Sunday, October 27, 2013

I Had a Hunch This Brunch Would Pack a Punch

Just when I thought I was done blogging...

I hadn’t looked forward to getting up early on the weekend, but by the time I met Don and several ILCers from Brown and Yale at BART, I was wide awake. My excitement for ILC events was back—although I’m sure the freezing temperature was a factor in my sudden alertness.

The drive to the Olympic Club with Ms. Kronenberg and  Peggy, a Brown alumna, had comfortable conversation, and when we arrived, it was instantly clear that the Olympic Club was amazing. It had three golf courses, as well as several other high-quality sports facilities which Izzy Ramsey listed off for us on the tour. Oh yes, we got a tour. Mr. Ramsey was very kind to take us through some of the rooms of the athletic club, showing us a view of a golf course and the tennis courts, and it was fun to explore a little.

We mingled for a short while; I talked with Amy (a parent), Sophia (a Yale alumna), and Peggy (a Brown alumna). It was nice to hear from people who had first-hand experience with Brown and Yale, and I took advantage of the opportunity to learn more about college life and applications from these people.

Sonya, Elia, and I talking to Peggy from Brown

This type of conversation continued at the actual brunch, although other topics (like sports) jumped in occasionally. I was seated with three Brown alumni, Blake, Andrea, and Simon, who were very open and fun to talk with. I learned new things about college, and the brunch itself was delicious. I really look forward to future Brown/Yale mentor events; the ideas people came up with seemed interesting and fun, and these events will come with more chances to ask questions to the alumni.

It was still new to me to sit at a table with three strangers and still feel perfectly comfortable. I suppose I’m still adjusting to my new ability to relate to adults I’ve never met, which I’ve developed thanks to the ILC. I reread my blog about the Town Hall dinner just for fun, thinking that I would find my own description of a similar experience, but I was wrong. That blog was written by a younger, far more nervous version of me. I remembered putting in too much effort to maintain a conversation, worrying about my posture and manners…it’s incredible how different I felt at this brunch. I think that this feeling of being more mature than I was less than a year ago says something truly amazing about the ILC.

This brunch gave me an opportunity to reflect on the ways the ILC experience has affected me as a person, as well as to think about my future. I can’t express strongly enough how useful this network of alumni will be to me and to other ILCers. Getting advice from friends and siblings isn’t the same as getting it from people who have had different backgrounds and experiences at Ivy League schools, and having a mentor to reach out to is extremely valuable to all of us. I’d like to express my thanks to Charles Ramsey, Don Gosney, Madeline Kronenberg, and Izzy Ramsey, as well as all the Brown and Yale alumni who attended for this delightful event.

Brunch at the Olympic Club

Today the Brown and Yale cohorts received the amazing opportunity to meet with Brown and Yale graduates who can aid us with our college applications. On top of all that, we got to meet over brunch at the Olympic Club, which was breathtakingly beautiful.

A senior in high school this year, it was really helpful for me to hear the different perspectives of Brown graduates. While Peggy majored in Economics, and Blake was a Pre-Med, I saw one commonality among all of the Brown alums: they all were so happy to have attended Brown.

Peggy, who graduated in 1984, said that she was not sure what she wanted to study, and ended up majoring in Economics by default. Now, she is a successful lawyer. She said that even if what you major in is not what you end up doing as a career, having a background in anything can help in other fields. I found this piece of advice very helpful.

Blake was one of the few students who was accepted into Brown's program in which you take eight years of medical classes, without having to go through the process of applying to graduate school. I thought it was really impressive that he was able to know as a 17-year-old high school student that he wanted to be a doctor. I have an idea of what I want to do and what I am interested in, but I do not have a definite career mapped out.

We got to tour the Olympic Club, which was so incredibly nice. Every patch of grass on the golf fields was perfectly green, every glass perfectly polished, and every piece of furniture perfectly placed.

When we got our food, I was so overwhelmed with all of the choices. The buffet included: fresh fruit, pastries, french toast, potatoes, omelets, and more. I ended up taking way too much food, and was not able to finish it all.

It was really fun and helpful to get to start planning more Mentor-Mentoree events. We decided that we will have a Pier Day in San Francisco where we will go to an interactive theater, have lunch, and learn some more from each other.

I am so grateful that I was able to go all the way to Brown, and I am grateful now that I am able to receive even more help from the ILC. I couldn't ask for more help applying to college.

Looks Like Mt. Olympus

Today I had a lovely brunch at the Olympic Club, in San Francisco. As guests of Mr. Izzy Ramsey we had the exclusive opportunity of enjoying a fantastic brunch at the oldest athletic club in the US. When we first arrived Mr. Ramsey gave us a tour of the country club, which was quite impressive.

Afterwards we gathered in a lounge that had a lovely fireplace and a large portrait above the mantle. Then we were led into a small room where we were offered drinks of our choice and we spent a few minutes socializing. I spoke to three Brown alumni--Lauren, Blake, and Simon, about their experience and my preparation for college. One thing I must admit is that the Brown alumni have me persuaded to want to attend Brown. My main concern is the academic environment. I want to attend a school that cultivates an environment in which students are encouraged to help one another. The last thing I want in college is competition, and all of the Brown alumni that I spoke to did not experience that.

