Tuesday, January 22, 2013

From ILC Alum Guadalupe Morales

My third semester at Brown, I will admit, was not the best. I will sugarcoat anything that happened, because, what would be the point? The intention of these reflections are to give the future college students a taste of college life, the good and the bad. Not every semester is going to the best, but they are certainly not going to be worst either.

This semester started off with high expectations and high motivations. I was ready, fresh off from summer vacation to continue to do my best. And it started off mostly well. I had a routine set, I was doing homework every day and even reading ahead for one of my classes. However, as the semester progressed, things were not going very well. I was feeling lost and not smart, to be honest. My grades were coming up short though I felt I was studying even more than the previous semesters and I was feeling I wasn't sure what to do. Especially as a pre-med student, I was feeling like I would not be able to get to were I wanted to be.

In terms of social life on campus, it was not like freshman year. During the first year of college, It's common to have a big group of friends to do everything with. However, the dynamics of these friendships change during the second year. People start to break off into smaller groups, and often times you find yourself wondering what went wrong. However, I later realized there is nothing wrong with it; it's a natural thing to develop closer bonds to some more than others. But for a while, I felt like everything about Brown was falling apart for me. I started to grow very homesick and I was anxious to fly back home.

On a bit of a side note as well, I ended up being struck by a car right as finals were commencing, which did nothing to elevate my motivation for exams. I ended up going to the ER that day. Fortunately, I was not injured much at all. On impact, I lost consciousness for  a few seconds and then I got up and someone called an ambulance for me to get checked out. I had a lot of back soreness for a few days and I had trouble sleeping for a few weeks but I did not have any broken bones or cuts  or anything of the sort, minus a couple of scratches and bruises. I felt very lucky about that. And it honestly made me feel more worse about everything.

There was a point where I was seriously considering transferring to a local college back home for the next year. This is not to say I don't appreciate everything Brown has to offer me. I really do but I just started to doubt myself. Now, don't take me wrong, if I were to actually transfer back home, I don't think it would be a bad thing--something to feel guilty over. But I asked myself: was I willing to throw everything out the window? I have amazing financial aid, I have great student resources, I have so much I wasn't genuinely appreciating in front of me. I remembered I long ago envisioned myself walking across the stage on the Main Green, accepting my diploma from Brown University. I envisioned myself seeing my parents in the audience, smiling from ear to ear at how happy they were to see me there. I envisioned myself being so proud that despite poverty, violence and the environment I grew up in, I was able to get there to be the first in my family to graduate from college.

From that point on, I realized that I needed to stop doubting my abilities and who I was. I had a bad semester, yes, and I'm not proud of it, but I'm still proud of myself . Did I grow from it? Yes, of course. Did I realize where some things went wrong and where I made bad choices? Yes, I did. Did I appreciative what went right? That too. I learned to still be proud of myself, despite of what the results of last semester.

I'm not proud of my grades this semester, I'll admit. I felt that as a sophomore I should have been able to do better than last year but unfortunately, this is not the case. However, I know that I will do better. I'm still happy about where I am in life today. I have learned to appreciative the little things and the opportunities given to me. There's no where to go but up. I will use it as a learning experience. I also have to remember that I am not alone. I have my friends and family rooting for me back home. If they never lost hope in me, then why should I?

As a last piece of advice for the current members of the ILC, I ask you to believe in yourself. There may be times where you feel like nothing is going right, when you feel like you don't belong. But trust me: things will get better. It is a blessing to be where I am. College is an amazing thing and you don't even have to be at Brown to know that. Being in any college, public or private, small or big, is an incredible accomplishment and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Your experiences in college will be your own but many struggles remain the same. As my parents and close friends always tell me: stay true to yourself, continue being passionate and keep chasing after your dreams because you'll get there one day and you'll be happy you did.

Sending lots of love and hope from Providence,
Guadalupe Morales
Brown University | Class of 2015

Monday, January 21, 2013

Brown/Yale Mentoring: Hands on Gourmet

The Ivy League Connection has partnered with the Brown and Yale Alumni Associations here in the Bay Area to form a mentoring partnership.  With the close associations between our ILCers and alums from these partner schools the application and admissions process for our students is enhanced.  With what they learn from these mentors, even when they apply elsewhere, is valuable information from dedicated and successful alums who know what they're talking about.

