Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Our Yalies Depart

It was dark outside.  It was also chilly with a wind that helped the chill slice right through us. But then again it was 4:30 in the morning so why should we expect anything different?

Our Yale Ivy Scholars—Marisol Clemens, Brandon Amargo, Henry Hung and Connor Miller—gathered at El Cerrito High School with their chaperone Mario Miranda to board the airport shuttle that will begin their journey to New Haven, Connecticut where they will spend the next several days visiting Princeton University, the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University and Dartmouth University.

Accompanying them on this initial phase of the journey were ILC administrators Madeline Kronenberg and Charles Ramsey.

Before boarding the airport shuttle, our scholars went through the Gosney Bazaar where they could pick from baskets of umbrellas, laundry bags, computer cables, laptop security cables, Ethernet cables and even alarm clocks—all just to make sure they had what they needed to survive the next three weeks at Yale.

Fond farewells were said with the obligatory hugs from the parents and then the requisite group photo was taken before they headed east to seek knowledge that will turn them from mere high school students into future pillars of our community.

Studying Grand Strategy under Dr. Dr. Minh Luong, they will cram a full year’s study into just fourteen days.  Attending class from dawn to well past dusk, they will then be allowed to return to their dorm rooms to read a few hundred pages, prepare their Marshall Brief and study some more—and some more—and some more.

Our four Ivy Scholars will depart well prepared for this course having already read the 3,749 pages of material that will be studied and discussed.  Books about the Peloponnesian War, Homeland Security, Sun Tzu, the ancient Chinese and Greeks, Genghis Khan as well as the inimitable Cyrus the Great will ready our adventurous students for this course.  (The book on Cyrus the Great has been said to be one of the best books ever written and one of our Yalies has already vowed to read it to his future children as bedtime reading.)

Students from previous years have written about this program. They write that our Yalies will be swamped with their studies and be given instruction from some of the greatest minds in their respective fields. From across the nation, though, previous Ivy Scholars have lamented that they would give anything for just another hour’s sleep.  I’m sure that when our Yalies return they may likely add to that chorus.

We wish our Yalies well.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Cornellians TRY to get to Ithaca

June 23rd, 2010

Packed to the gills for their 24 day adventure in Ithaca our Cornell cohorts met at El Cerrito HS early on June 23rd where they had their baggage weighed, received their laptop security cables, took a solemn oath to blog every day and then hopped on their airport shuttle to take them on the first leg of their adventure at Cornell.

Studying under Professor Kramnick in his course: Freedom & Justice: An Introduction to Political Philosophy are Alex Elms, Andrew Gonzales, Andrew Woo and Dyana So.  Across campus Jacky Lares, Beilul and Chris Habash will study under Professors Reneta and Mark McCarthy in the course: Hotel Operations Management: Tactics for Profitability.  Both of these courses are rigorous endeavors but the education learned there has, in the past, been invaluable tools for our ILC team members.

Although their collective travel plans were well mapped out there was little they could do when Chicago's O'Hare Airport was shut down due to extreme weather conditions.  There just seems to be something about aircraft and tornados (with lightning) that aren't a good mix.

The Cornell contingent spent their first night in a variety of airport lounges as they were moved from gate to gate and had the opportunity to enjoy some of the finest cuisine available in late night airport eateries before their flight was finally cancelled.

Along for the ride, ILC Administrator Charles Ramsey had to scramble to find an alternative means of getting to Ithaca in the shortest amount of time.  Their current plans--always subject to change--now includes a flight to Hanford, CT where they may then enjoy a four hour van ride to Ithaca.

We wish them well.

From Far and Wide They Head to Columbia

June 24th, 2010

The weather was cool, breezy and overcast but their spirits were high as our six ILC ambassadors prepared to depart for Columbia University. 

Michael Whittemore and Jamie Pines will study in Intense Seminars in Modern Chemistry while Michelle Saechao, Beulah Agbabiaka, Yueming Wang and Winston Long will study American Presidential Power at Home and Abroad: From George Washington to Barack Obama.

Guiding them through their studies will be their chaperone Ms. Terri Ishmael.

While in the area our Columbian cohorts will also be visiting other selective colleges and universities such as Penn, Vassar, Yale and Bard.

Once our team has soaked up all there is to learn they will be returning to the Bay Area on July 17th where they will prepare to share their newfound wealth of knowledge with students, parents and instructors throughout the community.