It was finally time to have our brunch. It was buffet style so we were offered a variety of food. While we served ourselves we listened to the piano music played by an actual pianist. After we got our food, I was able to have an in-depth conversation about college with Lauren Brodsky. We talked about a variety of topics relating to education.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about my future. My friends who are seniors are beginning to fill out their college applications, so I've had a list of questions about the college application  process. I also had a few questions about the stressful topic--money. After speaking with Lauren, I feel more prepared for college.

It was a wonderful gathering and I am looking forward to seeing them again. Each time I attend these alumni gatherings I realize that my nervous jitters weren't necessary. The mentors are so kind and helpful in making us feel at ease. Without the help of Mr. Charles Ramsey, Ms. Madeline Kronenberg, Mr. Don Gosney, Mr. Izzy Ramsey, and the Yale and Brown alumni this would not be possible. I would like to thank them for their benevolence and their generosity. This was a great way to spend my Sunday.

The Olympic Club

A Beneficial Brunch

Although the thought of sleeping in today was tempting, I woke up at 7 AM to get ready to go an ILC event. It had been a while since I’d attended an ILC event, so getting together with everyone again was exciting. After meeting up at the El Cerrito Plaza BART Station with some members of the Brown and Yale cohorts, we all drove to the Olympic Club in San Francisco to have brunch with alumni from Brown and Yale. From a picture Don had emailed us of an aerial view of the Club, I was already prepared to be amazed. I was not disappointed. The Club was on a big, beautiful property and had elegant rooms and a giant golf course. Thanks to Mr. Izzy Ramsey, we got a lovely tour of the Club and I found out that Mark Twain used to be a member there!

The Olympic Club

Even with the fog, the view was great.

Once everyone had arrived, we got to mingle with the alumni. I met Peggy, a Brown alumna, who talked about Brown’s flexibility when it comes towards a student’s major. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t know what I want to major in yet so going to a college where I can take my time choosing a major sounds nice. It was also great to see Lauren, another alumna, again because I sat next to her at the Brown dinner and it was nice to talk to her about my experience at Brown. Most of the Brown alumni that I talked to also mentioned that they never felt like they were competing with other students at Brown. I definitely got a community vibe from Brown this summer because the Leadership Institute promoted teamwork and all the other students in my program were so helpful. 

During the actual brunch part of the event, I sat at a table with Simon, Andrea, and Blake (all Brown alumni) as well as a few other students who had done summer programs at Brown. During the meal (which was one of the best meals I’ve ever had) I didn’t feel any pressure because all the alums were so open and friendly. We talked a lot about our experiences at Brown but they were also genuinely interested in learning about our personal interests and hobbies. Unfortunately, brunch went by quickly but I was happy to find out that we’d be going to a lot of events together as a group. Some fun ideas for our next meetings were to go to sporting events, Fisherman’s Wharf, and take an improv class. I really like the idea of being able to have fun and hang out with people who have already been through college and can help set me on the right path. 

This brunch was so beneficial to me because it allowed me to feel even more confident that I can succeed because I have a support system around me. Although the idea of my future is scary, it’s nice to have someone who recently went through the same thing and can help guide me. I can’t thank Mr. Izzy Ramsey, Mr. Charles Ramsey, Don, and Ms. Kronenberg enough for giving me this amazing opportunity.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Cycle of Learning and Life Never Ends

I will never forget you Dean Almandrez
I'll Miss You Mandy! 
Sadly, I will no longer wake up next to my roommate, Mandy, talking about how she wants to go back to sleep. I will no longer wake up to the sound of my friend’s running back in forth in the hallway rushing to get dressed, so that they won’t be late for class. I will no longer wake up to the sight of beautiful pine trees swaying in the breeze outside my window.  I feel very sullen about leaving Brown University, because this summer program was like an escape from reality. I enjoyed waking up every morning going to a class filled with people who have beautiful souls and truly want to learn. Everyone in that classroom wanted to be a part of the Women and Leadership program and I am overjoyed that I had the pleasure of being in the presence of such inspirational women. I am grateful that Dean Almandrez was my teacher and I can still feel the power of each word that she spoke to me in that classroom every single day. I was a part of a family that made offered me comfort when I didn’t feel like I could achieve my goals in the future. I am passionate and headstrong, but I didn’t know that until I came to the Women and Leadership class. I gained so much confidence during my time at Brown University that I wish all young women would have the opportunity to attend the Women and Leadership program.

