Monday, August 27, 2012

From the Parents of Tanya Krishnakumar


Ever since Tanya got into High School, she has been talking about Ivy League Connection (ILC) program.  Fortunately, her good friends were prior ILC participants, who turned out to be great ambassadors for ILC. They instilled the aspiration in Tanya to participate in the ILC program.

She had prepared herself very well for the rigorous selection process.  We remember the day of interview in March; we were nervously waiting outside El Cerrito High School and as every student was coming out, we thought that Tanya’s probability of acceptance increased.  At one point, we could not bear the suspense anymore, so we approached a parent who had just walked out of the school and asked if they saw Tanya.  She mentioned that the only people inside were the finalists which meant that Tanya made the cut and we could not hold our excitement. 

Tanya walked out with three other students, her cohort for the “Grand Strategies” program in Yale.  Our joy knew no bounds; we shared this news immediately with all of our friends and family. 

The events that took place after the selection process were all coordinated impeccably due to the energetic and thorough ILC coordinators Mr. Gosney, Mr. Ramsey and Ms. Kronenberg.  They had an action plan for every step of the program from selection through the actual travel and the summer course.  Don Gosney conducted the initial tutorial session giving us, the parents and the students a walkthrough of the program and a list of things that they would need to survive the travel and the stay in the dorms.  On May 17, we enjoyed an exceptional dinner in RN74, an elegant restaurant in downtown San Francisco amongst the Yale alumni and the ILC sponsors.  Both Tanya and I had great conversations with our tablemates during the dinner and learned a lot about the curriculum and the student life in Yale. Tanya walked out even more excited about going to New Haven, CT and started counting down the days.  I, as the parent, was convinced that this would be the best summer of her life. 

Before we knew, the travel date to Yale arrived on July 22, 2012.  We woke up at 1:30 AM to drop Tanya off at El Cerrito High School.  Here was another opportunity to witness Don’s exemplary organizational skills.  He had the talking points ready to prep not only the cohort traveling but also the parents who were left behind.  He handed us the contact information of all the travelers and the itinerary to keep us informed at all times of the travelers’ whereabouts. 
During the next week, we received a call every evening from Tanya, giving us the report of her day filled with excitement from visiting the campuses to the exclusive dinners with the administrators and/or alumni.  She also shared her experience through the blogs, which provided the visual treats to the reader.  They (the cohort) had travelled to numerous campuses including Georgetown, University of Pennsylvania, Columbia, and Wesleyan to name a few.  The calls diminished as they went to Yale explaining the rigorous schedule of the course.  During one of the few calls that she made, Tanya mentioned about the Marshall Brief and the measures that they took to prepare for it as a group.  It sounded both exciting and exhausting based on the number of hours that they put in for the preparation and presentation.  We heard many good things about the exposure that the kids got through this process.

We could not wait to see Tanya on August 12.  However, we were disappointed to hear that her flight was cancelled and that she could not get back to San Francisco until the next afternoon.  When they finally arrived at SFO, the cohorts were visibly fatigued but glad to be back at home. 

Tanya came back with a positive outlook about the “outside world”, away from her comfort zone (both home and school).  She managed to handle everything independently and bravely.  She is confident about her public speaking skills, which was the biggest achievement from the course.  She learned a lot about the Yale culture, administration, campus and the life in New Haven.  She met some amazing people from around the globe and bonded with few of them.

At the end of the day, this was all possible only because of the Ivy League Connection and we need to thank the organization profusely for giving Tanya this once in a lifetime opportunity to preview the college atmosphere prior to her actual admission to college.  She is now well equipped to be a proud ambassador of the ILC and is looking forward to recruit future candidates for the program. 

At home front, she seems to be more matured and determined to get an admission in one of the Ivy League Colleges, which previously seemed out of reach to us.

Bharathi Iver and Kris Ramamurti

From the Parents of Alysa Butler


We would classify the entire process as SIMPLY AMAZING.

