Wednesday, May 20, 2015

ILC Meets the Board, School Board that is!

      Tonight, was a very special night for my cohort and the many other ILCers. It was the night of the school board meeting, it happened to be my first school board meeting too. When I arrived at the meeting I remember seeing the cameras that were broadcasting this event and not being nervous. In an instant my feelings from calm, cool, and collective turned into nervous, eager, and shy. I remember the email Don had sent informing us about being on television, yet in the heat of the moment my nerves began to kick in.

      When the first ILC cohort stepped forward, to be recognized by the board and television I really started to feel nervous. Then, when the second group went up I felt as if you could see the worry all over my face. We were the third group to go and by that time I tried to figure out exactly how I was going to walk, smile, and look less nervous. I was just glad that I didn't have the job of the speaker. I may have done a good job but I would have been exceedingly uneasy. I feel as though my fellow cohort member Rudy Suarez did an amazing job in conveying how we all feel about this milestone in our lives.

      Naturally after, we were all recognized we had to go take a group photo. This time the photo including all of the cohorts, chaperons, and at least one parent. With this picture being taken by Don it had to be perfect. And don't get me wrong I'm not knocking him on perfection I am actually elated that he wants us to have immaculate pictures. I believe the pictures (all 100) came out flawless. Don was not the only one taking many pictures though, it was the many mothers of the ILC too. Collectively they probably took nearly 200 photos. 

        In closing, all I can say is thank you to everyone who helped and is helping us have these vital experiences. Again, I want to thank Don and John, along with all of the sponsors, the donors, and the benefactors for being a major pillar in our futures.  I believe I can speak for everyone when I say we are grateful for our parents who have been supporting and pushing us to reach our goals. I am obliged to have received such a wonderful opportunity. 

The Nerve Wrecking Experience and Acknowledgments

The day started out as any other Wednesday except my day was two times busier than usual. Today marked the end of the USDA workshop I attend on Wednesday at the USDA West Regional Center in Albany, California. At the USDA workshop, students would learn about biological things that they do not learn in school (labs are included too). For instance, we have learned about how scientist genetically modify food and we also genetically modified a stem of a plant. The scientist, who guided me and couple other students from El Cerrito High School and Kennedy High School, called today's event our "graduation" and we got a certificate that was proof that we passed the workshop. As much as I wish that my time there could be longer, I knew that time does not wait for anyone. I had other things to do today and there was no time to reflect back on the past. The biggest event (apart from the dinner) of the Ivy League Connection was today; the school board meeting. 

The last time I went to a school board meeting was when I was about seven or eight years old. I remember people were protesting about either demolishing Fairmount Elementary School or Castro Elementary School should be demolished in order to build the new Portola Middle School (now Korematsu Middle School). I don't remember much about the meeting except for the fact that it was VERY long. I was an audience member of that school board meeting. This time, I am a participant in the school board meeting. 

I was the first one to arrive at Lovonya Dejean Middle School and it was not very hard to spot him because he is very tall. He gave me the flag because I was the first one there. When almost everyone from my cohort was present, Mr. Hillyer gathered us around and informed us about what was going to happen the first five days into the trip. The good news was that we are going to be traveling and eating a lot of good food but the bad news was that we are going to get very minimal amount of sleep because we had to catch our flights. I was a bit unimpressed but I know that it is all going to be worth it. The school board meeting started out with a pledge to the American Flag and we sat at the last row.  

Seeing how different speakers from different cohorts were giving their speech, I realized that everyone had the same desire; to go out and expand their horizons and see how they can take the ideas that they learned from the program and include it into their community. It's amazing how so many people can share the desire and together we can help bring change to ourselves and our community. When the speaker called us up, we walked up to the podium and Mr. Hillyer introduced us one by one. We all held our flag proudly and our speaker, Rudy Suarez, informed the school board members and audience about what we plan on doing and how that is going to affect us as well as our community. Going up there was very nerve wrecking and I don't know how people are able to speak so confidently but they are amazing for representing their group well. The school board members and Don acknowledged the sponsors who came and said over 3 million dollars worth of scholarships was given over the past 10 years. The sponsors and chaperones came up to the front where they were in front of the school board members and the chaperone shook hands with each one of them. This could not have been possible without the sponsors and I am extremely grateful for them.