Yes, I'm crying 
I can remember how proud of myself I was back when I was chosen to be a part of the Ivy League Connection. I was proud, but scared of what the future might entail. I can still recall the moment that I saw my name on the dinner invitation that made me the for the student speaker for the night. I was so afraid that I would humiliate myself and I had to muster all the strength I had in my body to get up in front of all those intimidating individuals and speak from my heart. I’ve learned so many lessons from working with people with a wide array of personalities and I received everything that I sought to find out about myself while I was in the Women and Leadership program. One of the reasons why I wanted to participate in the Women and Leadership program was, because not only would I better myself as a student, but I would also become a better person in the process. I wanted to challenge myself to see if I could handle the pressure of being in a new environment, with people who I’d never met before and learning terms that I had never heard of. I am used to being in a classroom where I am the only one interested in exploring different theories and coming up with solutions for the problems that I see in society. Nonetheless, I was able to be around some many bright young men and women who shared the same passion as me. I will truly miss all of my classmates who praised me for just being myself.  I wish that I could go back in the past and tell myself not to be afraid of success, because I can finally fulfill my dreams of being an advocate for young women in society. I can now pass on the knowledge that I’ve gained in order to help other women out there and so on and so forth. The cycle of learning never ends, but there is always an opportunity for it to begin.
Heidi Meuth and her beautiful smile that lights up every room that she enters 
I can’t remember the last time that I cried about leaving school until the day that I had to pack my bags and say good-bye to Brown University. I know that my living quarters weren't perfect, but the people that I shared that building with made it all worth it. People in my life don’t get opportunity like this presented in front of them every day and I feel like I am so blessed to say that I have. There are so many people in this world that would kill for an opportunity to go back in time and change the direction that their life is heading in, but I know that I wouldn’t change anything that has happened thus far for anything in the world.
Here are the faces of the people who I hope that I get a chance to see again. I miss you guys!

The hardships that I’ve faced in my life started to hardened my heart and soul which is something that I sought to retrieve on this trip. I feel like I accomplished my goal and I am a softer person. I will never be a person who allows people to mistreat me, but now I have the skills to have controversy with civility. I know believe again there are nice people in this world whose only intentions in this world are to promote positivity and female empowerment.  If in the future I meet people who have half as much character as the people that I’ve met here, then I know that my future will be filled with happiness and joy.
Good bye Brown University and Summer@Brown students

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Some Memories Never Fade

“Memories warm you up from the inside, but they also tear you apart.” Thinking about everything I experienced at Brown and all of the incredible people I met warms my heart, but at the same time, brings an ache, as I deeply miss the class and all of the people in it.

I knew from my sophomore year that this was the program for me. When my friend had come back from Brown gushing over everything she had experienced there, I knew I had to try it for myself.

On the day of my interview, I was too nervous to think about anything else the entire day. When the time came to randomly pick the order of interviewees, I picked the card that said first. At the time, I couldn't think of anything worse: I was the very first one. I was setting the bar. Looking back on it, I think going first was probably the best option, because instead of letting my nerves build up inside me, I got to channel all of my energy into a passionate interview.

After everyone had interviewed, I came to realize that my interview had definitely been the shortest out of all six. I started to panic--had I spoken enough about each topic? Was I too brief? Did I talk too quickly?

When they called us into the room to announce who had been chosen, I was bracing myself for the worst. Then, as one of the panelists held up the cards with the names of the girls who had been selected, I could slightly make out my name through the white paper. I wasn't sure, and I held my breath as she called out the names.

My name was the first to be called. I let out a huge sigh of relief, and felt myself smiling. I tried to stay composed, but I could not conceal my excitement! I knew from then on that everything was about to change. Not only was this extremely exhilarating, but also extremely scary. I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

The day we left for the airport at 4:00 AM, I wondered to myself if I was in way over my head, or if I had made a mistake in even applying. When we went on our first college tour, I realized that even if I was in way over my head, that this opportunity was once in a lifetime, and I had earned the spot in the program. That got me thinking: the panelists voted for me to come all the way across the country and take a class, which means they actually believe that I can accomplish something. Doubtfully, I thought, "maybe it's time I start believing it too."

After touring Brandeis, I realized that if it weren't for the ILC giving me the opportunity to go see the campus, I would never have even considered applying to Brandeis. It is now on the list of my top ten schools.

On the first day of class, I was so nervous. I remember thinking that everyone would be smarter and more capable than I was. After just one day in the class, I had already learned so much, that it didn't matter if the other girls were smarter than I was. It was a class, not a competition; but even so, I came out as the winner because I learned so much about society and myself.

The Women and Leadership class.
I was pleasantly surprised by the class in that it wasn't completely focused on women. I had not really considered the leadership aspect of the class, but was glad to find that I got to learn more about my own leadership style, as well as how to work with other leadership styles.

I think the main reason I loved the class so much is because of our teacher, Dean Almandrez. She was so invested in each of us, and was so interested in seeing us succeed. It felt really great to have a teacher who cared so much about what we were doing and how we felt.

Dean Almandrez!
Another reason I loved the class is because of all of the amazing people I met. I made friends with literally every single girl in a class of 26. Even though we were all so different, it was amazing that we were able to become friends. I will forever cherish the friendships I have developed with these girls, even if I may never see them again.

I think anyone who gets to take the Women and Leadership class next year is extremely lucky, and I hope that the ILC never stops offering it. The class was eye-opening, interesting, amazing and innovative all at the same time. I am so grateful that I was able to participate in such an amazing program, and I hope that next year, other girls can say the same. 

Thinking back to the first day of our journey when we left for the airport and I was second guessing myself, I now believe that because of everything I learned in the Women and Leadership class, that I am a leader, and if I can believe in myself, I can accomplish anything.

If it weren't for Dean Almandrez, I would not be able to say this right now. More importantly, if it weren't for the ILC, I wouldn't have even had the chance to second guess myself in the first place. I feel so incredibly thankful to have experienced this amazing opportunity.

Thank you, ILC!

Process Of Discovering Myself

On my sophomore year, some of my classmates and I were called to library for the presentation about Ivy League Connection. I was completely unaware about this program until then. Women and Leadership had already grabbed my attention when I first heard about it but I did not have confidence to apply and I thought I could not make it through the selection process. 