I am the Father of Alysa Butler and I was reflecting on how this amazing opportunity began. I believe it was in the month of December, 2011 as we were all beginning our day. Alysa, mentioned that she would be attending an informational assembly to be held on campus given by the ILC Alysa, always has been very active on campus participating in different clubs and study groups—many of which I was familiar with but I had not heard of the Ivy League Connection. I asked, “What is the Ivy League Connection?” She said, “I will tell you later.”

When she returned home that evening. She was excited and told us that the Ivy League Connection is a group formed by the WCCUSD that selects students to tour some of the colleges on the East Coast and participate in a Summer Educational Program. The ILC is planning to send two people and depart on June 25th, 2012 and return on July 28th, 2012. I thought, WOW!, it must be expensive. Some of the colleges that they were planning to visit were Yale, Washington University (in St. Louis), Cornell, UPENN and others. The lucky few would get to experience living in a dorm room.

We encouraged her to submit an application and participate in the process. Part of the process was a meet and greet between the ILC and Parents. We had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Charles Ramsey, Mrs. Madeline Kronenberg and Mr. Don Gosney at the meeting. Each ILC staff person gave an overview of their role in the program and assured each parent that their child would be safe. The dorms were staffed with security 24 hrs a day whose responsibility was to monitor the premises for the safety or the residents. All ILC participants would receive three meals per day and have supervision by a chaperone. This information eased the apprehension and eased the stress.

There had been a series of interviews of Alysa's instructors at school and recommendations and finally through the process of elimination there were eight students selected as finalists. However, only two lucky people would be able to represent the school at the Academy of Physics at UPENN. Alysa came home one day and said, we have to be at El Cerrito High School at 5 PM.  She announced that she had made it to the final interview. She seemed very calm but I was nervous enough for both of us.
We ate a little dinner and hurried off to the final interview. Upon our arrival as we searched for the room we were becoming anxious because we did not want to be late for the interview but some of the doors were locked. Finally we located the room. We were not the last to arrive. Then a familiar face, Don Gosney, he was brought refreshments and let us know that the interviewing staff was running a few minutes late. Don informed us of the process to be followed. He informed us that we would draw numbers from a cup to establish a numerical order for interviews.

Alysa drew number five. The interviews began number one, two, three, with each interview lasting longer than the first. Then number four which I though would never end. Finally, number five. I offered a few words of encouragement to Alysa and told her how much I love her and to do her best. I was a nervous wreck. Alysa, though, seemed very calm throughout the entire process. I began to realize that she was confident, that she would do well.

She returned after what seemed like an eternity. I asked how did you do? She said OK but did not want to talk about the process because there were still three prospective people to interview in the room. After all interviews were complete we all took a 10 minute break. After the break all participants and their parents were asked to go across the hall to the interview room We all met the interviewers which consisted of some professors, community business people and teachers

After all the introductions were complete they announced the two final people to become part of the Ivy League Connection. SIMPLY AMAZING! Alysa Butler was named as one of the two people selected. I was overjoyed for her. As we drove home I became more and more excited for her. Slowly I began to realize she had never been gone from home for such a long period of time nor had she been so far away.

The next meeting was with Don Gosney. There were consent forms to sign and packets of information that needed to be faxed to UPENN (that was the school Alysa was selected to attend). She would become part of the advanced Physics Academy. WOW! SIMPLY AMAZING.

We managed to get all the paperwork done and returned in a timely manner. We had a final meeting and met the Chaperone Mr. Ian Lawrence. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr. Ramsey, Mrs. Kronenberg, Mr. Gosney and Mr. Lawrence for the care and concern given to my daughter throughout the entire process, THANK YOU

On the Morning of 06/25/12 at approx 3:30 AM they were off to catch their flight at San Francisco Airport to Philadelphia, PA. Throughout the next month I was in contact with my daughter regularly. I was never concerned about her safety and welfare because I was confident that the Ivy League Connection would watch over her. She met many diverse groups of people and got the opportunity to interact with them academically and socially. She experienced riding the trains of New York City and has been to some places that will enrich her personally.
THANK YOU,
Denise & Kerry Butler

From the Mother of Abigail Serrano


Hello, I'm Hilda Serrano, Abigail's mother and through this blog I want to thank God for the staff that makes up the ILC, and for giving her the opportunity to participate in one of the most effective programs for the women in mental, physical and spiritual.