After every group spoke, it was picture time! Everyone who was a part of the ILC migrated to the gym where we were going to take our group photo. Don instructed everyone about where they should be placed and it probably took 10 minutes for him to get us positioned and take the pictures. Although there is only one and half more month until I go to UPENN, I am not done with the process that Don makes us go through. I still have one more meeting and that is the orientation in June. After that, three more weeks to go and I'm off! Time flies. 

We finally have a group photo! 

Invigorating the Crowd

Tomorrow officially marks the beginning of summer break for me. My school, in particular, starts early August and ends late May so that is why I end school earlier than regular high schools. That being said, I took my last final-Astronomy-at 9AM and when the clock ticked 11AM, I let out a silent scream. Done with finals! I was never so glad to be done with school and rewarding myself with tonight's ILC ceremony at the WCCUSD School Board's meeting. 

A little over 5PM my mother arrived at my school to make enough preparation time for the School Board meeting. Originally my mom was confused about the location of Lovonya DeJean Middle School, but she did her Google Search and she managed to go there by memory and a small printout of the map.Again, moms save the day and you know it! We arrived there at 5:30PM; thirty minutes before the meet-up time. Don had originally advised us to arrive earlier as parking would be limited tonight, but we found a parking space just fine. Maybe it was because we came early. Early bird specials?

Once the meeting commenced, the board members took action and started to cross things off their agenda and tabling other minor events to next meeting so they can make room for the Ivy League Connection. I can dare to say that we are all so thankful for our School Board's continuous support for the ILC and we will not let you down. There are times when the classes get challenging but when we recall all the people supporting us, we will get a boost far more useful than what a Red Bull or Monster drink can do.

Our UPenn cohort went to the front of the multipurpose room right after the Brown cohort. We walked up to the front gracefully yet energetically. Mr. Hillyer introduced us one by one and then Rudy advanced to the podium to give his speech. Rudy was very happy and amused when he stepped up to the podium and expressed his excitement! He had mentioned to the cohort before going up there that he was nervous as tonight held a large audience, but we reassured him to just speak from the heart and all would be good. I believe he expressed his thoughts genuinely and that's all it matters. 

All ILC speakers captivated the crowd by connecting with the audience through their excitement about the upcoming journey to the East Coast with their respective colleges. After all the cohorts proceeded with the introductions, we then had an ILC alum Michelle Croda to give a few words of encouragement to ILCers, future ILCers, students, and other individuals watching this live at home to never give up on your dreams and reach for anything and everything. Her speech made me realize that what you might want to do now is not what you'll might end up doing three years from now. Always, always have a Plan B ready for life. Her acceptances into Princeton, Harvard, Yale, etc was possible because ILC has opened a door for her to reach into. This truly touched me as it did to others and now I view her as my inspirational figure because what she said ignited the "pre-senior status" me as I get ready to apply to college.
My Mom (Ultimate Supporter) and I
Tonight was full of ambitious young minds trying to make a better future for themselves and I am for sure glad to be one of them.
ILCers, Parents, and Sponsors

The School Board Meeting

The School Board Meeting took place earlier this evening at DaJean Middle school. The school board members welcomed us with open arms as we expressed our gratitude. The first person I saw as I walked into the school was Arnold who will be attending Vanderbilt this summer. We were able to briefly catch up as he spoke to me about the dinner he attended last night. After the brief socializing period with all the different cohorts, Mr. Hillyer took us to the side of the room and spoke to us about the details of our trip. I has more than happy to learn that we will be visiting Vanderbilt, Princeton and other prestigious schools prior to the start of our program. We went over how to be efficient especially during the first week of our trip because our mornings are expected to be hectic. After the information session from Mr. Hillyer, we took our seats and witnessed the School Board Meeting commence.