Junior year came around and I attended another presentation about Ivy League Connection. All of my friends decided that they would apply for it so I planned to give it a try as well. One day my friend called me and asked, "Did you check you email yet?" I replied, "No. Why?" She told me that I had been selected for interview. I was surprised upon finding out that I was selected. 

The first event after the interview was fancy Dinner at Town Hall. I remember I was tensed in the beginning but as I got to talk to other adults in my table I realized they were very welcoming. I was given opportunity to ask question regarding colleges. We attended many other events with ILC and they all had been a new experience for me. Every time, I could see confidence grow within me. 

It was already July; time to explore colleges at East Coast and take class at Brown University. Everyone often talked about UCs or private university at Northern California but I wanted to explore my options outside of California. There was no way I could take trip to any colleges outside of California and only resource I could rely on was internet. 

If it had not been for Ivy League Connection, I would never get to visit colleges at East Coast, learn about courses they offered, admissions processes and scholarships. Since I am a rising senior, getting a taste of colleges at East Coast was very helpful. 

The best part was to take class at Brown University and learn more about myself. Two weeks was short time but I was able to experience college life and how it was like to be a college student. I had to be responsible for myself and I learnt ways to manage my time. After taking Women and Leadership class, I was able to look at things in a different way. I had told Dean Almandrez that I wanted to come outside of my comfort zone but she replied me that the point is to expand the comfort zone and I think I did. Yes, I had been the girl who never had confidence in herself, was afraid to speak up and identify herself as a leader. Because of this program, I discovered myself and learnt that it is important to believe in yourself.

Taking summer class at Brown University or traveling to East Coast as a high school students is something I had never imagined. This journey has been life changing experience for me. The tours helped me understand more about liberal arts colleges and I might apply to those colleges this year. I do not wish to keep all the information learnt at Brown University within myself rather share it with my community. In future, I wish to pass on my learning from Women and Leadership class to students at my school as well as people at Nepal.

None of this would have been possible without Don, Mr. Ramsey, Ms. Kronenberg, sponsors and chaperones. Thank you all for your hard work and support to make this program possible. With all the knowledge I have gained from this trip, I have decided to open Ivy League Connection Club by collaborating with other cohorts and share all the experiences with students at De Anza high school and encourage them to apply for ILC. 

Goodbye, Hello

I had known before what you would consider to be “Day 1” for me that I wanted to be a part of this program. I had already seen the transformational effect of taking classes at Ivy League schools with the ILC in my brother. When Nick returned from a college-level course with a newfound ability to behave like an adult, yet still be himself (if you don’t believe me, compare his first interview tape with his second), I knew that I wanted that ability. I wanted that superpower.

I wrote my essay for Women and Leadership (and Presidential Powers, before I got in to this course I planned on applying to Presidential Powers as well, thank goodness Women and Leadership came first), and submitted it thinking “at least I tried,” because to me the best I could do would never seem like enough to balance what the ILC would be giving me—well, I still don’t think that.

Being accepted into this program was a shock to me, and everything after that was one long blur until I was suddenly on my own on the East Coast. Touring colleges taught me what the college experience would be like, but taking a course at Brown let me live it.

I don’t think there are words to express what Women and Leadership has done for me. If you’ve read some of my earlier blogs, then you know what we did in the class, but I can’t quite describe what it was like or how exactly it changed me. A few days ago, my mom was talking about the Supporters of the Theater Arts committee at my school, and, without thinking, I asked if I could join. I never would have done that before, but now, well, I just went to a meeting tonight. I don't feel different, but I know something must have changed. I thought of the idea for my Action Plan after I was accepted into the Ivy League Connection, but I doubt I would have even come close to succeeding without this course, and I wouldn't have started it without the ILC.

I know I’m lucky. I think that if I had been handed a list of every class at Brown and told to choose the one I liked best, Women and Leadership wouldn’t be the top of my list. Now that I’m home, however, I’m thoroughly convinced that Women and Leadership is the best course that the ILC offers—and it’s absolutely the best class I’ve ever taken.

It's odd. Thinking back on my time at Brown, a lot of my memories from there seem to have a surreal quality to them, like I'm not remembering things quite right now that I'm home. For example, I started to question whether the food at Brown was as good as I had thought it was when my mom fed me a regular old sandwich and I asked her, “What is in this?!”

One of the questions on Don's Post Mortem Questionnaire was, "Was this class interesting to you?  Did it live up to your expectations?" “Interesting” is an understatement. I’d probably go with something more like “captivating” or “fascinating” or “oh-my-god-this-is-the-greatest-thing-ever-ing.” If my expectations were for this class to bring me up to the top of a hill, it brought me to the surface of the moon. This course greatly surpassed anything I could ever have imagined it to be.

When I got in to this program, I thought I would come home having improved some basic leadership skills. In reality, this class is much bigger than that. On top of those skills, you can’t forget to add the lessons I’ve learned, and the confidence and maturity I have gained, as well as one more very important thing: I now identify as a leader. Two weeks, and I’m suddenly a leader? How does that happen?