A Mother's Perspective

Melissa Arciniega

Now that Matt is beginning to pack up and head for Columbia University, I often find myself reflecting on the past eighteen years. There are so very many incredible memories in this young man's life already and I'm feeling very blessed and thankful for the person Matt has become and the direction his life is taking.

The Ivy League Connection has played a huge role in sending Matt in the direction of Columbia University. His two weeks at Yale last summer gave him the chance to prove to himself and others that he, indeed, can compete among some of the best and the brightest students in the world! 
Often times, students from the WCCUSD are afraid to dream big or don't know how big, big can be. Because of you, Ms. Kronenberg, Mr. Gosney, and the many individuals who run and fund the Ivy League Connection, Matt is about to attend a world-class university in preparation for a career in public policy and politics.
From a very special place in my heart, I thank you and the ILC for showing these kids how big dreams can be.  The world WILL be changed because of your mark on their lives!

A Father's Perspective

Felix Pelayo
The Ivy League Connection has greatly benefited my daughter, Cristina Pelayo. Before her trip to the East Coast, I only knew about various universities throughout California, and I only thought that was where she would apply. Sending her off to Columbia University, she experienced a setting different from public universities on the West Coast. While she was in Columbia, one weekend she visited the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. I had never heard of the school, and when she told me her impression of it, I myself realized that I didn't know about this great institution with so many different class choices in smaller classroom settings. When she came back from New York, I was surprised to see that she applied to more private universities than public universities, and four of them were out of state. I encouraged her to apply wherever she wanted because I knew it would ultimately be her choice to choose where to go.

When Spring rolled around and acceptance decisions came out, I was kind of surprised to hear that she got accepted into most of the places she applied. She couldn't make a choice but she narrowed it down to two choices, the University of Pennsylvania and UC Berkeley. The Ivy League Connection was nice enough to fly us out to Philadelphia for a preview weekend to get a final impression of the school, and I think that is what sealed the deal. Cristina submitted her intent to register to Penn, and I knew I ultimately had to support her. Even though it is far away, being far from home will allow her to grow up and experience new things.

Without the Ivy League Connection making her visit other colleges and helping her with applications and financial aid, she would not have found the school she will be attending in the fall. The Ivy League Connection is really about connecting. Sometimes students and parents like myself aren't aware of the many opportunities that are available for them. The ILC has gotten many more students talking about different universities outside of California, and it's important to let them know they have choices. I'm grateful for the ILC because it has helped my daughter attend her dream school she didn't know existed before.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Bulldog Pursuits

This fall, our daughter Yohanna is set to embark on a rigorous collegiate “bulldog” pursuit in gothic spires at Yale.

There’s absolutely no doubt that the ILC paved the way. It came to fruition because she did her part as an enthusiastic WCCUSD student since kindergarten, but her ILC Yale experience in her junior year stoked her will and intellectual curiosity to brave new and challenging frontiers. A good education is the most important gift children can have as they take the steps into adulthood. Needless to say, parents are the natural advocates for children to attain that. Luckily, our district has the ILC that nurtures and supports motivated students’ educational aspirations. The ILC consists of the benevolence of the esteemed sponsors, support of the WCCUSD staff and the unceasing labors of Charles Ramsey, Madeline Kronenberg and Don Gosney.
 Stationary Engineers Local 39 Scholarship Awards Dinner
The ILC participants are fortunate students put to the test and awarded full ride summer courses to experience academic rigor, and as a result aspire an Ivy League education to be with the best and the brightest. The required activities (often scrumptious), accouterments, and experiences teach them ethics in the professional world and in being mindful that no one makes it on his/her own. They carry with them the pride and hopes of their family and community.

The ILC opens excellent academic opportunities for eager students, such as to be on equal footing with the more affluent communities in vying for spots at prestigious universities. With the ILC creating a college landscape is such a blessing to our school district. Encouraging students in our high schools to be the best they can be, will send ripples of successes. If allowed to flourish, those ripples become waves which powerfully help to transform and build a brighter future for the community.

We are in awe that from our little known community, our daughter will be a smidgen part of something big and special as Yale. Thank you to everyone involved in her journey and for your confidence in her. We are forever grateful for the amazing opportunity.