As the different cohorts were introduced to the board members, I proudly cheered for my classmates who are participating in different programs this year. My best friend for over 9 years will be attending Cornell this summer and participating in the Hotel and Management program. I am very proud of her, and this program will help her get to know her business side a lot better. Thao Le Hoang and Justice DeloSantos will also be with Shanti in the Cornell Cohort. It was nice to hear Justice's empowering words on what he plans to bring back to our community from Cornell. All the speakers from each cohort had a unique way of expressing their gratitude to the: sponsors, parents, and school board members. I especially admired Rudy's input on the importance of blogging or as the Penn group likes to say, "reflecting on our experiences."

The speaker whose words stuck with me the most would be Michelle Croda's. She read short excerpts from the exact personal statement that helped her get accepted into Yale. I found it hard to believe that not too long ago, she was in my shoes as part of the Ivy League Connection. She attended the Women in Leadership program at Brown and was happy to state that it helped shape her into the woman she is now. 

It is an amazing feeling to know that I am part of the Ivy League Connections as it enters its tenth year. They have awarded over 300 scholarships and don't plan on stopping anytime soon. This organization is a true benediction to our district and I am eternally grateful to be able to spend another summer on the other side of the country. 

Tests, Presentations, Pictures, and More Pictures

This is officially it. Today marks the first day of summer for me, and I couldn't be happier. Since I attend Middle College, my school follows the college schedule, and today was the last day of our finals week. It was a rather hectic day today, as I had to take two finals back to back, but what made it even crazier was the fact that it was for two of my college classes. The night before, I stayed up studying for these tests, but the sleepless nights I had to endure paid off. Once I took my tests, I felt confident and relieved as the feeling of summer grew stronger. I finished my last final at 1 PM, which was amazing, considering the fact that I usually end school at 5 PM. Once I arrived home, I was thrilled to relax in my bed and take a well-deserved nap. Finals week is always the most stressful time of the school year, but after all of my hard work, I am confident that I ended the semester on a good note. 

When I finally woke up from my glorious nap, I quickly changed into a more formal attire and headed straight to Lovonya DeJean Middle School, where the school board presentation was held. Once I arrived, I greeted familiar faces, and our Penn cohort continued to talk with each other until the presentation actually started. 

During this, I was able to hear about the issues concerning schools around the district, and it opened my eyes to my community. I didn't realize how many problems people had faced regarding schools until I had attended this presentation.

"Smile for the camera!"
When my cohort and I were seated, we were each given certificates from the ILC, which was a very touching in my eyes. Once it was finally time to present something for the ILC, there was a brief introduction, as well as a thank you to all of the sponsors and people that have supported and helped in making the ILC a possibility. I truly am grateful that I was given this opportunity to travel to the East coast and study at UPENN, and I couldn't be happier.

Each cohort had to stand in front of the members of the school board, and a representative would give a brief speech about what they're looking forward to most in the summer. When it was our cohort's turn to go up, we stood there while holding the UPENN banner, and we listened to our representative, Rudy, speak. It was interesting to hear all of the heartfelt speeches given by my fellow peers, and then it hit me. Since it was officially the first day of summer for me, flying to the East coast, which used to seem like it was in the distant future, was finally drawing near. It's still unbelievable to me.

UPENN cohort, and our chaperone, Mr. Hillyer

After all of the groups had presented, all of the ILC participants, as well as our parents, were led into the gym where we took dozens of pictures of everyone. It seemed like the pictures would never end, and my jaw eventually started getting tired after posing for so long, and I ended the night with even more pictures. Nonetheless, it was nice seeing all of the parents and students that came to the school board presentation, because it actually shows that people care about our community. As always, I look forward to the day I actually fly on that plane to Pennsylvania more and more each day. 

Representing Middle College High School 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Kuleto's Takeover

At last the moment I have been exited and anxious about had arrived: Penn’s Dinner at Kuleto’s! 