Last Saturday this mentoring group met in San Francisco for a Hands on Gourmet event.  We were broken up into four groups with each devoted to a specific part of the meal.
When you look at these tantalizing items on this menu you can't help but feel the hunger pains we all felt.  It was great to have everyone working so hard to put together such a fine meal.

While ti would be easy to sit here and salivate over these fine menu choices, let me give you all a hint that, for all intents and purposes, these were just appetizers to keep us going until the Gateaux Au Chocolate was served at the end of the meal.  For the record, I was on the team that created that fine dessert.

Rather than go on and on about how my team saved the day, take a look at these photos of our mentoring team.

From ILC Alum Taylor Doty

Current and Future Ivy Leaguers,

Checking in from Durham, North Carolina here at the number one ranked basketball school in the nation. First off let me apologize for my very tardy response. I know that I hate hearing excuses but for those of you who are sympathetic I hope you will understand when I say that over break I was enjoying being home for the first time in four months as well as sleeping for more than six hours for the first time in four months. Secondly I hope you can understand that coming back to school for second semester has been wild and crazy and also did not lend itself to a response. But my excuse aside here is what my experience at Duke has been like and how the ILC helped me out.

First off, college is way different than high school. Your mom and dad are not around to tell you when it is time to go to bed, nor are they there to tell you that you can't go out on a school night. (Also they are not there to do your laundry which thankfully I learned how to do while being and ILCer.) In college it is your responsibility to manage your time and get everything done. Managing homework, soccer, and friends has been a challenge for me. However, I learned during my time with the ILC at Cornell University that if I get things done earlier I will have more free time to do the things I want to do. I have tried my best to use that strategy here at Duke, but real college is more stressful and demand a little more from you that summer college. My advice here would be to practice managing your time efficiently with the once course you take over the summer but keep in mind somewhere that in college you will have the work load of that one course times four. 

College is also not the same as high school. The quality of work that is expected from you is higher and everyone you go to school with is just as smart if not smarter than you. I felt a little insecure at first because a lot of students came from private high school and had taken courses that weren't offered at El Cerrito High. Many of them talk of how challenging their schools had been and how many AP's they had passed. Let me be the first to say to you that no matter how many AP's you took nor the course offering at your high school compared to another you were accepted for a reason and thus deserve to be at that school. I struggled a lot with feeling like I fit in academically first semester but now starting my second semester I am more confident in myself academically. So my advice to you all is to remember that you were accepted into whatever school you end up in for a reason because they thought you were smart and capable enough and ultimately you deserve to be at that school. 

Aside from the amount of work and having to manage time some of you will be traveling far away from home like myself. Being in a new place with a zillion new people can be over whelming and scary. It also lends itself to cold spreading. I was sick for the majority of my first semester at Duke. Not having my mom to take care of me was rough but definitely helped me grow up. So word from the wise you will most likely get sick during your first year in college so start talking to your parents now as to how to get and what to take to make you better. 

All in all Duke as been an amazing experience for me. I have grown so much as an individual. I would not have felt as prepared without my pervious experience at Cornell through the ILC. The ILC previewed college for me and allowed me to prepared for some of the things college throws at you like time management and laundry. 

Sorry for my late response,
Taylor Doty
Duke University '16

Sunday, January 20, 2013

From ILC Alum Lucero Perez

Well to begin, I am currently in the winter quarter of my sophomore year. This quarter appears to be much easier than my fall quarter. My fall quarter did not go well academically, but I learned from my experience. I allowed personal family matters to affect me academically, which drastically dropped my GPA. I started off my sophomore year with a 3.3 cumulative GPA. It was not the best GPA but I was pretty satisfied with it. I planned on improving it, but as I previously mentioned I got distracted and my GPA dropped to a 2.8 cumulative. I am not proud of my performance since I will have to take a class over in the spring quarter, which holds me back on getting certain upper division courses. However, I do not see this as the end of the world. I actually learned from this experience. This quarter will be different. I am seeking help from my professor more often and I currently go to drop-in tutoring for certain courses that I need help in. I am doing my best to raise my GPA to a 3.0 this upcoming quarter. Even though it may difficult to do so, I am very confident.

Although I preformed my worst academically last quarter, that was not the case in other aspects. I am currently the Co-President of Corporate Relations of the Latino Business Student Association on campus. I was able to organize a couple of events with my peers and it was a success. I have been able to network my way to great companies such as Ernst and Young, Google, Cisco, PwC, etc. I was able to learn a lot about what I need to do to improve so I can make myself more attractive to companies such as these. I now have an idea of what they are looking for which really pushes me to continue challenging myself to become more competitive.