Women and Leadership has been a great support to me as a mother because my daughter overcame in many wrong beliefs and also learned to appreciate and see life from another point of view. The importance of preparation for anyone who yearns for a better future is based on their own confidence, faith in one’s self and hard work to reach goals. I believe with all my heart that the one who has the privilege to be part of this program, also will have the power to build his future successfully.

There are no words to express our gratitude that the ILC left to us as parents. Moreover I also take the opportunity to thank all those who contributed with money, time, effort, knowledge, patience and love for each of these young people whom are involved with ILC because without them wouldn't be possible the change that is now reflected in our teens.

Nevertheless, my daughter has in mind the great commitment that means giving or be a part of a social movement, with the responsibility and privilege of transmitting and work hard for others giving testimony of what she learned in this program. As a mother, I have the compromise of cultivate in my daughter the heritage in knowledge, the moral and love that she will leave to the new generations.

Thanks again,
Miguel & Hilda Serrano

Friday, August 24, 2012

From Cameron Fulton’s Aunt


The Ivy League Connection was very valuable for Cameron in so many ways. It has taught him that perseverance pays off with a feeling of great accomplishment. His uncle and I believe that he now realizes that it is so easy to give up on a goal or a dream. There are no regrets however, when you know that you have done all you know to do to reach your destination and it comes to reality. It has given Cameron a sense of pride and growth in so many areas. He is learning accountability and responsibility to a higher level. Being involved with the ILC has stirred some self motivation in him to manage his time more effectively, developing skills needed to succeed in life.

Before the ILC, Cameron had expressed that he did not want to leave California for college. Now he is very open to venture out. He enjoyed meeting students from other countries as well as other states. He learned time management with getting to class on time, understanding that the ritual he goes through with getting dressed for the day does not need to take so long. I laughed at his blog where he said, “I learned how to get to class from my bed in 30 minutes.”

His experiences with the different outings were unforgettable. The restaurants, the different types of food he was exposed to and the willingness to try them shows growth. Cameron, like myself, had issues with trying anything new, especially if it looks different from what we are used to (e.g. pig face). Now he is more adventuresome in that area.

His dorm life, and meeting new people was such a great experience for him that he now is willing to go out of state to school. He is very interested in Northwestern University, as it has everything that interests him. They have mechanical engineering, D1 sports as he plays baseball, and they have a great music department. He plays saxophone and loves jazz. He will be applying to UPenn, and NYU as well just to name a few of his choices.

We would like to sincerely thank Charles Ramsey, Madeline Kronenberg, and Don Gosney for this great opportunity for Cameron. It has given him the belief that he too can succeed in the environment of an Ivy League University, and this experience will last him a lifetime.

Thank you again, ILC
Karen Bolden

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

From the Mother of Aurea Riboroso


First of all, I would like to thank you all for your time, sacrifice and efforts to make this summer program successful.

I was shocked when my daughter told me that she was going to Columbia University. It was so hard because it was her first time being apart from her family for so long. But, she explained to me that it was a great opportunity for her. I didn’t want to be a hindrance to her dreams.

Finally she got my approval but I was still worried about her. When she left, I constantly checked the ILC website to see her blogs: I was so amazed by all her adventures explained in her blogs. It gave me a peace of mind to know she was doing well.

I’m so proud of her. Her growth in maturity and responsibility is astounding. I am very thankful for all the people part of the Ivy League Connection. This is a tremendous program that molds the students for a brighter future.