With an AP test finished the day before I was relaxed and feeling happy now that I was done with all four of my AP tests I took over the past few weeks. I went to school and the day flew by, although it was a busy Thursday full of classwork. After school I hurried home to get ready for the dinner with each passing minute I grew more anxious and exited to have the experience of having dinner with the alumni from Penn. 
Our Chaperon John Hillyer

It was nerve wracking because I couldn't believe how blessed I was to be able to have this experience. My friend Izabel went to Brown’s Women & Leadership program last summer and  had told me a lot of wonderful things about the dinner and the people she met.
 When I got home I took a shower and got really my hands trembled from excitement as I tied my tie and calmed my hair. I haven’t been this excited since my first day at breakthrough I said to myself. As I got ready I got lost in thought and before I knew it was time to leave. It was 4:45 pm and we still had not left because my mother had to talk to my two younger sisters before we left, we were running out of time because we were supposed to meet at 5:10pm and I wanted to be early. I drove to El Cerrito Plaza Bart and we made it on time with 10 minutes to spare once I got there I was so nervous I even forgot the parking was free. Thinking I was the last person to show up I ran to the Bart station and as soon as I saw Don and the others my anxiousness vanished and I was just extremely excited for the dinner. It was my first time meeting our chaperon and I instantly thought to myself awesome! This summer will be perfect!
As soon as everyone got to the Bart station we went on Bart. On our way to Kuleto’s I sat down with Don and we talked about various thing from prom to AP tests. With the conversation I had with Don the time flew by and we were already at Powell Bart station

Powell Bart Station

We walked a slow paced walk due to the ladies having heels on and going up an intermediately steep hill. About four blocks up I hear “Were Here!” and my heart dropped! Many doubts and questions came to mind. What are the Alumni going to talk about? How well is our conversation going to flow? What should I do if everyone is quiet at my table? Can I really do this? We went in and the restaurant was really even swankier than I expected!

We walked in and went to a party room downstairs, the stairs were fancy and it was really cool to walk down. When we got in the room me and my mother met Mr. and Mrs. Rubin. They are both such wonderful kind people. It eased my mind to talk to them and meet them, my mother was happy that Mrs. Rubin spoke Spanish. When all the guest came in we all say on our assigned seats and talked to one another in our tables. Charley was the first alumni to sit down at our table so we introduced ourselves and talked about Penn. He told us that he was in the class of 2012. He talked about his personal life and how him himself got into U Penn by luck. He is the son of immigrants and he was at the top of his class at his high school, and when he got to Penn he went from being at the top to being about about average. I found this to be cool and a little bit scary, he talked about how he went from not knowing much about colleges and applying to most just because they were colleges to finding interest in Penn because of the fact that one of his friends who got accepted to Harvard chose Penn over Harvard.
Me translating what is being said to my Mom
Soon after that Markus arrived, I felt great admiration for the way he carried himself. He was polite, well mannered, quiet but talked a lot and stayed on topic when he was asked a question or was talked to. within 5 minutes after Markus arrived  Mr. Powel arrived. It was a pleasure talking to him! He shared his story about education and about how when he was going through school it was very difficult and he had to be very focused and go out to find and obtain the resources he needed to continue furthering his education. It was very inspirational to be able to meet such a determined person who went through so much and against all odds and through education became successful. 
Penn at Kuleto's Dinner Program
When everyone had arrived and had settled down the wonderful program planned for us took place. With wonderful speeches from  Luis and Jun and the wonderful Ms. Kronenburg giving a warm welcome to all of us and closing remarks. after that we had an amazing dinner. we got to talk to the alumni and it was a wonderful experience and they were full of valuable information that I needed to better prepare myself for college. They covered topics from how a student is really accepted into colleges to how being in a food truck diet would be something very likely for me to do after freshman year, They talked to us about how clubs work and how to start them. They advised us to do research with a partner because that way it would be easier and more fruitful. The time flew by and before we knew it was part 9 pm and the dinner was over, We took a picture with the alumni and said goodbye. 
Then we had a quick meeting with our chaperon to discus the fast approaching summer experience and we talked about how we were going to live for 3 weeks and about how we were going to leave a couple of days before the program began to be able to do a little more college exploring and watch the fireworks. I am more than exited for this summer and I cant wait. I also realize how fast the 3 weeks will fly by and  am ready to face the fun challenge of the experimental physics summer program at Penn.
Lifelong Memory
With everything done we left to bart and to our regular lives as high school students. The next day it felt almost like a dream because the Kuleto's takeover was as amazing and wonderful as a dream.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Let the Fun Begin!