Our heartfelt wishes for the continued success of ILC,

Eric and Youra Pepa

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

From Brown University

From Kiana Ward
El Cerrito High School '09
Brown University
Women and Leadership '08

After a year in college I've realized that I have unknowingly begun to make the transition into adulthood. It's scary and hard but also liberating. I have learned a lot this year and although the academics were part of that, the most valuable lessons were ones I learned simply because I am now IN college. Things like networking, handling school fees, and arranging travel plans were frustrating at times but invaluable for the future.

The transition from high school to college classes was drastic... especially at Brown where there are no GE requirements. It was odd to be in a class and know that the only reason I was there was because I had chosen to be. There was no one to complain to when I was struggling with calculus problem sets because I knew that I had brought it on myself. If I didn't go to class, the professors didn't care but I knew that I was wasting my own money. I had to learn a new type of self-motivation, the kind where if I wasn't working my hardest, the only person I was letting down was myself. There were no teachers or parents to watch over me. So I powered through economics and the plus-que-parfait form of the French subjunctive and realized that when you study that hard...when you learn simply because you want to and you are interested in the subject... you can actually learn a language. You can actually see tangible improvement. There were times when, as I was studying for a final or reading a textbook, I swore that I could actually feel my brain growing.

I, like Jennifer, was extremely intimidated by the intellect and drive of the student body on my campus. Everyone I spoke to had done something amazing or seemed like an absolute genius. After awhile however, I began to realize that I could keep up with these students. Yes, I may have had to work harder than my roommate who was writing 20 page research papers in high school, but I was raising my hand in lectures and actually answering correctly. I would talk to people and say, "I have absolutely no idea how I got in here" and almost always got the response, "me either!" It became apparent that everyone was in the same boat: no one really understood how they got in and everyone had their doubts about their own intelligence, but everyone was ready to make the most of it.

I finished my year feeling the need to have done more. College is all about new experiences and there are so many options to choose from, it can get overwhelming at times. I kept telling myself that I just needed to get adjusted to college life before I would be able to handle a job AND extracurriculars. The fact was that, although classes were very challenging, it is those sort of things that expose you to campus life the most and, in my opinion, allow you to get the most out of your college experience. So my advice is, do too much first and then decide what works best for you.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Freshman Year at Stanford University - Jennifer Kuang

As I sit here in my living room typing, I am still quite in awe that I have finished a year of college. It is truly unbelievable, and I can honestly say that this year has been the best year of my life. That is not to say that I did not experience any challenging times or hardships, but I feel that in all, my freshman year has been very positive and exhilarating and I have learned a lot and grown as a person.

In the beginning, I admit that I was very unsure and apprehensive about Stanford. It is after all one of the most prestigious colleges in the world, and I wondered if I would be able to keep up. In my first couple of months there, I definitely had a sort of culture shock. Students at Stanford are very different from students at El Cerrito. Everyone here had a work ethic, everyone was very focused and intelligent and they knew what they wanted out of Stanford and where they were going in life. Almost everyone I talked to knew what they wanted to major in, or at least had some sort of plan, whereas I was just winging it, my "plan" to figure it out as I went along. The people and the rigorous environment of Stanford made me realize that my concentration and work ethic from high school just aren't going to cut it here, that getting accepted, which seemed like a big deal at the time, was only the first step. I still have a lot more work to do if I want to survive through the next few years and come to possess the self-confidence in academics like my peers do.

More specifically with academics, I used my freshman year to explore my interests. Within three short quarters, I have taken classes from various fields, such as psychology, environmental science, archaeology, race and ethnicity, and much more. I can't say whether taking all these classes has helped me narrow down my interests toward a possible major, or made it even more confusing to decide, but I know I'll figure it out eventually. Apart from that, I really enjoyed my classes, although again I felt very incompetent compared to my peers during discussion seminars. I felt that they were all able to contribute so eloquently and used such substantial vocabulary while speaking that it was hard for me to keep up. However, what I always had to remind myself was that Stanford wasn't paying for my education in order to let me sit like a lump and not make the most of my education. I think that was a very important thing to think about in terms of academics at Stanford. You have to make the most out of every opportunity, whether that is in classes and learning to not be self-conscious about your intelligence and asking questions, or social life and stepping outside your comfort zone and talking to people you would not otherwise talk to. Something else that I learned at Stanford that is very crucial is that you have to be very proactive if you want something. It was very hard for me to come to terms with the fact that everyone at Stanford is good at something, and they are not just good, but also exponentially better than YOU. So if you want to do something, such as get elected to a government position or apply to be a part of some program, you have to put your all into that application. Doing things halfway gets you nowhere at Stanford, because you can bet that there are plenty of other people more capable than you who are fighting harder and better than you for that same spot.