I also want to thank Mrs. Cheryl Lilhanand for a great job. I know it was a big responsibility to take care of youths for about a month in such big city. I’m grateful that my daughter was part of the ILC.

Mrs. Carmelita Villa

From the mother of Romina Pelaez


My husband and I are thankful for the opportunity that the Ivy League Connection has given to our daughter, Romina, to be a part of its program—this program that sends qualified students to different prestigious universities and colleges to take up a short course over the summer. We were very happy and proud of her when we first learned about the good news that she was accepted to the ILC. The process that she went through to get into the program was challenging—defending her point of view on a not-so-easy topic through essay writing, experiencing the intense panel interview, and applying to the actual college—already gave her the opportunity to learn how it is like in college and in the real world after college.

The fancy dinner at Boulevard a couple of weeks prior to the trip to the East Coast was also a wonderful experience for Romina where she got to meet and interact with other Ivy Leaguers and sponsors. I can only imagine the wonderful events she's attended back east.

We had mixed emotions about it; happy for Romina because it was an opportunity of a lifetime for her, but at the same time sad because of the 3-week separation from each other. It was very hard for us to let her go because that was the first time that Romina would be away from our family for 3 weeks, considering the distance and fear of not being there with her in case she needed us. Nonetheless, her eagerness and enthusiasm to learn things outside of her usual high school environment changed our mind.

Aside from the academic understanding of the Women and Leadership course, her short stay at Brown University has taught her a lot of things: how to mingle with people from different walks of life, how to handle challenging situations in or outside the campus, how to budget her finances, and most especially independence from us. When she returned from Brown, there was some type of energy I saw in her—some type of drive to pursue her dreams and achieve her goals. The overall ILC experience made Romina a mature and better person, a blessing that she will cherish for the rest of her life.

As a parent, it's difficult to see your child slowly separate from you. Letting Romina go miles away from us at her age was not easy, but now it's definitely safe to say that it was all worth it.

-Dinah Pelaez, mom

[Fotos removed at the request of Romina]

From the Mother of David Barba


I first heard about the Ivy League Connection when David came home one day from school and just started talking about it. I was amazed that there was a program like the Ivy League Connection right in our school district, helping our students go beyond their full capabilities. I had my doubts of the program being a full scholarship because it was an Ivy League program, but David took me straight to the ILC website to prove. I have always wanted my children to have a better life than me: to explore the world, to have no worries, and be happy. The only way for them to reach this was by education, so I pushed David to go for the program.

After our conversation about the ILC, I knew it in my heart he would get accepted because he stopped doing his regular activities during the winter break and was focused on the program. His face was so focused on getting in, that when I finally heard that he had made the interview, I was glad to see him smiling again. The interview process was really nerve racking having to wait for everyone to go up, and then an extra hour for the final decisions. While we waited, I can remember him being ready to jump out of his chair, thinking that he was not going to be accepted. I remained hopeful and told him that he still had a chance because he gives himself high standards, and from personal experience as being his mother, he almost always does very well. As the results were being announced, he was surprised to have been accepted. The night ended with excitement for the whole family.
As the months passed, along with each of the events, I could see David’s excitement towards the program. I was a bit nervous myself as a mother, because he has never been away from home for more than a one or two days. The physics program was a month, which made me worry once he was there. After talking with him for the first week, his voice sounded very excited and I could tell by the blogs that he was having lots of fun, which helped take away my worries.

The ILC has opened the world to David, which he was able to do because he always worked hard in school. My family would like to thank Mr. Ramsey, Don Gosney, and Ms. Kronenberg for giving David this wonderful opportunity and for their dedication to help the students of our community to go beyond California. I would also like to thank Ian Lawrence, his chaperone, for the excellent care of the students. David seems more ambitious than ever now, because the Ivy League Connection has shown him hard work does pay off. Once again, thank you to everyone from the Ivy League Connection.