I had no idea what I would write in my final blog. To be honest, when I started blogging, I wasn't very enthusiastic. I didn't really want to write one at all, and I only did because I knew if I didn't I could expect a lengthy email from Evil Don. But I'm so glad that I did. I reread my pre-departure blog, and I remembered the nervous, excited anticipation I felt before I left. It feels like I wrote it so long ago. I'm surprised to think how much less I expected from this course, and I smile to think how much more it turned out to be. This whole experience is all thanks to the ILC, and I'd like to thank Mr. Ramsey, Mrs. Kronenberg, and Don Gosney for everything they do for this program. To everyone who helped me here, I owe you a hug. This course truly is life-changing, and my experiences at Brown will forever be a part of me.

Mere Memories

Although I’ve only been home for a couple of days, my time on the East Coast already seems like a distant memory. It’s almost as if it happened in a dream. Did I really tour four colleges? Did I really take the Women and Leadership course? Did I really make an Action Plan? It’s so strange that in a mere three weeks, I have made memories and bonds that will stay with me for a lifetime. What’s more, I have grown so much more as a person. I am much more self-aware. This sort of growth usually takes months, years even, and yet, in a matter of three weeks, I feel as though I have completely transformed. Is that even possible in such a short period of time?

I’ve found it surprisingly easy to adjust back to my life at home and yet it was surprisingly easy to adjust to life in a dorm two weeks ago. Isn’t it odd how fast something new can become normal? But even though I feel fully adjusted to life back at home, there’s still this moment when I wake up in the morning when I think that I can look across the room and see my roommate getting out of bed or that I can walk down the hall and meet some friends for breakfast. 4 days ago, as I was walking out of the Brown gates for the final time, I felt as though I were leaving a piece of myself behind but I also knew that I was taking a piece of Brown with me.

Brown Bear statue 
I can even remember all the way back to my first alumni dinner at Town Hall. I was so nervous on the BART ride over because I had no idea how I was going to make conversation with adults. But, when I got to Town Hall, I was happily surprised to find that it was so easy to talk to the people at my table. They were all genuinely interested in hearing my opinion and Lauren, the alumni next to me, was happy to answer all my college-related questions. I feel like this was the first time that I realized how many people are willing to help me on my path to college. And, yes, there were times when I was stressed out: filling out all the paperwork to apply to the ILC, applying for my course, and having to blog when all I wanted to do was sleep. But, while these seemed like negative aspects of the ILC at first, I now realize that, because of all these, I have gained responsibility and independence. Those are two qualities that many people only gain when they get to college and now I have a head start.

And then there’s all the way back to when it started. I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that I applied for the Ivy League Connection eight months ago! Even though time has flown since then (there’s no way it’s been eight months!) I can’t seem to recall filling out paperwork or preparing for my interview. Eight months ago, I had no clue how much this experience would change me. When I first heard about the program, I was talking to my principal about a scheduling error and, out of the blue, he recommended I check out the Ivy League Connection because it might interest me. A few months later, I was in an auditorium filled with students from my school listening to Don Gosney talk about the ILC. As I was looking around at all these intelligent students, I thought: There’s no way I’ll get into this program. I can’t compete with them. Yet here I am. At the risk of sounding cheesy, I’d like to say that the ILC has taught me that if I put everything I’ve got into something, I will be rewarded in the end. Although this is by no means the end, I already feel rewarded.

At the beginning of all this, I was insecure and nervous about my future. Where was I going to college? How was I going to pay for it? Which extracurriculars will look better on my college applications? During my time with the ILC, I have learned what sort of things I like in a college and what sort of things I don’t. I have learned what kind of questions to ask colleges in order to make sure they have what I need. These first-hand experiences of getting to visit colleges have lengthened my list of possible colleges to apply to. Not only that, but by talking to incredibly bright individuals in college I now have reassurance that it’s fine to not know what I want to major in yet. Without the ILC, these opportunities would not have been available to me otherwise. There aren’t enough synonyms for “thank you” to describe how grateful I am towards the Ivy League Connection for giving me the chance to see and experience a world beyond the one I am comfortable with. 

Hope and Power

My dormitory, Perkins Hall, is located near the intersection of the streets, Hope and Power. If there are two things that I have received or felt as a result of this trip, it is the feeling of hope and empowerment.

Like I have stated in my previous blogs, each Ivy League Connection event, that I attended prior to my departure to Brown, has contributed to my personal growth. My participation in the Women and Leadership course was the final and most impactful factor to my growth as an individual. As a result of my participation in the Ivy League Connection, I have more faith in my abilities and I am confident about being in an environment that asks for my maturity and intelligence.

When I attended the informational session about the Ivy League Connection, I was entranced by the descriptions of the experiences of the Ivy League Connection participants. I was astounded by the idea that I could be a participant in the Ivy League Connection. However, at that time, I was extremely doubtful that I would be accepted. The presentation for the Ivy League Connection primarily discussed the application process and we were able to hear short testimonials from the previous year’s students who completed the Women and Leadership course. My mind mainly harped on the idea that we would be able to stay at an Ivy League.

