates, and is immersed in New York. 

The center of the campus is Greenwich Village, which is a historic neighborhood.  This neighborhood has attracted countless amazing writers, musicians, and artists. Many famous people are associated with this university.  Let's list some, shall we? Aziz Ansari, Alec Baldwin, Kristen Bell, and Alexis Bledel are just a few of the notable members of New York University. 

This university is the largest private non-profit university in the country and has one of the largest alumni bodies in the world.  36 Nobel Prizes have been won by members or alums of this university. New York University has been featured in many television shows, movies and other media. It has been ranked 22nd among all of universities by Global University Ranking.  One especially interesting fact about this university is that it is the first global network university with campuses all around the world. 

Let's move on to NYU Athletics.  NYU sports teams are fondly referred to as NYU Violets because of their color of course! They are a NCAA Division III school, with sports like cross country, golf, soccer, and fencing.  A surprising fact is that NYU has not had a varsity football team since 1952! They have won two national team championships and many league championships. They also have many club and intramural sports that play in athletic facilities in and around Manhattan.  Many of the varsity teams also play in fields around Manhattan. 

Student life at New York University is also very unique. It is by no means a small school! It has over 18 colleges, schools, and institutes. 38, 391 students were enrolled in this school as of 2012, half which were undergraduates and the other half were postgraduates. The university houses about 12,500 residents so it has the 7th largest university housing in the United States.  Also the university has over 450 student clubs and organizations in the campus.  There is a daily student magazine, a comedy magazine, literary journals and other media. There is also an option to participate in Greek Life, which have historical significance at NYU, like Delta Phi Epsilon, and Delta Sigma Pi. 

New York University is a place where one can learn about all different cultures as well as learn about things like medicine or journalism.  With over thirty thousand students, this school will be a great place to meet new people and to learn about their culture.  Also, one can participate in a wide variety of sports, whether they be varsity, club, or intramural! This would be a great place to get a bachelors or even do a postgraduate! 

The University of Pennsylvania: Expanding Knowledge Beyond Boundaries

While on our trip to Columbia we will being touring various universities and colleges. Among those schools is the Ivy League school, the University of Pennsylvania, the fourth oldest school in the United States and one of the nine Colonial Colleges. Located in Philadelphia, UPenn, as its commonly refereed to, offers a more distinct environment than the hustle and bustle of New York City while still residing in an urban atmosphere.

UPenn has a lot of history tied to its origins. It was originally established in 1740 by an evangelist preacher, George Whitefield, however the cost of construction quickly consumed  the allotted budget, causing the project to reach a standstill. About a decade later, construction resumed after the brilliant inventor and founding father of America, Benjamin Franklin, and 24 of trustees (the first non-sectarian board) purchased the property. In 1751, the new school opened its doors to upper class of society and the common people, an action that was very uncommon among other education centers at the time. Then in 1755 it received its charter.  Throughout time, UPenn has had numerous different names such as: "College of Philadelphia" or "Academy and Charitable School in the Province of Pennsylvania."

Being such a highly prestigious school, UPenn is a very competitive school to be admitted into. The most recent poll shows that out of the 31,128 student that applied in  the fall of  2012, only 3,935 (12.43%) were admitted. While few get in, those that do receive some of the best quality of education in the entire world. The President of the school, Amy  Guttman, stated that Penn was a place to expand knowledge beyond the traditional boundaries. Also important to know is that average student to teacher ratio is 6:1 meaning a more interactive learning environment. Penn is divided into twelve schools, that give students a wide variety of majors to choose from. However, only four of those schools are available to undergraduates: School of Arts and Sciences, School of Engineering and Applied Science, School of Nursing, and the Wharton School. All twelve are available to graduates. The curriculum is, for the most part, is based on Benjamin Franklin ideologies of preparing youth for leadership in fields like business, government involvement and public service. Some of the most popular majors include Finance, Economics and Political Science.  In great part though, education at Penn is research oriented, investing around $923 million as of the 2012 fiscal year. Since its establishment, it has made considerable achievements such as the establishment of the first general-purpose electronic computer and the first American student union building, Houston Hall.