Over the past two weeks, I have been constantly faced with tests such as the state test (SBAC) and the AP tests. The only thing I have been looking forward to these past two weeks was the dinner, everything else didn’t matter. Sure I was happy when I finished my last AP test but it cannot compare to the excitement I had looking forward to the dinner. Everyday I would remind myself and do a little countdown to the day of the dinner and the wait was worth it!

 I came home from school at 3:00 P.M. and did some homework knowing that I will not be able to do it when I get home. My mom came back at 5:00 P.M. it was hard to convince her that we needed to hurry up. It was a mistake on my part because I told her the time which BART would come at and I should have told her an earlier time; we left the house at 5:17 P.M. Luckily by the time we got to the El Cerrito Plaza station we weren’t late. Whoo Hoo! I met up with the other cohorts and we started talking. Our chaperone, John Hillyer, introduced himself and ensured us that we were all going to have a great time at Penn over the summer and that he was going to take us to some places that represented the beginning of America like the Benjamin Franklin Statue and Independence Hall. 

On the BART ride to San Francisco, I sat next to Justeen, who is in the Physics program, and we had a great time talking about some common interest. Everyone in the group got off at Powell St. and walked about three blocks to Kuleto’s. There we went down a special staircase and had our own little room where we waited for the alumni’s and sponsors. Don had assigned seats and everyone sat where their name tag was. I was fortunate enough to sit at the table with my mother, Jun, Jun’s mom, Linda Cohen, and Don. I sat next my mom and Luis Chia, a Penn alum who graduated in 2007. Jun and I started asking him questions about college life and he shared his experiences with us. He gave some really good advice about Penn and how everyone is really productive which caused him to be as productive as they were. 

Some lovely flowers that were present at each table
Ms. Kronenburg started off the night with a welcome speech and invited the students and alums to introduce each other and acknowledged the sponsors, thanking them for contributing to our education. Luis represented the alums and spoke on their behalf, speaking about how much we will learn and the experience that we will have when we are at Penn. Jun represented the students who are going to Penn and did a great job in speaking on our behalf, informing the audience how much we are looking forward to Penn. 

Angus Filet Mignon

Creme Brûlée with a Biscotto
At dinner, I ordered an Angus Filet Mignon with Horseradish mash potatoes and some string beans. I have never had a meal like this before and so amazing that words cannot describe it. I ate the meal slowly so that I could savor the meal. After the meal, the waiters served us dessert which was creme brûlée. I have had creme brûlée before but I would say that this was just as good as the other creme brûlée I have had in the past. The food was beyond my expectations and I would like to come here again but as Don said, “If I had the money I would come here everyday!” 

After dinner, Don gathered all the cohort and alums together to take a group photo. In the first photo we took, we did not have the Penn banner.  Don shot probably more than 20 pictures of us without the flag. We were all excited when Don pulled out the flag and had bigger smiles. After a long and fun day, we finally took BART home and everyone parted ways.
Back: Alums
Front: Cohort going to Penn
I was looking back at all the things I did in the past and realized that nobody has ever invested this much into my education, let alone the education of everyone in my cohort! I am extremely grateful for the sponsors contribution and without them I would not have been able to have this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I am also grateful to all the alums that came tonight. Luis’ advice was extremely helpful and gave me a new perspective on college. Thank you sponsors and alums! 

An Unforgettable Moment

All throughout, our lives we experience beautiful moments that are burned into our memories. One of those moments, we will never forget. My unforgettable moment was May 14, 2015, my first Penn dinner. At the start of my day all I could think about was this dinner. (Not because I was hungry or anything). I was just really excited about the experience. I didn't know what to expect from it. Unlike the interview I didn't ask anyone what to expect from the dinner. One thing I can say though, is that it exceeded any notion I may have had.