Aside from academics and extra-curricular, I have come to realize the importance of keeping an organized agenda. Last quarter, I did not write down everything that I had to do throughout the day, which I feel really affected fall quarter’s outcome. 

This quarter is different. I am more organized and I feel more in control of my day. I am changing my priorities but most importantly I am drawing a line between personal matters and academic responsibilities. I realized that my mistake was focusing on my family’s problems too much. It really caused stress and a huge distraction in my life. At one point I really wished that I had gone farther away from home, so I could escape my family’s expectation to go home every other weekend. Santa Clara University is only an hour in a half away from Richmond. Even though I am not that close, I still feel pressured to return to help my family back home. One very important lesson that I learned was to communicate my feelings. I needed to let go of all the problems going on back home and focus. I have come to realize that worrying does not help solve anything; it only makes things worse. So, I would really advise future ILC students to try to focus on their education while they’re at school and realize that the problems happening back home sometimes can’t be solved.

At one point in my fall quarter, I really wanted to drop out of college. I felt like I could no longer afford the education I was being offered and I began to question if it really was worth it. I realized that I could easily get a job and make money to help my family out, but then after speaking with one of my close friends and advisors I realized that dropping out of college was not the best option. I have to hang in there because it will be worth it in the future. I realized that I would be able to get a higher paying job after college, but most importantly I would be educated. I want to be able to learn more things everyday and being in college is one of the best ways to do so (although it is not the only way).

Overall, I am not proud of my fall quarter but I am proud of the person that I am today. During the winter break, I made sure to get myself back together and come into my spring break very determined and ready to do my best. So far, things are going well. I hope to have a better story for next quarter. I am shooting for a 3.0 cumulative.

Until then,
Lucero Perez
Santa Clara University
Class of 2015

From ILC Alum Adriana Ramirez

Hello Fellow ILC students,

Here are my thoughts on how to succeed in college:

All Colleges are not the same—I can only give my personal experiences in how to succeed in a big University.

I am currently a fourth year (senior) at UCLA. I love UCLA, and feel it was the best school I could choose for myself. I initially wanted to attend a small school but I'm glad I'm attending a huge school like UCLA. Sometimes it might be frustrating that my classes are huge with over 200 students but I've become used to it.

Going to a large university pushes you to become independent very fast, something that I like. There are no parents around to tell you what to do, when to do it, and how, you are on your own. This can be awesome for some and detrimental for others, if you are attending a big university or hoping to you have to be aware that the best way to succeed in such school you have to be self-motivated and have some type of self-structure. There is tons of freedom and at the same time you have to be responsible of your deadlines, papers, midterms and finals. The best way to keep myself organized is as simple as having an agenda (it's an essential).

Another essential for succeeding at UCLA is surrounding yourself with people you have in common with, such as study groups, and people who might have similar backgrounds as yours to not feel homesick. At UCLA I have met other people who have similar goals to mine, I've met these people in extracurricular groups/clubs and I've came to create great bonds with some of these people.

A third essential at succeeding in college I believe is keeping yourself busy, if you have free time don't waste it, find a small job or an internship, these open doors, serve as recommendations, or let you explore different careers.

overall, do what's best for you and look out for you. And NEVER be scared to ask questions or ask for help because there are others who are always willing to help you.

If anyone has any questions you can email me at:
adrianaram2119@yahoo.com or text me 510-367-8285

From ILC Alum Austin Long


My name is Austin Long. I am a Pinole Valley High School graduate, and I'm currently a sophomore at Yale University, prospectively majoring in Chemistry! 

I'd first like to apologize to Mr. Ramsey for my extremely long delay in sending this. Being home for the holidays and spending time with family and friends has a habit of making me absentminded, and I'm sorry for my forgetfulness. Thanks to the ILC and the WCCUSD School Board, your work keeps our students competitive in higher education and in the workforce, and you often don't receive enough credit for all that you do for us, so thank you!

Contrary to popular belief, college is cool! Especially here at Yale University. Yale is an amazing place. I know everyone says this about their own college, but Yale truly is a paragon of education. We have unparalleled faculty, resources, classes, and opportunities.

Last semester I took four classes, Chinese (Level 5), Introductory Physics, Multivariable Calculus, and a class on Science and Public Policy. I had a relatively light course load because I had to focus on finishing a couple prerequisites for my upper level chemistry classes next year. Of all my classes, the class I enjoyed the most was my Science and Public Policy class, not just because of the content, but because we had a large number of renowned professors and experts in their fields come to our class to share their experiences and knowledge with us!