Before I heard about the Ivy League Connection, I honestly knew a minimal amount of information in regards to the Ivy Leagues.  I never considered applying to any of the schools. Throughout my entire life I always pictured myself attending UC Berkeley or Stanford. I am familiar with their campuses and I know about some of the programs offered there since they are discussed at college fairs. The campus atmosphere is another aspect I consider when thinking of prospective colleges. Although a majority of individuals will not have the opportunity to visit the Ivy Leagues due to their location, it is essential that other young students are aware of these schools. There is so much more than what is in your own state. I am fortunate that I will be able to share my experience at Brown with my community. Whenever I step out of my comfort zone, I am weary at first, but I soon discover that I am thankful I did. It appears that most students in low-income areas are unaware of the Ivy Leagues, and I am thankful that the Ivy League Connection exposes us to these schools. Without the Ivy League Connection, I would not have the opportunity to participate in a program like the one I attended at Brown.

My grandparents are encouraging me to stay in California because in their culture the child is expected to support his/her parents. Luckily my parents are comfortable with any choice I make in regards to the colleges I apply to.

The interview for the Ivy League Connection was my first conventional interview. I was surprised when I heard my name called among the other selected students. The best advice I can give is to put your best foot forward. Try your best and relax! Don has always stressed that the panelists, for the Ivy League Connection, are on our side. They want us to succeed. 

Each event that the Ivy League Connection holds benefits the students in a variety of ways. I developed both personally and intellectually from participating in these events.

I had a preconceived notion that these events would not be positive for me. Contrary to my beliefs, the interview, the alumni dinner, and the School Board meeting were successful events for me. Each event was a major stepping stone and I felt prepared for the next event I would attend. 

The blogs have encouraged me to analyze my surroundings and to think critically about what I have learned.

If you read Don’s instructions, your experience will be wonderful. The packet was a major help that I used as a reference throughout the entire process. The packet should be renamed to How to Succeed in The Ivy League Connection.

I have grown so much as an individual through my Women and Leadership course. I was encouraged by the emotional support of my fellow classmates to aspire to do my best. I have become comfortable with the uncomfortable and I am excited to display my new sense of self. In class when I gave my opinion, I saw nothing but nonjudgmental expressions, and their sincerity is a major contributor to my growth as an individual. Additionally I have developed more confidence in myself through my interactions in class.

Through the Women and Leadership course, I was able to learn how to become a better leader. I also learned about negative messages that surround us in our society. The first workshop forced me to acknowledge my leadership style and weaknesses. I know that I must channel my weaker leadership styles to be the best leader I can be. Additionally, I discovered how I could improve as a leader. In one of the workshops, an advisor encouraged the South leaders, which I am, to take charge and I became extremely apprehensive about doing so. My classmates were encouraging when the South leaders had to step forward. From that experience, I learned that I can improve my leadership abilities by being confident and adopting different leadership styles if necessary. 

I have also grown as a result of the social aspect of my experience. The freedom I experienced at Brown permitted me to develop my time management skills. At times I would have to decline an invitation in order to finish my Action Plan. Although I was initially hesitant about doing so, I knew I had to complete my priorities.

From my experience, my time at Brown has been life altering! I have a better idea of what I will experience at college. Additionally, I will definitely apply to a few universities on the East Coast when I am a senior.

For me this program has changed my perspective of life, and I would love for other students to have the same experience.

I am so grateful for what the Ivy League Connection has given me! The Ivy League Connection has given me hope that I can positively impact my community.

I will forever be grateful for all the people associated with the Ivy League Connection. They have given me this extraordinary opportunity to attend a class at an Ivy League and to open my mind to new possibilities.

It Does Not End Here

My Brown experience is over. I have completed my program, and returned home. The beautiful time on the Brown campus is over for me this summer.

The program may be over, but my memories will always remain. I have gained more in the past 2 weeks than I have in my lifetime.  I may be done with my course at Brown, but I am not done with my learning. This experienced has made me more open and aware of the world around me. I know I will never forget all the lessons I have learned at Brown. I will never forget all the wisdom I gained from the Women and Leadership course. I will never forget to question the things around me, rather than simply live blindly. Along with all the things I have learned from the course, I will never forget all the lessons I have learned from the people I have met. As Dean Almandrez told us, "You will learn more from each other than you could ever learn from me.".
This has proven true for me. I have learned so much more about myself as a leader and as a person from the people I have met on this trip, than I have ever learned before. I made connections with people that I will never forget and made friends with people that I would have otherwise never considered talking to. I know I have made lasting connections with others which will long outlive this Brown experience. I learned how to interact with others from different backgrounds and opinions than me and how to embrace that difference. This experience has made molded me into a better person and I will always be grateful to everyone for that.

The objectification of women shown through superheros posed as Wonder Woman
This learning has benefited me in so many ways, that I cannot help but share what I have learned. The learning cannot stop with me. I will not allow myself to be the last link in this learning experience. I will share all of my experiences with those around me. I will tell others to question what they are told, and to live with the passionate curiosity that Brown so greatly endorses.  I will also encourage others after me to take the initiative to apply to the Ivy League Connection, because it is an amazing experience that no one should neglect. This opportunity was life altering and I would encourage anyone who wants to be more open eyed to apply. I hope to encourage more people to not only apply to this program, but in general, to push their comfort zone and reach for the higher education they deserve.

I also will not let my own passions die. I will execute my action plan and share my passions with those around me. I hope to inspire another person to live their passion and push their limits. I will not let the passion of life stay within me.