Donald Trump received a degree from
the University of Pennsylvania.
Penn has welcomed numerous great leaders and role models through its doors. One of the most notable alumni is the business magnate, Donald Trump, who graduated from Wharton School (Penn's school of business) in 1968. Another greatly recognized alumni was former president William Henry Harrison. Penn has a total of 28 affiliates who have received a Nobel Prize. Even in only the past two decades there have been : 7 Macarthur Award recipients, 5 National Medal of Science recipients, 4 Nobel Prize recipients, and 5 Pulitzer Prize recipients. In addition the current president of Harvard University, Drew Gilpin Faust, received her Ph.D from UPenn.

Demographics show that the overall population of the university is very diverse in many ways. In the 2012 freshman class: 10% of international students were from Africa and the Middle East, 48% from Asia, 3% from the Pacific and Australia, 19% from Canada or Mexico, 6% from both Central and South America as well as the Caribbean, and 14% were from European Countries. Also the gender is also evenly balanced, with a 53% of students being female and 47% male. Also there is a 56 percentage of students who choose to live in either college-owned, -operated, or -affiliated housing. The other 44% chooses to live off campus.

The campus is another incredible asset that Penn posses. Occupying such a large area, the university showcases more than 200 building and landmarks, amongst which is Franklin Field (the oldest collegiate football stadium still in use and the first double-decked college stadium built in the country).

An intriguing fact about Penn is that, like the principles established by Benjamin Franklin on public service, it is heavily involved in community service. Close to about 13,000 students, staff and faculty partake in over 300 programs that Penn organizes. Recently there was celebration at Penn for the success of the "Making History Campaign" which successfully expanded access to the most talented students, recruited and retained eminent faculty and staff, and made breakthroughs in research and education. There was a total of $4.3 billion raised through campaign, and to celebrate a concert was held at Penn Park ( a beautiful 24-acre area that has  two athletic fields, a multipurpose stadium, a tennis center, and seasonal air structure).

The University of Pennsylvania is an amazing school. Not only does it offer a high quality of education and diversity, but also offers students many gateways for success. With many different majors, Penn offers a student a wide variety of selections that meet the interest of every individual. If I were ever to attend such a prestigious school, like UPenn I would most likely find that my path would lead me to major in Law. Being the 7th best law school in U.S means that a degree from Penn can really boost the possibilities I could have after graduating.  

Sarah Lawrence College

Our first week back East will be filled with tours of distinguished colleges and universities. One of these schools is Sarah Lawrence College. Located in Bronxville New York, Sarah Lawrence offers an alternative to many of the more conventional East Coast colleges. Sarah Lawrence College is a liberal arts school that places an emphasis on the humanities and visual and preforming arts. The college attracts creative, driven individuals who think outside of the box.

Founded in 1926, Sarah Lawrence was originally established with the intention of providing instruction in the arts and humanities for women. Although Sarah Lawrence became coed in 1968, the female to male ratio is three to one.

The landscape of Sarah Lawrence is hilly and green with more than 100 types of trees on campus. The prevailing architectural theme on campus is English Tudor. The founders of the school believed that there should be little separation between work and play, so many of the classrooms and dorms are housed in the same buildings.

Students who attend Sarah Lawrence College have a huge amount of academic freedom. To graduate, it is required that students complete 120 credits in at least three of the four academic areas. Every student designs his or her own program, so there is virtually no competition. Classes are designed around a seminar system, where engagement is key to success. A small student to faculty ratio insures that professors and students know one another. One of the greatest differences about Sarah Lawrence College from other schools is that there are no formal grades. Instead, twice a year, professors write in depth evaluations for each student.

Academics at Sarah Lawrence are rigorous. Students take only three classes per semester so there is no room to fall behind. Professors meet with students weekly and help insure that everyone succeeds.

Not surprisingly, applying to Sarah Lawrence College is different than most schools. Sarah Lawrence does not consider SAT or ACT scores in their application process and instead places a large emphasis on essays.  In 2010, the acceptance rate at Sarah Lawrence College was 62%. I’m sure everyone who was accepted was thrilled to have the opportunity to take part in such a unique and innovative academic system.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Vassar College

On our trip this summer, we will be visiting several other schools near Columbia. New York is home to many elite universities, one of them being Vassar College. Vassar is located just outside Poughkeepsie, 75 miles from New York City.