Although the academic part of Stanford was downright intimidating at times, I had a lot of support from the friends I made here, and this is where the amazing aspect of an all-freshman dorm comes in. Living in an all-frosh dorm was exciting and the best part of my freshman year. It's great because everyone else is going through the same thing you are, transitioning from high school to college life, figuring out classes and getting to know Stanford. We have such a tight bond within our dorm, and I feel that we have really become a family that we can fall back on in the years to come.

I feel that my freshman year has been very successful. In addition to the amazing academics, I also spontaneously decided to walk on to the crew team, and it's been a lot of fun, despite the fact that I spent a majority of freshman year waking up before sunrise for practice. Because of crew, I had the opportunity to travel to other schools, such as Harvard and Princeton, to race, and I also obtained a lot of free gear, which is definitely a plus. I am also proud to say that I am a part of the team that won the national championship this year! That's right, look it up: Stanford Lightweight Women 2010 National Champions! Sorry, I had to. Apparently, it was a big upset.

Anyway, for me, freshman year seems to have been more like camp than school. Actually, I often like to say that it has been like an extended, year-long version of SEAD! Yes, the academics were hard, but the life experiences and the friendships I garnered are immeasurable. I absolutely cannot wait for sophomore year, where new and exciting things are awaiting. Not only will I be continuing crew for as long as I possibly can (before the realization that waking up at 5 AM is abnormal hits), but I have also been selected to serve as the Professional Development chair for Stanford Rotaract, as well as the Public Relations intern for DreamCatchers, a tutoring program for East Palo Alto middle school students. My freshman year has been a great foundation on which to build the rest of my Stanford career, and I, like Susan Rice said at Stanford's commencement just this past Monday, do feel that Stanford really is the best university on the face of the earth!

I thank you for reading, and I am especially grateful to everyone who has helped me to get to this point - my parents, family and friends, and especially the SEAD Program and Jay Davis, the ILC and all of its supporters, and of course, Ms. Kronenberg and Mr. Ramsey. You have all been there to witness my growth from a freshman in high school to a freshman at Stanford University!

Jennifer Kuang
Stanford University Class of 2013
El Cerrito High School Class of 2009
SEAD Class of 2008

Brown-1 Skips Town in a Hurry

Braving the dark of night and the early morning chill our six Ivy League Connection students (more commonly referred to as “Brown-1”) headed off to Providence, Rhode Island to begin their classes at Brown University.

Stephanie Chan and Andrew Gabriel will study International Financial Markets and Investments while Austin Long, Megan Robb, William Chong and Zijun Tang will study Techniques in DNA-Based Biotechnology.

Along with their chaperone Ms. Yolanda Bulls, the Brown-1 cohorts gathered at Pinole Valley High School, said their farewells to family members and boarded their shuttle at 5:15 this morning. 

Our six students have a full agenda on their plate visiting numerous other college sites over the next few days before beginning their studies.  Stay tuned to the Brown blog site [ http://2010-ilc-at-brown.blogspot.com/ ] over the next three weeks to read of the adventures of our team members while back east.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

First Year

The following was offered to us from Theresa Berger--a 2009 graduate of Pinole Valley High School and an ILC cohort in 2008 attending Professor Kramnick’s Freedom & Justice course at Cornell.  Theresa is just completing her first year of studies at George Washington University.

To my fellow ILC students, supporters, Ms. Kronenberg and Mr. Ramsey,

I just finished my first year as a student at George Washington University and my first year living as a respectable young adult in a new world. In the course of just nine short months, I managed to grow what feels at least three years older and essentially plan the next several years of my life. To all of you who just experienced the same thing, I hope you learned just as, if not more than I did and had just as much fun in the process. And to all of you getting ready to begin that chapter, I hope you’re ready for something you’ve never experienced before, hence why I figured I might as well share a bit of my experience and what I learned.

To be completely honest, I hated the first month of school. I had very few friends, missed home, and kept to myself in my room. Attending a well-known private university in the heart of the nation’s capital where a good majority of the students came from private high schools, well-to-do families, and great ambitions was intimidating, lonely, and one of the hardest things I have ever experienced. I didn’t feel smart enough, rich enough, and felt completely out of place. Growing up in the Bay Area where the culture is as diverse, fresh, and exciting as its population and attending a school on the east coast where somewhere around 90% of the student body is white turned out to be a major and unexpected shock. It was humbling to realize how lucky I am to have been able to grow up in the East Bay and attend a public high school as diverse as Pinole Valley, something I learned to become extremely proud of when introducing myself to my peers.