My Empty Room
I think back to the last day at Brown. So many memories. I remember how sad I was as I packed up my dorm room that morning, seeing it plain again. I had erased myself from the room. I knew I had not erased myself from Brown however. I remember the last day in class with all of the wonderful people I had met and crying as we all shared our favorite memories and the reasons why this was one of the best experience of our lives. I remember hugging all 24 girls of my class as we split ways. It was sad to be leaving Brown behind, but I knew that our experiences would not end there. 

I think back to the action plan presentations. I remember the emotion I felt as I stood in front of strangers and shared my personal passions. I remember how frightened I had been of rejection. I also remember how free I felt when I realized no one was going to judge me. As I walked away from the crowd of people at Brown, as we rushed off to the airport, I remember feeling peaceful with the situation. I knew I would hear again of the people I had met. I was also excited for the adventures to come with the new knowledge I had gained. When we met with some girls from the Leadership Institute, I knew that I was not severing my Brown ties, only elongating them. 

My Women and Leadership experiences did not end when I left Brown. I will always remember what I have learned; and I will continue to learn throughout my life. My learning does not end here.

The Women and Leadership Family

Monday, August 5, 2013

I Can Cast a Stone Across the Waters to Create Many Ripples

I was saddened as I walked through the John Nicholas Brown gates and looked back at the congregation of students who were saying goodbye. I only glanced back momentarily and soon looked forward, so that I could catch up with the others. I knew I had to look forward because I must use my wonderful memories as a boost for future experiences.  

Leaving Brown 
Looking back at the congregation of students
In the morning session we had a discussion about our opinions and comments about the class. It was so emotional that Dean Almandrez became teary eyed as well.  Each and every individual was affected by the class in their own unique way. Some students were primarily impacted by the diversity workshop or the low ropes course. The commonality between the low ropes course and the diversity workshop were that they both resulted with a stronger bond amongst the class.
Some students discussed that they were upset about returning home because they would have to face “reality.” We would have to face the endless amount of assigned homework and the monotonous school schedule. Although I am hesitant about having to deal with classwork/homework and extracurricular activities, I am looking forward to testing what I have learned in my Women and Leadership class.  

I mentioned to the class that I hoped that we would be able to see one another again. The people I met here have taught me that despite the differences in our socioeconomic backgrounds, we have some commonalities. The caliber of students who attended the Summer@Brown program displayed
My Women and Leadership Classmates 
nothing but kindness and sincerity. My goal is to stay in touch with my friends from Brown. One of my friends opted to become pen pals instead of occasional chats through Facebook. I thought it was a great idea since letters tend to be longer than the messages on Facebook. I will cherish my memories I have made with my friends at Brown.

In the afternoon we would finally present our Action Plan. My friends were practically hyperventilating at the closing session and continued to study their note cards for their Action Plan presentations. Surprisingly I remained calm, but I felt obligated to study my note cards since my friends were doing so beside me.   

When the closing session was over, I walked to the building where I would give my presentation. I walked with my friend Vera and her mother. When we separated to go to our assigned classrooms, we said our goodbyes to one another since she would have to leave immediately after her presentation to catch her flight.

I discovered that my audience consisted of only six other people, one of whom was Heidi, the TA for my class. My presentation went by like a breeze! At the end of my presentation I compared my Action Plan to a quote said by Mother Teresa, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” I received nothing but compliments for my performance. The compliments I received left me on cloud nine for the duration of the day.

I walked back to the main green with two other students who were in my classroom. I was amazed by the fact that I was continuing to meet other students during my last hour at Brown. The students who participated in the Leadership Institute congregated in front of Solomon Hall to say their goodbyes. I was able to say goodbye to a majority of my friends, but I was upset to discover that Emily, my roommate, was nowhere in sight. Fortunately I said a quick goodbye to her prior to the congregation in front of the Solomon Hall.

My dorm door. Emily and I would write where we were so that we were aware of each other's whereabouts. 
I received multiple invitations from my friends that encouraged me to inform them if I am ever in their area. Fortunately, with the aid of social networking, I will be updated on the lives of my friends. I plan to send them photos of my school and my classmates.

At the airport and on the plane, I saw two other girls who were a part of the Brown Leadership Institute. It was nice to see other Leadership Institute students again.

I still felt as if I would continue my schedule I had at Brown. During my first night back, I was extremely happy to be back in my own bed, but I slightly yearned to be back at Brown. I had an amazing time there, and I did not want it to end. 

New Knowledge, Beautiful Memories and 7 Leaders

After staying at dorm for 2 weeks, I had started to see it as a home. It was hard to think that I was leaving today. Truth can be bitter. The class was ending, I would have to say goodbye to all the friends, leader fellows, Dean Almandrez and Brown University. 

Our class was starting one hour late so I thought to wake up late as well. After waking up at 8:00 AM, I got ready and packed few of the things. Ms. Neal was picking up our things at 8:30 AM so I started to carry my luggage downstairs. All of us were ready with our luggage and we carefully placed them inside the van. We were leaving for breakfast but I wanted to go back to dorm for last time. I had forgotten to pack the fan my roommate had lent me on the first day. Since, she had already left for the class I left a note for her near the fan. I looked around my dorm and saw it looked exactly like how it had been the first day, everything was empty.
It was sad to leave this room
After the breakfast with few of the classmates, we headed to class. Dean Almandrez asked us to write the new vocabulary and the skills we had learnt from the class. There was already plenty of vocabulary and skills on the board written by my classmates so I added tally mark next to them.

