Sunday, July 29, 2012

From the Mother of Nick Shebek

Our son, Nick heads to Brown: Insightful Rising Senior Returns
Junior year at El Cerrito High for Nick seemed to require better family communication skills than prior years; there were school and club sports practices that still required rides; college admission tests to schedule, classes to juggle, and Ivy League Connection deadlines to track. Things seemed to go relatively smoothly; and we were glad when Nick was selected for Brown's macroeconomics course; an area of study which we thought he might find to be a nice combination of practical knowledge and mathematics, located in the heart of New England, where Nick would love to attend college.

My husband and I both grew up on the East Coast, and the opportunity for Nick to become more familiar with the pace, the lifestyle and the humidity should serve him well. The Ivy League Connection deadlines were going by quickly--we had met with the chaperones and cohorts at a casual potluck dinner at the high school; we had carpooled to the blogging training session, we had a moment of anxiety when the School Board meeting might have conflicted with a post season varsity baseball game, but all was on track as we boarded BART for our dinner at Boulevard with Brown alumni, School Board members and ILC sponsors. Nick was going to be speaking that evening; and was very entertaining with his pre-dinner jitters en route to San Francisco. He did well; fit in a Boston Celtics reference and got a smile from many of the guests, and we enjoyed a great dinner. I sat between two recent Brown graduates; both of whom spent some of their professional career with investment houses; my experiences as a commodities trader when they were toddlers both dated me, and provided a bit of a common language.

As I learned about Brown that evening, I saw that it fostered creativity and a strong sense of community. Soon after the dinner there were finals and SAT subject tests; quick double checks of the items needed list, and before we knew it, Nick was on his way.

The college visits had a huge impact; Nick was impressed with Yale, intrigued by Dartmouth, and thought Wesleyan might be a good fit for his younger sister when the time came. The opportunities to mingle with recent alumni and admissions staff further rounded his impressions of the schools. I think it's fair to say that Nick was blown away by MIT; besides its well-earned reputation as a top engineering school, Nick was glad its students were well rounded; that its humanities offerings were stellar as well. Meeting with alumni, Nick enjoyed their sense of humor, and glad to learn that majors weren't declared until sophomore year. On top of all of that, it is in Boston, home of the Celtics and the Red Sox; Nick is descended from a long line of New England sports fans. The one issue is that it is nearly impossible to be accepted, but at this time, Nick wants to apply.

On his return home, he set up his "mymit" account, read through the college materials that had accumulated in his absence, and seemed to be more focused and reflective. Nick enjoyed the macroeconomics course; it made him realize that if doesn't find his passion in engineering, there are other areas that will interest him. The pace of the class was challenging and in retrospect, he realized that Mr. Coleman had covered an enormous amount of material in just over two weeks. At the dinner at Mistral I suspect he already knew this was getting to be the end of a wonderful journey, and he enjoyed interacting with his cohorts as well as Brown II students and the alumni from the local prestigious schools visited by the various Brown groups. There was such a change in our son; he called more frequently than on other trips wanting to share insights he had learned about himself; joke with his sister about blog titles, advising her on the 'errors' of his high school career, encouraging to stretch herself in many directions.

For me, I've realized that there is now a whole new network of folks that I wouldn't have met except for the Ivy League Connection; I've made "linkedin" connections with young traders in the investment arena from Brown; I realized that when I reached out to an attorney in Hercules for a district-wide parcel tax measure initiative that he may have known Terilyn Chen as a mock trial attorney coach. Sure enough he did; Terilyn heads off to Harvard, he shared, a fact that was known to the other parents at the School Board meeting where Terilyn shared her Harvard interview experiences with the new ILC students.

The Ivy League Connection can be about more than opening WCCUSD students' eyes to the opportunities across the country; it can be about making connections locally. Coming from the East Coast thirty years ago, we had been envious of students who could study at the UCs for a fraction of the price. We had looked forward to taking advantage of California's university system for our own children, and frankly hadn't thought much of sending our children to the East Coast before the Ivy League connection reminded us that things change; and that now, WCCUSD students can stand out as talented contributors to a college campus in the Ivy League. I really believe that Nick's experience with the ILC has put him in a position where he will make an informed, intelligent and socially aware decision about where he is most likely to succeed in college.

We are so grateful for the ILC sponsors and team with the vision to keep all doors open for our WCCUSD students.

Thanks again, Karen and Pete Shebek

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