Some people believe that the best part of travel is reaching your destination but I believe that the best part is everything you see and do along the way. I had the pleasure of sitting next to Jun Chen, on the way to Kuleto's. We talked about a variety of topics from exams to the dinner speech she was going to give. Jun was very nervous about her speech but I did my best to try to reassure her.
Her moment.
After, we got off of the BART train and we made our way to the restaurant. As we walked all I could do was look up at the buildings on Powell Street. I'm from San Francisco and I don't ever recall going up, down, or anywhere near Powell. I'm proud to say that my first visit to Powell Street was with a group of wonderful young scholars.

Then, we finally arrived at what appeared to be our destination. I walked anxiously through the restaurant trailing slowly behind Don. We reached a narrow staircase that led to a large intimate room with four round tables each set with a name card. Each table sat a total of seven people. I was very eager to see who l would be sitting at a table with.

Next, Don began to point out where each of us were going to be sitting. He looked at my mom and I prior to a gesture to a table about two feet from the entrance of the intimate room. I walked nervously to my seat looking at every name card. The name card on my right said Ben Alisuang. I saw a man approaching me, reaching out to shake my hand. We shook hands and he took the seat to my right. Ben started to tell me that he was an alum of Penn. I asked him when he graduated and he told me he graduated in 2009. He told me that he went to Tennyson high school in Hayward, California. When he said that I was able to identify with him because I had lived in Hayward for some time.

I was taken totally by surprise when he said that due to the fact that he came from Hayward. Yet, that just goes to show you that no matter where you come from you can do anything with hard work. Ben became a teacher with the Teach for America association. With that program he was able to go to New York and even Africa.
Wally Gordon (far right), Ben Alisuang (right), Me

The next person I met that night was Wally Gordon he happened to be sitting on the right of Ben. He is a major sponsor to the ILC. He told me that he was an architect and he worked on the  remodeling of De Anza High School. Along side him was Scott Berge, he also worked on De Anza. Next, to Scott was his wife Michelle (Berge). Beside her was John Hillyer my chaperon. John is a teacher at De Anza who has been a Penn chaperon for a couple of years.
My mother Millard Clay on the left and John Hillyer on the right.
He told us about the sites my cohort would go see and the food we would try. Just from everything he said I was becoming more and more thrilled to go. I still can't believe that I am having a chance to pursue this wonderful opportunity.

I just want to say that my first dinner was so amazing and all of the experiences I am taking in wouldn't be possible without the ILC, most importantly the sponsors, contributors, or donators. Thank you all for helping me reach a major milestone in my young life.
Thank you to everyone who helped make this possible for me.
I am grateful.

An Exciting and Eventful Day

I woke up this Thursday morning feeling as excited as ever. Normally, I dreaded Thursdays because I had to get up earlier than other days, but today was different. Today marked the day of my very first dinner for the ILC. I could feel summer slowly approaching, and as I count down the days, it almost feels like a dream. I still find it unbelievable that I am actually able to participate in the ILC, and travel to UPENN over the summer. It truly is an amazing opportunity, and I couldn’t be more excited for what’s to come.

Mr. Hillyer during the dinner
As I arrived at school at 8:30 AM, I had realized how hectic my schedule was going to be. Today was the start of my finals week, where all of my classes become two hours long in order to accommodate the finals. This became a stressful time, as I tried to study and finish all of the projects that I would need by today. Not only that, but I was also worried about arriving at the BART station on time, since everyone had to meet by 5:10 PM. The problem was that I had a class from 4:50 PM, so it seemed almost impossible to arrive by that time. Fortunately, I was able to convince my teacher to let me out early, and surprisingly enough, I was the first to arrive.