Luckily, however, I soon realized I wasn’t alone in the way I felt about not fitting in. After about a month or so, I decided to get a job and began working as a second grade teacher for an inner-city after school program called “Heads Up.” At around the same time, I began talking to and becoming friends with my coworkers and some of my floormates. While I may not have had the same past as the majority of them, I did have the same present and found that we were all just as nervous, unsure, and confused as the other; we were all freshmen in college, away from home and everything we had ever known. I soon realized that becoming friends with someone wasn’t about finding people who were the “same” as me, but rather it was about learning to bond over our differences and what we could learn from each other. I think it became the most important thing I learned the entire year.

Of course, my social life wasn’t the only thing I was worried about and ended up learning a significant lesson about. One of the main reasons I chose GW was for its academics and the challenges they promised to provide. I would be lying if I said I loved all of my classes, especially the science ones I was forced to take to fulfill my general education requirements and the Biology class that gave the biggest perfectionist in the world the first “C” of her academic career.

Retrospectively, I think it was a good thing and a nice reminder that nobody is perfect and not everything we want and may think we deserve goes as planned.

However, believe me when I say that the amount of material you are exposed to and the individual attention provided by the instructors of a private institution is one of the best things you can ever hope to experience.

My favorite class during my first semester was an upper level Early American Cultural History course I decided to take. I was one of two freshmen in a class of about twenty-five that required close to fifteen hours of reading per week, an intensive amount of writing, and an extremely intimidating discussion section with juniors and seniors in which putting together a coherent sentence was a struggle. Nonetheless, I tried my hardest and learned to not care about what everyone else thought. I loved the material, barely slept, and went to my professor’s office hours almost every week.

Eventually, my hard work and dedication paid off when I got the highest grade in the class. That class inspired me to take a few other American Studies courses, all of which I was one of a few freshmen, and all of which became my absolute favorites. As a result, I am now a declared American Studies major with a concentration in Cultural Studies and Global Connections, and, coupled with my amazing experiences as a Heads Up tutor and a member of the ILC, would like to go into education policy when I graduate.

I finished my first year of college in a position many only dream of being in, with a declared major and a goal to work towards. I was only rewarded as such, however, because I was willing to explore, work hard, and challenge myself, actions I promise will provide you with the best experience possible so long as you give them your all.

I could go on and on about what I learned and about some of my favorite experiences, but I think the above two do well serving as the highlights of my freshman year. Although scary at first, one of the best parts about going to a new school is meeting new people and being able to learn not just about them, but also about you in the process. Embracing difference and developing self-confidence are what help make you as an individual as well as some of the best friends you could ever hope to find. Similarly, taking risks and embracing the most strenuous of academic challenges also build tremendous character and provide rewarding lessons of their own.

College is all about you and what you make of it. And a little selfishness can definitely go a long way.

Theresa Berger
Cornell University Summer College c/o 2008
Pinole Valley High School c/o 2009
George Washington University c/o 2013 

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Penn Alumni Dinner

Sorry this is a bit late, but last Thursday was the University of Pennsylvania alumni dinner. I had a wonderful time. The food was delicious and the company, even better.

I had a chance to talk to four Penn alumni. The first was Myra, who graduated from the Wharton School of Business in 2008. She answered any questions I had, and told me her favorite year was when she went to Singapore for a semester to study abroad. I hope to be able to do that when I go to Penn. I also learned she stayed at Hill House her freshman year, which is my first choice for my freshman dorm. She said she had an awesome time and made some great friends.

Next, I met Mr. Phil Schlein who graduated more years back, but nonetheless was one of the main highlights of the night. He told some hilarious and inspiring anecdotes about his life during and after Penn. He gives me hope that I'll be able to do great things after I graduate.

Ms. Beth Topor from the Northern California Penn Alumni association was also there, and her speech just told me that Penn was definitely the best place for me to be.

I also met Joanne, an international student from the Philippines who graduated in 2008. Ms. Kahn, the principal of Pinole Valley High School, and Ms. Kaplan, the assistant principal attended in support of me.