Silvia Barba

From the Mother of Mariko Whitenack


I would first like to express appreciation for the extraordinary opportunities the ILC program provides WCCUSD students.  When Mariko first heard of the ILC program two years ago, I was impressed that a program of such vision and scope existed in the WCCUSD.  As a graduate of El Cerrito High School many years ago, I was one of many classmates who applied only to the University of California Berkeley and did not even consider applying to any universities outside of California.  The entire ILC process requires that students demonstrate maturity and personal responsibility, including time management and interpersonal skills.  The ILC application requires that applicants develop thoughtful written and verbal responses to challenging questions. The ILC dinners expose students to alumni from select schools who describe their experiences of undergraduate, postgraduate, and career choices. Through helping to develop the U Penn group blog site and arrange for college tour dinners, Mariko was required to deal with the challenging responsibility of meeting deadlines and arranging logistics.  The college tours and the mentorship programs allow the students to interact with admissions officers, current students, and alumni; to become familiar with expectations of the application and selection process; and to hear individual insights into the academic, cultural, and social environments of specific colleges.

I was excited when Mariko applied to and was accepted to the ILC program in experimental physics at the University of Pennsylvania.  Experimental physics seemed like an ideal subject for Mariko to apply the enthusiasm for math that she had gained from many exceptional math classes at ECHS to a field with so many real life applications.  Mariko’s experience attending the 4-week experimental physics course was phenomenal.  The curriculum, faculty, and lab facility were exceptional. The course enabled her to get a sense of the level of academic preparation and dedication experienced at selective universities.  The rigorous course provided Mariko an opportunity to process the strengths and challenges of her WCCUSD education.  She also experienced the gender composition of her class, which reflected that of a field marked by one of the lowest representations of women in the sciences. While she reported initial challenges, she emerged with an increased sense of confidence as well as perspective as to which sorts of colleges might provide the academic, physical, and social environment with the best fit. The visits to Washington University in St. Louis, the University of Chicago, and Northwestern University enabled Mariko to consider opportunities in regions of the country she had never experienced. 

I appreciate the dedication and efforts of Charles, Don, and Madeline in developing, coordinating, and sustaining the ILC program for WCCUSD.  Many thanks also to Ian for taking excellent care of the U Penn group of students.  I hope that the returning ILC students take the opportunity to share with their fellow students their experiences of the opportunities that selective colleges offer, the academic rigor required, and intellectual rewards gained.  Mariko is extremely fortunate to have benefited from the life-changing experience the ILC has afforded her.  The WCCUSD ILC program serves as a model that many other school districts could seek to emulate to provide such invaluable experiences to their students.

Catherine Chin

Monday, August 20, 2012

From the Parents of Molly Radosevich

First of all, our sincere thank you to the Ivy League Connection for providing a fabulous opportunity for our daughter, Molly. Molly attended a summer session at Brown University where she participated in a two week seminar on Women & Leadership. The course work, social interactions, and exposure to east coast culture will be of benefit to her for a long time to come.

Looking back on the experience, the Ivy League Connection is a very generous program. The academic exposure at Brown was excellent. In addition, the opportunity to visit a number of other schools on the east coast including Wellesley, Dartmouth, Brandeis and Harvard was huge. Molly is very interested in music and during her trip she was able to meet with and play for one of the piano instructors at Wellesley. Another door opened.

Also worth noting is that the ILC is not simply generous, it is rigorous. The application process included both written and oral segments which were challenging. Getting through these was not so easy, and the experience will stand all the participants in good stead in the future. The attention required to meet deadlines, timelines, and be on time is a necessary skill that will contribute to success in the future for Molly and her entire cohort.

No review of this summer could be complete without acknowledging the many individuals connected with the ILC that we had the opportunity to meet. What a stellar group of people! It is amazing they can pull this off year in and year out. And in particular we (and Molly) thank Jackie Timmes, Katherine Williams and Ms. Kaplan who watched over the cohort on their trip.

