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.