I just want to thank Mr. Ramsey, Ms. Kronenberg, Mr. Gosney, and all the sponsors for giving the opportunity to visit Penn twice and arranging this memorable dinner. My dad and I enjoyed it a lot, and it further convinced me that I have so many people supporting me to go to a wonderful school. I hope this year's students like their visit to Penn as much I did last year.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

My Decision

After much thought, I have decided to register at the University of Pennsylvania. Penn was amazing when I visited. While I liked all the schools I visited, including Occidental College and UC Berkeley, one student's comment from Penn stuck to me.

While attending the Penn Preview Day, a freshman was in a similar situation as I am in. She was from California and said that although she wanted to stay in the UC system with her friends, she was glad that she decided to go to Penn. When she talked to her friends at UCs, they said it was just a "continuation of high school," with large classes and professors never knowing their names. I didn't want my college experience to be full of lectures and papers; I want experience.

Penn is a big urban campus, which I like, but classes are small and intimate, which is what I want. The students there are amazing; they're friendly and intelligent, and it seemed like they could not say anything bad about Penn, even if they tried to.

I'm going to be a Quaker, and I'm happy with my decision.

Northwestern University: Pictures!

Here are some pictures from last week's adventure. I didn't take as many pictures this time around:

O'Hare International Airport. I thought the lights were cool.

The lakeside, with Chicago in the background. Beautiful view.

A few of the many rocks that are painted near the lake. I found this to be pretty unique.

McCormick Auditorium.

The ever-changing Rock... with a message apparently made by a conservative. Boo.

Lastly, Deering Library.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Northwestern University: Wildcat Days!

Good evening, everyone!

I suppose I will also begin my entry with an introduction. My name is Stephanie Ny, and I am a senior at Hercules High School. Last summer, the Ivy League Connection sponsored my two-week stay at Yale University for the Yale Ivy Scholars Program.

Without the Ivy League Connection, I would not be where I am today: Evanston, Illinois, visiting one of the nation's top universities (and my personal favorite!), Northwestern University. I arrived here Sunday afternoon for today's Wildcat Days event for prospective students.

For those who don't know me very well, I applied to Northwestern University under the ED option and was accepted in mid-December. However, financial circumstances almost prevented me from attending the school. With the help of Mr. Ramsey and an admissions officer at the college--Aaron Zdawczyk--I was given more aid and can now attend my dream college (although I will have to take out some loans... but it's genuinely worth it)! Mr. Ramsey and the ILC graciously offered to send my mother and me back to Evanston to visit NU for Wildcat Days... and now I am here, in Evanston, staying at the Best Western hotel. My mother and I appreciate the offer; we would like to thank each and every ILC member and supporter for allowing us to come.

In the early morning, my mother and I headed out to Norris University Center, the main facility used for Wildcat Days. I registered myself and was given a lanyard with a name card, a beautiful purple folder with "NORTHWESTERN" in silver lettering, and a Northwestern t-shirt. Given these simple entities, I already knew my day was going to be fantastic.

We entered the Louis Room, where continental breakfast was served and all Wildcat Days participants congregated. Fifteen minutes upon my arrival, prospective students were divided into several groups--one for each undergraduate college--for information sessions. I, of course, went to the WCAS session, as I will be attending that school in the fall.

We were led into the Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, where we were met with a large, purple, congratulatory banner that read, "Congratulations Class of 2014!" (I think that's what it said). Three or so deans spoke about the school, emphasizing the intimacy level of the school through not just smaller classes, but freshman advisers. Freshman advisers meet with their students two or three times a week because they teach their clients' freshman seminars. These create bonds that last pretty much throughout students' entire undergraduate experiences. Additionally, freshman seminars are capped at about 15 or 16 students, compared to the normal 20-25 students, once again indicating intimacy and just overall GREATNESS! This school is amazing.

After the deans, five current NU students recounted their decision-making experiences and explained why they chose Northwestern. I noticed in them what I noticed in every other student I encountered or heard from: they love being at Northwestern. That pleases me to no end: knowing I will be attending Northwestern with others who actually want to be there.

Next, my mother bought me another Northwestern hoodie! Hooray. Then we went back to Louis Room for complimentary lunch. I met a prospective student named John, who lives near Evanston. He, like myself, also applied to Northwestern with an undeclared major. He told me he really loves Northwestern because it's beautiful, has great academics, and has a great sense of community. Of course, I couldn't and cannot agree more!