Once I was finally at the BART station, I waited with my mother for the others to come. One by one, the people from my cohort began to arrive with their parents, and we all stood outside with the cold air hitting against our bodies. Since this was the first time I was meeting them, I became nervous because I didn't actually know what to say. However, before we actually went on the BART, we all had a little bit of time to chat among one another, which calmed me down significantly, and I was actually able to meet my chaperone, John Hillyer. To be honest, it was silly of me to be so nervous.

After we had gotten off at Powell St., we walked for a few blocks before finally arriving at Kuleto's. I was in awe at how fancy the outside of the restaurant had looked, since it's something that I don't see everyday, but the inside was even more stunning. I was fascinated by how we were led down a set of stairs into a room where some of the dinner guests were waiting.

Like mother like daughter
As we began to introduce ourselves, I met several wonderful people and learned so much from them. I was able to see that it was pointless of me to continue hiding in my shell, and that I eventually had to break out. With my mom sitting to my right, I was able to feel at ease while talking to the others sitting at my table. To my left, was Calvin Nguyen, who was an alumni from UPENN, and he was also able to teach me several things about attending UPENN, and also gave me helpful advice that I am very thankful for. The others sitting at my table were Norma Martinez-Rubin, Jeff Rubin, Madeline Kronenberg, and Andrea Powell. With the few hours that we had spent at dinner, I was able to get to know each one of them, as well as have interesting conversations with each other.

Flowers for our mothers
After the dinner had ended, we took several pictures, and made our way back to the BART station. While walking back, several of us were carrying a vase filled with flowers that Don had graciously given to the mothers that had come to dinner. I ended the night at around 10:30 PM with lots of laughter, and endless talking with my cohort. Although today was a long, and exhausting day, every part of the dinner was enjoyable to me.
PENN cohort and alums smiling for the camera

Dinner With the Winners

Tonight was the night. I would give a speech in front of the most important people ever: alumni and sponsors. I was trying to rerun the main points of the speech throughout my head but eventually leading down to still saying something totally different than what I had in mind. It did not matter at the end though, because I believe I got my message across:  "We cannot wait to embark on this journey!"

Earlier today I was confident, happy, and excited about what's to come during the evening. It was the start of finals and I was ready to ace my first finals and make this ILC dinner at Kuleto's as a treat for myself to work harder for my upcoming finals. I had a whole plan ready: turn in my Spanish final early and leave at around 3:20PM to get ready to meet up with my cohort at El Cerrito Plaza BART station at 5PM. Everything was going smoothly-maybe a little too smooth- until our lovely, amazing, understanding Spanish teacher decided to throw a curve ball at us. She gave Justeen (an ILCer who's going to UPenn's Physics Program) and I two options: take a B for the semester and leave early or stay to work on a customized crossword puzzle worth two test grades. Both of us picked the latter. We finished at around 4:30PM and lucky for Justeen, Mrs. Hipolito had her clothes prepared for her while I had nothing ready. I was planning on going back home to change but things just did not go right. This was when my mother came to save the day. When she came to pick me up, she had my clothes ready in the trunk. I am so glad that I made it close to the meeting time at the BART station. Mothers are amazing and I just wanted to point that out right now, Thanks mom!

We arrived at Kuleto's on schedule and shortly afterwards everyone arrived: the sponsors, alumni, and supporters.
Nicely set table with beautiful flowers in the middle at Kuleto's
There were butterflies in my stomach as I glanced at the dinner schedule and saw that I was third to speak
 I eventually sat next to my mother and Luis Chia, a '07 UPenn graduate. Across from me was Don, Joanne's mother and Joanne. Sitting left to my mother was ILC's long term supporter Linda Cohen. It was a coincidence that I sat next to Luis who also spoke on behalf of the alumni and I too, was speaking on behalf of my cohort. After we listened to Luis' informative speech about the spectacular and amazing things at UPenn, I garnered my guts and hopped right in front everyone to display how excited we are to go UPenn. There was definitely room for improvement and I will better myself in future speeches and presentations. I learned so much just by speaking tonight because you wont get a chance to speak with such a crowd often.