The ILC has opened many doors for Molly, and the connections she has made through the program will undoubtedly make a real difference for her as she navigates the waters ahead. We are grateful she was able to participate in what turned out to be a truly great experience for her.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Words of Wisdom from Yueming Wang


Hi fellow ILCers,

My name is Yueming Wang and I am a sophomore at Cornell University where I’m studying engineering. As of now, I plan on majoring in Operations Research, possibly minoring in Computer Science while staying on track for Medical School. For those that read my reflections from last December, I’m still unable to decide what career I would like to pursue after graduation. I know I’ve always been the type of person who liked to plan ahead of time so having absolutely no plans for life after college is extremely unnerving. I learned that having no set plans for post-college life is not only acceptable, but is also normal. And this is the first piece of advice I’d like to impart to you: Do not be afraid of not knowing. You’re not expected to have everything figured out yet so do not shy away from asking for help or simply give yourself more time!

One of the reasons I’ve been a bit indecisive is that I’ve simply had too much fun in most of my classes. While I enjoyed math (the ultimate factor why I chose engineering), I had no interest in physics in high school. Last semester, I took a mandatory introductory physics course for engineering students which ended up being my favorite course all semester. I actually looked forward to going to class to learn new concepts and watch my professor’s demonstrations. What I learned from this experience is that I should be open to the idea of taking some classes in different subject areas, even if I didn’t enjoy them in high school. This is my second piece of advice: Explore as much as you can and be open-minded!

One comment from my friend Stephany Ny that I’d like to emphasize is to really take advantage of this ILC experience. Having participated in the ILC program at Cornell University the summer before my junior year was the sole reason I decided to apply to the school during my senior year. Although I like to believe that I would have been just as happy with my college experience at any other school, I am so glad that I’m at Cornell right now. Not only do I have wonderfully engaging professors, a variety of student resources, and what seems to be limitless opportunities to have new experiences, I’ve also been able to reap some benefits of being a Cornell student off-campus. This summer, I worked as a branch manager for Revolution Prep’s Ivy Insiders program. Not only did I teach SAT courses and tutor students, I’ve been able to advertise in the community, coordinate public events, communicate extensively with customers, following up on leads, and pretty much learn the ins and outs of being a successful entrepreneur. Being a student at Cornell was one of the main reasons why Revolution Prep decided to even consider me for the position. In short, please take full advantage of the wonderful opportunities offered by the ILC for your experience can be the beginning of something even more amazing.

As always, feel free to contact me if you have any questions. Best of luck ILCers, and I hope to see some of you at Cornell! Cheers to the start of another wonderful school year!

Sincerely,
Yueming Wang
College of Engineering Class of 2015
Cornell University

From the Father of Clara Lengacher


I wanted to share my perspectives about my daughter, Clara Lengacher’s experience at the ILC Experimental Physics Discovery at UPenn this summer.

To start, I feel that this program is creative, forward thinking and exactly the type of program that we should be seeing more of in the educational community. Partnerships with institutions of higher learning are vital to the articulation, matriculation and improved success of our students. The combination of social skills, networking, and the high quality of the educational experiences should be accessible to all and I feel this program opens doors for our young people to make connections, experience social interaction in a way that they might not be accustomed to, and pursue a specific subject of interest to them.

From my experience at the kick off dinner and discussions with various alumni of UPenn and major donors to ILC, I was encouraged about the state of education in our community and heartened to know that it extends across the country.

I Skyped with my daughter every week and was updated on the amazing things they were doing in class, the people she met within the program and during visits to the other schools besides UPenn, and about the new folks she met in her Physics program, not just from all over the United States, but the World.

My only constructive criticism of the entire process is that perhaps the interactions between the ILC staff and the students, in public forums, could be administered in a more respectful fashion. I witnessed an interaction at the dinner at La Folie that I felt was somewhat degrading and embarrassing to the individual. I realize the importance of developing their social skills in a short amount of time, but wonder if this could be done in a more mindful and respectful manner. I don’t think there is any benefit in dressing down a young person if front of their peers or adults that they may or may not know.