My mother and I took a walk along the windy, spectacular lakefront before attending the "Living on Campus" presentation at the McCormick Auditorium. There, I learned more about residential college life and roommates. There are 11 residential colleges on campus, each with their own theme (i.e. communications, business, etc.). These are designed to have students with common interests--though not necessarily common majors--live under the same roof. Those who live in residential colleges establish and build relationships with the students in their building, sometimes having weekly firesides or luncheons with their fellow residential college mates. This, again, stresses the level of closeness NU students share with each other.

Afterward, I had an hour break on my schedule, so I headed over to the undergraduate admissions office to visit Mr. Zdawczyk and personally thank him for what he'd done for me. Unfortunately, he was not there (he was out of office and working with financial aid-related things for Wildcat Days, I think), so I left a message for him at the front desk.

My mother and I headed back to Norris to see various student organizations on campus. The marching band came in and played some music; they were brilliant! I stood on the sidelines watching and listening to them. They sounded perfect! I browsed the aisles of groups and associations and took interest in a few of them. I spoke with some enthusiastic students and gave them my name and e-mail address so their organizations could contact me again.

I closed my day with NU Revue, a show put on by student groups of the campus. There were three a capella groups, a tap dancing group, a music video, and a short video. The host, whose name I have forgotten, was absolutely hilarious and lively--yet another reason I love Northwestern. My favorite performance was by an a capella group called Treble Makers. They sang AND incorporated dancing into Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance." That was definitely the highlight of the evening.

Overall, this trip reminded me about how much I love Northwestern. Everything I learned today only added to my infatuation with the school; I know it is the right school for me. The only thing I have to worry about is surviving the brutal, seemingly endless winter! I'm so excited to be attending this fall, and I have the members, sponsors, and supporters of ILC, and Mr. Zdawczyk, to thank.

Thank you for reading! Oh, and I'll be sure to post some pictures when I return!

Stephanie Ny

Syracuse University


My name is Stacy Chan, a 2009 Ivy League Connection alumnus who traveled to Ithaca, NY last summer to attend the Hotel Management Program at Cornell University.

Since then, I have a lot on my plate, since college decision letters have all been mailed out. I only have a week to decide which school I want to be my alma mater, and I must admit, this is, by far, the most difficult decision I have ever made in my academic career and my life, in general. As of now, I have narrowed my choices down to two: Syracuse University and University of California, Berkeley.

What I appreciate most about ILC is its effort to provide the sufficient resources to me, even after I have completed my summer excursion. Thanks to Mr. Ramsey, Ms. Kronenberg, Mr. Gosney, Ms. Kim and others, I was able to travel to Syracuse with my dad over the weekend to take a glimpse of the college life and the Syracuse experience.

Coincidentally, there was a Spring Reception on Friday (the last one that Syracuse was holding); it was perfect, since I did not have to make any extra accommodations with the admission officers or make any other arrangements. It was all right there for me.

My day started out by going to the Goldstein Auditorium, where all admitted students and families gathered for a warm welcome. The Dean of Admissions spoke to the crowd and soon thereafter, everyone dispersed into different directions, based on which school they wanted to see. Since my main focus was journalism, I jumped right to the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.

After walking to the building, Dean Lorraine Branham was standing on the podium, awaiting all the admitted students. She was ready to announce her opening remarks and of course, congratulate the class of 2014. After the speech, students and families separated and went into discussion groups based on the admitted student's interest. Some of the different majors included Advertising, Public Relations, Television-Radio-Film, Magazine, and even undeclared, for those who are still unsure of which path to pursue. For me, it was easy, since I knew Newspaper and Online Journalism was one of my definite goals.

Along with my dad, I headed to the appropriate classroom with a bunch of other students, led by Christen, a current student who double majors, one of which is in Magazine, and has a minor as well. Professor Steve Davis was on hand to answer any questions and to provide a glimpse of the journalism life at Newhouse. He told his personal experience and informed us that he had to travel to several places throughout his life to stay involved in the media realm. For example, he took some career offers and were also dropped from some. In addition, Christen was able to provide a better portrait to admitted students. She noted that although there was a huge database of graduates to reach out to, the students--the majority of the time--had to find time on their own for internships or any other work experience. Both the professor and the current students' experiences put journalism into perspective for me--it is not a field in which opportunities will be handed to you nor are they easily accessible.