Vassar (est. 1861) is a liberal arts school renowned for its prestigious academic innovations and its beautiful grounds. Along with the 50 majors that Vassar confers, students may also opt to design their own major, and pursue a broad number of interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary studies. Vassar has a great self-instructional foreign language program, teaching many languages including Hindi, Swahili, and Yiddish. Juniors are encouraged to study abroad, and many do for 1 or 2 semesters in sponsored programs in Spain, France, Italy, Ireland, Russia and Germany. 

Competing in the third division of the NCAA, sports at Vassar are very popular. Vassar has 23 varsity-level competing sports teams : basketball, baseball, women's field hockey, women's golf, squash, volleyball, crew, cross-country, track, swimming/diving and tennis. Vassar also has a variety of intramural sports and other athletic activities. 

36.5% of last year's applicants were admitted to Vassar, demonstrating the college's competitive nature. 10% of Vassar's 2,400-some student body are students from over 50 foreign countries. 98% of students live on campus, and the average class size is 17. 60% of the students admitted to Vassar come from public high schools, typically ranking in the top quarter of their class. 

5 Things You Didn't Know About Vassar - Say Whaaat??

1. The campus is actually an arboretum - there are over 200 species of trees in a native plant preserve, and a 400 acre ecological reservation. 

2. Vassar has one of the country's largest undergrad library collections - over a million volumes in print, and many other resources for research and study. 

3. About 30% of the student body is comprised by students of color. 

4. Vassar was actually an all-women college up until 1969; some men were admitted immediately following WW2. 

5. All of the classes are taught by professors and faculty, there are no teacher's assistants or graduate students. There are more than 250 faculty members who all hold a doctorate degree, the equivalent, or higher. 

Columbia University in New York City

Columbia University is recognized as one of the great Ivy League schools on the East Coast of the United States. Located in the heart of New York, this highly selective university offers students a world renowned education. It is the oldest university in the state of New York and the fifth oldest university in the United States. Columbia received over 33,000 applications in the 2013 application cycle and accepted approximately 2300 undergraduates for freshman admission. They accept about 7% of  applicants, thus making admission to Columbia very competitive. The total enrollment at Columbia University is a little over 28,000, with 6,000 students making up the undergraduate  population. 

The title at the top of the Columbia website is “Columbia University in the City of New York”. Located right in Manhattan, Columbia offers students a beautiful and contained  campus with all the offerings of New York City. For students who desire a college experience in an urban setting, Columbia is an excellent choice. With a subway station just outside campus, students have easy access to all parts of Manhattan. The close proximity also benefits Columbia students in terms of access to internships and jobs in the area. 

Kings College in pre revolutionary New York
Columbia was first founded in 1754 as Kings College through a charter granted by King George the Second. Kings College was located on Madison Avenue in New York City and educated such historical figures as Alexander Hamilton who was the first Secretary of the Treasury and John Jay, an important international diplomat in post-revolutionary America. In 1784 Kings College was renamed Columbia University and in 1886 the campus was moved to its current Morningside Heights location. 

The Morningside Heights campus takes up approximately six city blocks or 36-acres and is iconized by its beautiful central quad. A focal point in the quad is the Butler Library. This is the largest library at Columbia and its pillared facade is a beautiful addition to the campus. Undergraduates at Columbia are grouped into two colleges. The liberal arts based Columbia College and the science focused School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Columbia is surrounded by several other colleges including: Barnard College, Manhattan School of Music, and the Bank Street School of Education. 
Columbia University's Morningside Heights campus
Education at Columbia is intense and rigorous. The unique aspect of Columbia’s education of undergraduates is its extensive Core Curriculum. For undergraduates (particularly during their freshman and sophomore years) the Core Curriculum is a series of required classes in a variety of disciplines. These classes are taken regardless of one’s major or educational interest. Core classes are often year-long and are taught by professors in small section and discussion groups. One of the most well known courses in the Core is called “Literature Humanities”. In this course, students read and  analyze many classic works of literature including Dostoyevsky, Homer, Shakespeare, and Jane Austen. While all students are required to take classes within the Core, students in the Engineering wing of Columbia are only expected to take half of the Core Curriculum’s offerings--this is due to the extensive list of required courses that Engineering students must take.