Thank you for your vision, time and energy in thinking outside the box, creating valuable opportunities for the students of this district, and for changing the lives of those individuals fortunate enough to participate.

Bruce Lengacher

Saturday, August 18, 2012

From the Parents of Emily Cain


What a Gift
When our daughter, Emily Cain, told us about her interest in applying to the Ivy League Connection, we were in full support.  We knew very little about the program but what we had heard was impressive. She worked diligently on her essays and got herself ready for the interview. When Emily told us that she had been accepted to the Women & Leadership Program at Brown University, we were thrilled at the unique opportunity that we knew awaited her.

The weeks prior to the trip gave us further insights into the program and the hard working individuals that make this program so special.  The informal potluck at ECHS was a great way to meet the other girls going on the trip and the wonderful chaperones. Chaperones, Sewellyn Kaplan, Jackie Timmes and Kat Williams really put everyone at ease with their relaxed presentation and open demeanors. The lovely dinner at Boulevard was a great opportunity to meet and speak with Brown alumni, a few of the sponsors and Charles Ramsey. Attending the School Board meeting and standing for the photo with all the selected students, program leaders and sponsors was an honor.

Before we knew it Emily was driving off in a shuttle at 3:30 AM, with her cohort, heading for the airport. This was the first time that Emily would be away from our family for three weeks; she was totally ready and excited for the days ahead. In the days and weeks that followed we cherished the blogs. The blogs served not only as a terrific skill for the participants but they provided us as parents with a window into the program and the experiences of the participants. Emily was so busy that we rarely spoke on the phone and her text’s mostly read:  “We are soooo busy. I am having a fantastic time…” The Blogs provided the details.

The Ivy League Connection is truly a unique and fabulous opportunity for students of WCCUSD. We would like to extend a special thank you to Charles Ramsey, Madeline Kronenberg, and Don Gosney for their tireless efforts and to the sponsors for making it all possible.

Emily Cain’s parents :  Tracy Westphal and John Cain

From the Parents of Jobel Vecino


July 2011: As soon as Jobel came back from Cornell’s Hotel Operations Management program, I asked him if he wanted to apply for the Ivy League Connection again. He answered yes and I want to take the Grand Strategy Course. Thinking it is in Yale University which is obviously a hard program, I advised him to think it twice and maybe he can apply for the other programs aside from Yale’s Grand Strategies Course. But he is determined to pursue the Yale program.

March 2012: During the interview night his dad and I were anxiously waiting inside the car. That four hours of wait was such a nerve wracking experience. I remember praying hard and a few times thoughts came in my mind what if he didn’t make it. Maybe enroll him in driving class so he will be busy during summer. A group of students then came out but Jobel didn’t show up. Later on, some adults came out and had informed my husband that Jobel made it. As parents we have experienced the overwhelming happiness that our son’s dream could come true. I could still remember when he hugged his dad in happiness informing him that he got in. How I wish I had taken a picture of that moment!

After reading the materials given to them and packing, the day finally came for him to leave for New Haven. His first week was full of experiences and information since they were able to visit different places and universities. Dinners were very informative with regards to each schools admission requirements and each schools setting. They were able to see how the schools look like. They were given a chance to talk with the current students and admission officers as well as ask questions about the universities. These are the special privileges that the WCCUSD Ivy League Ambassadors can avail from joining the program.

Four days ago, he’s back from Yale equipped with knowledge and more experiences. I can see in him that he was very happy. He said the Grand Strategies Course is the best program for him. Each student in that program worked hard to be in and he was very proud to represent the West Contra Costa Unified School District especially Hercules High School. From the college visits, dinners, meeting people and making friends—these helped him improve his personality.