Following the agenda, we moved onto our main course rather quickly as our salad was served-no idea when-to us way before. Maybe I was too focused on my speech before that I neglected the grand entrance of the appetizers. While enjoying the food, Luis gave both Joanne and I helpful insight about what to expect once you reach college. I completely agree with his saying of  "If you don't ask for it, don't expect to receive anything." I believe this applies to various occasions, whether it be asking for more financial aid assistance from the school of your choice to just opportunities in life. He also elaborated on dual majoring to study abroad opportunities offered at UPenn. What I really like about UPenn is that both Linda and Luis both said that UPenn is very liberal comparing to other Ivy League schools. That made me feel comfortable deep inside as I knew I love colleges that have a strong resemblance of the Bay Area. 

I ordered Filet Mignon with sidings of mash potatoes and green beans of some sort. It was too delicious and by the time I realized that I had forgotten to take a picture of my wonderful dinner, it was too late. It was truly scrumptious and I am a tad sad that I couldn't capture its alluring look on camera. That being said, I absolutely got my camera out first thing when the creme brulee was served. The dessert was perfect, whether it be the display or the taste. 
Delightful creamy creme brulee for dessert
Afterwards, the alumni and ILCers were called to take a group photo to commemorate tonight's wonderful experience. We were quick in terms of positioning for the camera and I just had to point that out because normally Don takes quite a while to position people in order to capture better quality photos. I could not believe that the night was about to be over. Time flies while you're having fun. Not to mention that its fun on an educational level.
I hope for everyone to believe that this is fruitful investment as we will not let WCCUSD down. This was a wonderful evening with amazing supportive alumni and sponsors. We would not been able to have this lifetime opportunity without everyone's support. Thank you.

The Dinner to End All Dinners

The Penn dinner took place tonight at Kuleto's in San Francisco. Prior to the dinner, I was utterly nervous and anxious as to what the night would entail. On the car ride over to the El Cerrito Plaza, I was thinking of different questions I could ask and various conversation starters. It seemed as if my brain could only think of all the worst case scenarios that could happen during the dinner. However, all my anxieties seemed to just melt away as the night continued.

The BART ride over to the restaurant helped quell some of my anxiety. It was nice to stare out of the train window and enjoy the passing scenery as well as engage in compelling conversation with Joanne’s mother.

At the restaurant, I had the pleasure of sitting with Markus Beissinger who graduated in 2013/2014 and Charley Ma who graduated in 2012. Both had so many amazing things to tell me about UPenn. What inspired me most about them was their sense of pride in their school. I loved listening to their perspectives on what Penn was like and I was more than happy to listen to everything they had to say. The more they told me about UPenn, the more I was able to picture myself there. I was delighted to learn more about the Greek life in Penn as well as the different professors that I would encounter. 

Charley talked about his experience with switching majors and working at J.P Morgan; he stressed to me the importance of office hours and taking advantage of the opportunity to talk to my professors. While Markus was able to share his experiences with his fraternity as well as the school of Wharton. He spoke briefly about him and his fraternity fundraising for cancer, which I found very impressive. I greatly appreciated their honesty in sharing what they loved about their school and being able to tell me what they didn't like so much about UPenn. I valued their ability to answer my countless questions about housing, sports, traditions, food, etc. Moreover, I was surprised to learn that Penn has a really good rowing team as well as a fencing team. Learning about these quirky little facts made Penn feel so much more real and made me realize how fast the summer is approaching.
I also sat with Fred Powell who is a proud sponsor of the Ivy League Connection. I thought it was fantastic of him to come out to our dinner and see exactly what the ILC has to offer. Fred is an architect and he gladly shared his familiarities with the schools built in my district. He also talked about his experience with traveling abroad to different parts of Africa, this I found really interesting because I would love to travel abroad at some point during my college career.

All in all, sitting at the table in Kuleto’s surrounded by people who were rooting for me to excel in my education was an inexplicable feeling. Being able to establish connections with the alumni reminded me of the true meaning of the ILC; to welcome in opportunity.
Leges sine moribus vanae~~Laws without morals are useless
all the proud moms