Columbia University has some of its strongest programs for undergraduates in its liberal arts based education. Programs in english and history as well as political science and economics are ranked highly in the world. Many consider the Core Curriculum as the basis for the great interdisciplinary and unique Columbia education. Columbia also has excellent graduate programs in its law, business, medical, and journalism schools.

Applying to Columbia starts with the Common Application. This includes a personal statement essay and other general information about the applicant (extra curricular activities, grades, test scores, interests, etc.). The Columbia Supplement is an additional piece of the application and generally requires one essay about the students’ reasons for applying to Columbia--Why Columbia?--, and another essay about the students’ interest in applying to either Columbia College or the School of Engineering. Columbia also requires counselor and teacher recommendations and an official school transcript. Finally Columbia requires standardized tests, the SAT with two subject tests or the ACT with writing tests. Once an application has been submitted,  applicants names are given to interviewers in the applicants’ area and many students are offered the opportunity to interview with a Columbia alumnus. Columbia offers generous financial assistance and in 2007, Columbia replaced the loans in financial aid packets with grants, so students are not over encumbered with loans when they graduate. More than half of Columbia students receive financial aid and the average financial aid package offered is $30,000. Columbia does not offer merit-based scholarships for undergraduates.

Columbia offers housing guaranteed for four years, due to the high cost of living in New York City. Approximately 10-15% of students in Columbia are members of fraternities or sororities. The university offers many club and activities to its student population. One that was very interesting to me, as a member of El Cerrito High School’s Debate Team, was the oldest club on the  Columbia campus, known as the debate Philolexian Society which was founded in 1802. This group participates in speech and debate events all over the country. 

President Obama was
educated at Columbia University
Columbia University is a school with its name found all over American and world history. Columbia has had the honor of educating three U.S. Presidents (including President Barack Obama), 26 leaders of countries around the world, 9 Supreme Court Justices, the first female Secretary of State, as well as a total of 79 Nobel Prize winners. In the arts, graduates include: composers Rodgers and Hammerstein, authors J.D. Salinger and Langston Hughes, and painter Georgia O’Keefe. 

Columbia is a school rich in history, high academic standards, and with a legacy that stands strong today. Situated in the heart of New York, Columbia offers students the diverse and opportunity-filled urban location of New York City,  while providing them with a beautiful campus, access to world renowned professors, exposure to challenging and varied educational offerings, research and internship possibilities, and the opportunity to study at one of the world’s top universities. I am incredibly honored and excited to attend Columbia University’s “Constitutional Law” program this summer and experience all of the great things that Columbia and New York City have to offer!
Columbia offers an Ivy League education in the heart of New York City.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Another Step Ahead

This evening, ILC members, who either lived or attended school in Pinole, attended a brief City Council meeting. Here, we were to show the public a bit of what the ILC program was all about and the great benefits that come along with being a part of it.
The Entrance of Pinole City Hall
Before the meeting began, Don pulled all the ILCers aside and went over what we were to expect to come up and the layout of the entire presentation. He also went over the order each cohort would go up in. Once Don had finished telling us all we needed to know, we were set loose to await the beginning of the meeting.
Imagine speaking here, but with many more eyes on you
After about an thirty extra minutes of anxiety, the meeting began. Luckily we were the first group on the agenda, which really expedited the entire event for us. Don began with a description of the ILC program as well as how the program was completely unique to the West Contra Costa Unified School District.

After his brief speech, Don began calling up each cohort. Each group had a representative who needed to  explain a bit of the significance of the ILC program in our lives as well as the benefits we would  hope to bring back to our community.