Together with these experiences and the values and wisdom that he learned from home, I could say we are confident enough that he is ready to embark in his journey for college. It had helped him grow as a person. His desire to continue on what the Ivy League Connection started in him is visible by his willingness to share his experiences to the younger students in his school. He wants to help them to become prepared for what lies ahead for the coming challenges important especially—writing essays and preparing for the upcoming interview.

For the new parents who wants to have their children join this program, we can rest assure that the Ivy League Connection is the best program there is. They are very hands on for the whole duration of the program. It would help your kids experience college life in the east coast without compromising their safety. And you can see once they’re back from their journey positive results will be expected.

In closing, the whole family is very grateful to the WCCUSD’s Ivy League Connection for the experiences that our son went through. These informative and unforgettable experiences will not be possible if Jobel haven’t joined the program. It opened his options to continue his college career in the East Coast.

We would like to extend our thanks and gratitude to Mr. Ramsey, Ms. Kronenberg, Don Gosney and to all the wonderful sponsors. To Mr. Litvin and Ms. Neal and to everyone who our son shared his journey with and to all who made this program possible, YOU all deserve a warm applause!

Respectully, Joselito and Belina Vecino

From the Parents of Narges Sahibzada


I had originally heard about this program from my daughter, Narges. When she first told me about the Ivy League Connection, I must admit that I was rather skeptical of it; it was hard for me to believe that such a program to help our kids and their future endeavors existed. However, by attending the various meetings and dinners I found out about the greatness of this program. I was happy to discover that the group of students that were selected to participate in this program were all very diverse and all from different religions and ethnicities. This entire program is a reflection of how much this district cares for our kids.

Upon talking to Narges after her return, I noticed how much she grew from visiting all the different universities and talking to different students from all parts of the country. She seemed much more certain of her decisions for her future after she came back. My wife and I are very thankful to all those who made this opportunity possible for our daughter.

Mohammad and Nasima Sahibzada

From the Mother of Yessenia Reyna


Hacer Cosas Yo No Pude Hacer; To Do Things I Was Never Able To Do

I remember that cold winter day when my daughter came to me with this incredulous idea. She told me about this program called the Ivy League Connection where they send students to study over at the east coast for the summer. It sounded really nice and all, but I wasn’t too trusting of the whole thing. How could I possibly trust them with my eldest daughter for a whole month? I was about to not let her do this when I realized how great this opportunity could be for my daughter. In the end, I didn’t want to take this amazing opportunity away and stop her from moving forward. Although I was still worried, I agreed to allow my daughter to try and do these things I was never able to do as a teenager. Once she told me she got accepted, my heart filled with so much joy. All the hard work she put in those essays and interview finally paid off and now she would be leaving for an entire month to go to Nashville.

Before she actually left however, the ILC had this plan to let me get more familiar with the people involved, which would help me trust them more. They had several meetings I attended which showed me exactly what would be happening during those 4 weeks. Everyone kindly explained this to me in detail and in a way a worried mother would understand. I also got to meet and talk to my daughter’s chaperone during one of these meetings. At first I was a little surprised to see how many tattoos he had on his arms, but after meeting with him and talking with him several times, I could see that he was the best chaperone possible, and I really wouldn’t have asked for a better one.

Finally, the time came for her departure. Seeing her leave, it really felt as if she was leaving for a year of college. You could say that it prepared me for what is to come in a few years. Overall, this program has made me become more open to letting my daughter leave home. Even though the idea of your first child leaving home scares most mothers like me, I know that this is what life is about. Your child needs to experience life for themselves when they go off to college.

I would like to take the time to thank the Ivy League Connection for all that they have done for my daughter. Thanks to the ILC, I have finally opened my eyes to see the wonderful opportunities that are out there for her and a bunch of other students as well. Even now, it is still hard to imagine a program like this exists for the students of this district. It is absolutely amazing to think of how much work is put into this program and I hope it grows from here.

Thank you,
Dora Reyna