Like in high school, I really enjoy extracurricular activities, so I've been trying to be as involved as possible here at Yale. In the clubs I spend most of my time at, I am treasurer of the Yale Undergraduate Aerospace Association, Co-Chair of the Asian American Student Association's Political Action and Education Committee, and the External Relations Director of the Yale Global China Connections Chapter. In addition, I also work at a local high school as a Public School Intern, where I help tutor students and link the school with Yale resources. By doing so many activities, I feel that I've really broadened my skill set, and I'm learning to multitask better and more efficiently.

I think the best thing about college though is the immense wealth of opportunities that it provides you with. Last summer I was able to study Mandarin in Beijing, China entirely on Yale's dime, and next week I will be able to attend the 2013 Presidential Inauguration of President Barack Obama because of Yale. 

This next semester, I'm taking quite a few more courses than last semester, because I'm working attempting a double major of Chemistry and Political Science, but the feasibility of that remains to be seen. 

Good luck to all the high school seniors as you go through college interviews and to all the others as you apply for ILC! I wish you all the best, and I hope that if you have any questions at all, feel free to contact me at austin.long@yale.edu!

Happy New Years!

Best wishes,

Austin Long

(510) 260-7730

Saturday, January 19, 2013

From ILC Alum Cynthia Fong

Hey everybody!

It's been two and a half years since I've graduated and it's very difficult to put into words the transformation that has happened. Since freshmen year, I've been challenged to all types of limits (socially, academically, emotionally, etc.). But this past semester, I would say, has been the most rewarding.

The first 4 semesters of college, I took it upon myself to "get the most" out of my education. Please don't get me wrong: DO get the most out of your education! But I was going about it the wrong way, substituting quality for quantity. I was overcommitted in extracurriculars, overcommitted in school and trying to have something of a social life at the same time.

This past semester, I took a lighter course load and I cut back on the extracurriculars. This semester was about learning how to find a good balance, learning how to rest, and learning to love learning. I was running on ambition instead of passion, but this semester, I realized that I do love learning and I do love contributing to some academic field.

I've officially declared a double concentration (or major) and I am rethinking a premed track. Public health and ethnic studies go hand in hand with my interests in structural determinants of health inequalities, specifically internationally. This semester, I took three classes: Survey Methods in Healthcare Research, Global Burden of Disease,  and Introduction to Ethnic Studies. I made a real connection with one of the public health professors and we're going to be working on some research together. I'm also researching grad school and fellowships.

It's been an amazing semester and I'm ready to get back into the grind. Though my course load will be back to normal, I'll be taking the lessons I've learned into this semester. I'm looking forward to the learning and the new experiences! If anybody is interested in anything at Brown University, or would just like to chat about colleges, please feel free to reach out!

Cynthia Fong
Class of 2014

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

From ILC Alum Cristina Pelayo

I’m back in Philadelphia to start the spring semester of my junior year. It still sounds strange to say I’m a junior, soon to be senior, after this semester.

This past fall semester passed by quite quickly. I took five classes this semester, but I decided to stack most of them. I wanted to be efficient with my time, and it was great, but sometimes I found myself getting too much information in class and not paying attention during the classes toward the end. The only upside was that I did have one day completely free to finish up readings or other homework. Unfortunately when midterm season came, I usually had two or three around the same time, which was not fun. Although I felt like I would have done better if I only had one at a time, I did improve my study habits by studying a lot earlier for them than was what I was used to.

This past semester, I decided to take a seminar to fulfill the research requirement for my history major. Past classes usually gave me a topic or time period that I had to write a paper on, but this time, my professor was really open to anything. It was really interesting to not have to form arguments, but rather explore different ones that I encountered in my research and compile them. I enjoyed having this project to work on throughout the semester, and my professor was incredibly encouraging and helpful, as it was my first time writing such a long paper, as well as researching in Spanish. I loved the research aspect of the course, although when it came time to write the final paper, it was hard to put into several pages what I’d discovered. Luckily (and this rarely happens) the day before the paper was due, my professor gave us a week-long extension, but unfortunately this would mean that I would have to work on the paper while I was home and everyone else was enjoying their vacations. I definitely wish I’d worked harder and sooner on it, but overall everything somehow turned out okay.

If anyone has any questions about Penn or college in general, feel free to email me! Thanks!