Being the only member of my cohort who goes to school in Pinole, I was chosen as the speaker for the Columbia group. After about three cohorts, I was finally called up to give my speech. I will admit that at the beginning I was very nervous and heavy with jitters. I have done public speaking before; being a part of my school's debate team really is effective preparation and a beneficial experience. However, nothing prepared me for speaking in front of an audience, a City Council, and whoever happened to be tuning in on Pinole TV at the time. It really made me think how our president, Barrack Obama, must feel before he gives a speech to the entire nation. Then I began to think of every trick I had ever been taught in my debate team meetings on how to calm nerves; then it came to me. Before  beginning to speak I employed the only strategy  that had ever been completely effective at calming my jitters- I took a deep breath. Focusing on what it was I had to say and explain, I was able to quickly build my confidence and not choke under my self-inflicted pressure.
Me speaking at the City Council Meeting
Once every cohort had gone up and the Council Members had given feedback on the program, the only thing that remained to finish off with a group photo. After which we set free to go home. I found the evening to be a very enjoyable one. It was nice seeing some the other ILCers again, even though I attend school with most of the ones that were there. Also this event did get me even more excited to embark on the journey East because of all the amazing achievements our predecessors had accomplished after returning. I found amazing the description Don gave of how many of the students that came back from this programs were able to get into highly selective and prestigious schools when they applied after high school. It really made me proud to be a part of the program.  

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Thirty-Eight ILC Students Presented to the School Board!

On Wednesday night all thirty-eight of the Ivy League Connection students were presented to the West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) School Board at the school board meeting. We all arrived at the Lavonya Dejean Middle School around six o'clock. 

Because the meeting had not yet started, we all mingled with our cohorts and other ILC students for about a half an hour. Among the people I mingled with during this half an hour was Tomi Balogun. She is also a student at Middle College High School and went to Columbia last year (this is her second year with the ILC). She recommended places to go and things to see while in New York City.  

At roughly 6:30 the meeting began. All of the ILC students sat with their cohorts and chaperones. After conducting a  few orders of business the Board stopped the meeting in order for the ILC students to be presented. Each cohort went up with their chaperone. The chaperone introduced themselves, the students, the school they are going to, the courses the students are going to take, and the schools they are going to tour. (I am definitely jealous of the cohorts that are touring Harvard.) At the end of the chaperone's speech, they would introduce their student speaker. Simon was the speaker for the Columbia cohort.

The student speaker portions of the event were my favorite parts of the evening. All of the speeches were roughly 2-4 minutes long. I liked them so much because they were all so inspirational. It was very interesting listening to several different students from several different schools and backgrounds share their experiences and thoughts of the Ivy League Connection. As an audience member and a student in the same position as the speakers I could really relate to what they were saying, their thankfulness, and their excitement. They have made this whole experience and future events seem so much more real.

Another part of the evening that I greatly enjoyed was at the end and all of the ILC cohorts had been presented. Mrs. Kronenberg and Mr. Ramsey spoke for several minutes about the Ivy League Connection making me feel even more grateful for this amazing opportunity. They also managed to put everything into perspective and show just how immense this experience will be.

The final part of the evening was when Don took the big picture! I sat in the front row on the very end. After he positioned the students, he positioned the parents. He took about 20+ pictures. By the end, my cheeks hurt and I was seeing spots.

Being presented to the Board and hearing all of the wonderful heartfelt speeches is something I will never forget. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

With our Adoring Fans!

Yesterday was the School Board meeting at Lovonya Dejean Middle School in Richmond, CA. I arrived early, because I did not want to be the last one of my cohort who arrived! When I got there everyone was scattered around but soon our entire cohort arrived and we were able to get our flag and get ready. Once that was done, and before the meeting started, we were able to mingle with other members of ILC and get to know everyone better.  

At first the School Board had to vote on a few measures, which was very interesting to see since I had never seen such a meeting before. Then it was the ILC's turn to go up to the podium.  We went in alphabetical order so we were the fourth cohort to go up.  It was pretty nerve wracking to go in front of all the Board members and TV cameras, with so many people staring at our backs.  However all the speakers did an amazing job even though they must have been nervous as well. 

After all the speeches and kind words I heard, I have finally realized that everyone truly just wants us to be the best we can.  They are not supporting us for themselves, they are supporting us to be ambassadors of our District.  The sponsors and everyone else who has made the Ivy League Connection possible wants all the students to be equal with those from other areas, to those who are able to afford the Ivy League visits which many kids from WCCUSD are not able to afford.  The motivational speeches by the Board members as well as the alums were simply inspirational. 