Later on, the professor told the class that all Syracuse students are required to have a major and a minor. Students, however, are unable to pursue both studies at the same school. Therefore, despite my passion for both Newspaper and Online Journalism and Magazine Writing and my interest in Broadcast and Digital Journalism and Public Relations, I can only choose one field. Coming to Syracuse, I had no idea that this was the case. The professor did mention that all Newhouse students will have the same foundation, as they will all go back to the basics. I have always perceived the Newhouse school as a place where I can thrive and tap into all the different subfields within journalism. Thus, personally, I felt uneasy when I found out that I would be limited to learning the ins and the outs of only one particular field. Moreover, having learning about the requirement of having a major/minor, the concept of a dual degree, all of a sudden, did not seem as foreign or stand out unusually to me.

After this session, my dad and I split off. He was with the other parents and sat in on the Dean's presentation, while I, like other students, went to another room where current Syracuse students held a brief Q&A session.

Afterwards, all parents and students gathered under one roof (the stadium dome) for lunch. Encircling the dining tables were booths where students and some representatives acted as patrons for their clubs/programs.

To conclude my day, I decided to go on the dorm tour, and I was fascinated by the camaraderie that existed. The representative gave us a tour of co-ed floor, and I must say, of all the schools I had visited, the dorms there were the nicest. In addition, we took a brief tour of the facilities offered to students as well as the dining hall.

Overall, the trip to Syracuse prompted me to think about my future more closely, including my academic and career goals and whether I would like to pursue graduate school undoubtedly. In addition, it made me question what I look for in a classroom setting, think deeper about my preferences in terms of learning new concepts and material, and essentially, pay attention to the characteristics I possess as a scholar and what works for me.

Lastly, wherever I end up, I know for a fact that it is up to me to make the best of my education ultimately. With the existing help and support from the ILC family and Ms. Kim, I am reassured that the school I end up choosing will certainly be the best fit for me. Again, I want to thank all the ILC members for their continuous support.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Haverford and Penn Pictures

Haverford's Founder's Hall

Haverford's Library

Waiting for a tour of one of Haverford's dorms

Inside Penn's Irvine Auditorium

Eating at Penn's Hill Dining Hall

Outside of Hill at Penn

Monday, April 19, 2010

University of Pennsylvania

Today, I attended the University of Pennsylvania's Penn Preview Day. My dad took a drive through the highways anticipating traffic, and we were glad that we left the hotel early. We got to see more of Philadelphia, especially University City.

Unlike Haverford, Penn was in the middle of the city. After taking a short walk from the parking garage, we arrived at Irvine Auditorium. Then, we checked in and waited for 9:00 until we could file into the auditorium. At the auditorium, the Dean of Admission and Provost congratulated everyone. After the lovely greeting, parents and students were split up. While my dad attended "Becoming a Penn Parent" and a financial aid talk, I attended "Being a Penn Student" and got to meet my potential Penn classmates.

At "Being a Penn Student," a panel of students answering any and all academic and social questions that anyone had. The only things current students wanted to change was the one-ply toilet paper, and having too many things to do and not having enough time. After, we were split up into small groups, where we were taken to an area at Penn, asking our group leader more questions that we had. We also introduced ourselves, with many in my group coming from Massachusetts and some as far as South Korea.

After, everyone regrouped with their parents. I met my dad at Irvine Auditorium to hear more about the college I applied to, the College of Arts and Sciences. We listened to a panel of students and faculty members. I came away with the feeling that students really get to know their professors, and that there are classes that fit every interest every student has.

Then, we were split into smaller groups for lunch. My dad and I ate at Hill Dining Hall. The food had great selection and was delicious. After lunch, we split up into groups once again to take a tour of the dorms. We saw dorms at three buildings that house freshmen: Hill, King's Court, and the Quad. The rooms were not as cramped as I anticipated.

After our tour, we were free to roam around campus, so my dad and I went to visit Dr. June Chu at the Pan-Asian American Community House. She talked about Penn and offered me some things to think about if I were to attend Penn.

I talked with some current students at the Center and asked them "Why Penn?". Their answers were about the same as the students in the panels. They wanted a place that was both urban and enclosed, but more importantly had a sense of community.

Penn has a college campus feel in the sixth biggest city in the United States. If I do decide to attend Penn, I know that I'll be able to interact with some of the most talented and intelligent people in the world and also learn any subject of my choosing.

I would also like to apologize for my lack of pictures; I forgot to bring the cable to hook the camera to my laptop, so I will post pictures of Haverford and Penn when I get back home.