Once that was all over, we went to take a group picture, well make that 20 pictures.  It made my mouth cramp and eyes water but it was worth it because I know the final product will be beautiful.  

This event has opened my eyes to the value that the Ivy League Connection holds in many peoples eyes.  The summer programs are truly life changing events, and I can not wait to experience the Presidential Powers program at Columbia University.  One of the things I want to do most at this point is to increase awareness of the Ivy League Connection and to explain to everyone what the importance is.  Many people just think it is a way to spend a summer in the East Coast, but it is so much more than that.  It is something that words can not express. I am so thankful to all those who are making it possible for us WCCUSD students to go to the East Coast this summer. I already know that it will be a wonderful experience with the five other people in my cohort and I will have the time of my life!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

An Inspirational and Motivating Experience

Lovonya Dejean Middle School
Today marked another great leap on the road to Columbia University. At Lovonya Dejean Middle School, all thirty-eight member of the ILC 2013 group, gathered to attend a School Board meeting and receive recognition for all our great achievements as well as those of the ILC program. Aside from that everyone also got a chance to meet some of the other ILCers who were going to participate in other programs this summer.

Once everyone had arrived everyone split up into their cohorts. At this point, Ms. L, gave all of us in the Columbia cohort a brief description of how the event would go on as well as a summary of a few important details Don had e-mailed us all about earlier. After a few minutes the meeting began and everyone took their seats.

After the School Board had voted on a few proposals and issues, the recognition of the ILC program and all of its members finally arrived. Every cohort was called up individually in alphabetical order, making the Columbia cohort third, since the Brown cohort is divided into two separate cohorts. As my cohort and I, along with our outstanding chaperone Ms. L, made our way to the center where the podium was situated I could tell that everyone there was proud of all of us for our achievements. The speaker for our cohort, Simon Cohen, did an amazing job of summarizing the key values of the ILC program and the appreciation we all had for everyone that made the program possible. After all the cohorts went up and their respective speakers spoke (all of which did a fantastic job), we proceeded to thanking the people who made the program all possible: Mrs. Kronenberg, Mr. Ramsey, Don, and all the funders who provided the means for all of us to be able to head East for the summer.

Following that, there were four guest speakers, all alumni of the ILC program who graduated from Pinole Valley High School,  spoke about their experiences. Most of their speeches discussed how the ILC program benefited them and made them strive to become better. They all agreed on the wondrous benefits the program would give us such as a sense of what a college life and education are like as well as the opportunities that lie  beyond the Bay Area. I found each of their stories to be an inspiration to me. Through their words the thought of always trying to succeed and giving everything my best came to my mind. The idea that in reality, it did not matter where you came from or who you were, but rather the amount of effort you place in achieving greater success. These thoughts still echo through my mind at this very moment.

Another highlight of the evening was the motivating and passionate speech that Mr. Ramsey generously gave. A lot similar to the speech he gave at our dinner, May 13, the focus was centered around selflessness and giving back to the community. He painted a very vivid image in my mind of how I am represented as a torch and that the ILC program is the spark that lets me illuminate the way for others. He talked about how the entire basis of the ILC program was to give back to others and help them aspire to attend college, even maybe outside the Universities of California system. Another key element of his speech that really made my mind open was that we all had to be proud of where we came from, the West Contra Costa Unified School District. A saying that I have always been told but am now finally beginning to comprehend is "never forget where you came from". This saying was told to me by my soccer coach after reaching the varsity level but am now beginning to realize that the deeper meaning is that regardless of where you end up in life and no matter how successful you become, you should always be proud of where of your heritage.

Upon conclusion of Mr. Ramsey's speech, we were all released to take a group photo including all the cohorts, chaperones and parents. It turned out to be an incredibly large photo, which led to the taking of many photos by Don in order to ensure that the final product would be the best it could be.

The night was very inspiring and motivating to me. Not only did it get me even more excited to attend my class at Columbia during the summer.

In the end, I found the entire experience to be very inspirational and motivating. Not only did it get me even more excited to attend my class at Columbia University this summer, but also opened my eyes to an entirely new ideology. Always be proud of where you came but never forget where that is; a saying I have begun to value immensely.
The Columbia Cohort and Chaperone with certificates (minus one who was unable to be found at the time)