Now was the time for our last activity. We all made a circle. When Dean Almandrez asked us to close our eyes, I understood it was the same game we had played with my RA. Only 4 of the people tapped by Dean Almandrez got to open their eyes and stand in the middle in the beginning. Dean would say, “touch someone if” and we had to tap those whom the statement applied to. Everyone would eventually get chance to tap someone. When I was sitting, I got taps on some of the unexpected statements and I felt good. During the middle of the game, I started getting emotional and there were some reasons behind that; I was content that my classmates thought of me in that way and I was sad that I was leaving this wonderful class. 

After the activity, we started giving feedback. After listening to all these amazing people, all I could do was let tears roll down my cheeks. I tried my best to control but looking at all the faces and thinking that I would probably never see them, made me sad. We all told each other that we would keep in touch via Facebook. After our group hug, we wished each other luck and said goodbyes. I went up to Dean Almandrez, thanked her for everything and hugged her. In these 2 weeks, she had encouraged me and helped me gain self-confidence. I remember telling her that I was bad at public speaking and I am scared but she told me she had confidence on me and she can already picture me a leader.

With Dean Almandrez

Saying goodbyes had been the hardest part for me that day and I thought public speaking was no longer difficult. We were separated in groups and I went to my assigned room for my speech. There we seven of us who were presenting, 4 parents and 1 leader fellows. I was nervous but I tried my best to hide that. After seeing couple of speech from other students, I raised my hand to go up there. Even though, I had written my speech in paper, I thought it would be best not to look at it. Reading off the paper would not sound like a speech and I would not be able to make eye contact either. I had made sure my speech would not be too much informative and there were room for questions too. I did get some questions from parents and some were similar to one from the practice speech we had done on Thursday. I was proud of myself after the speech. We went to Main Green and waved goodbyes again. Once again, I hugged Dean Almandrez, Sarah Day and Heidi.

Ruchi, Alicia, Heidi, Crystal and I (Left to right)
As we pass that gate, looking back at Leadership Institute 

I and some other cohorts turned in the keys. Then, we headed for airport with new knowledge, beautiful memories and 7 leaders. I was back at California after the long plane ride. All my family were there and it was good to see all of them after 2 weeks. After I got home, I was not very sleepy so I logged into my Facebook account, made a group called “Women and Leadership Family 2013” and added some of those who were in my friends list and invited others through email.
Women & Leadership Family (2013)

Home Again, Home Again

Friday felt very surreal. As I woke up, I realized it would be the last time I stepped out of my dorm room bed. I looked over at Ariana, my roommate, and realized I wouldn't be rooming with her anymore.

After getting over this initial sadness, Ariana went off to her class and I stayed behind to finish packing. Luckily, my class started an hour later on Friday so I had plenty of time to pack up my belongings. At 8:30, Ms. Neal texted to say she was downstairs and ready to take our bags. I did one final sweep of my side of the dorm room to make sure I hadn't forgotten anything and then closed the door for the last time.

Getting down the dorm stairs with my luggage was quite an adventure. Right away I decided that, rather than take two trips up and down the stairs, I would attempt to carry everything down at once. So there I was, at the top of the stairs, with my giant backpack, my computer bag, and my 45 pound suitcase, ready to go. About halfway down, after running over my feet with the suitcase several times, I began to regret this decision to carry everything down at once. Luckily, I made it down the stairs without any fatal injuries and met Ms. Neal and my other cohorts outside of Perkins Hall. With our luggage in Ms. Neal's van, we didn't have to worry about trying to move out later or carrying around a bunch of stuff. 

Elia and I had a nice breakfast at a cafe then walked over to our class. This final day of class was spent reflecting. Dean Almandrez had us write terms and skills that we had learned and I was surprised at the length of the list. Although I knew I had learned all those, I was still baffled that all this could be learned and digested in two weeks. 

Then, we did an activity where we sat in a circle and closed our eyes. Dean Almandrez would silently tap a few people to open their eyes and go to the middle of the circle. Next, Dean Almandrez read out statements such as: "Touch someone who has made you feel good about yourself." or "Touch someone who inspires you." and the people in the middle of the circle would go around and tap the people they thought rang true to the statement. Everyone had their turn to go up and tap people. I believe the point of this game was so you could anonymously recognize someone for something they did that impacted you. It's not always easy to go up to someone and say, "Hey, you made me feel good about myself" and this game allowed me to do that.

We spent our last portion of class sharing good memories from these past two weeks. It got really emotional and the things people were saying were really touching. We'd grown so close in the past two weeks, basically like sisters, and I could tell we were all sad to face the reality that we would no longer wake up and see each other every day. 

Women & Leadership class!
During lunch, my nerves about my Action Plan presentation skyrocketed. Luckily, Julia was there to assure me that everything would be fine and she even let me practice my presentation to her a few times. After lunch, all the students of the Leadership Institute gathered in an auditorium. The staff and teachers were able to say a few words and then we watched a slideshow of pictures from the week. And then, it was time to present.

The presentations were much less scary than I'd imagined. We all broke up into separate groups and went into separate classrooms. There were six students in my classroom (one of them from my Women and Leadership class) and four family members. With this group size, I felt like I could just talk directly do them, so I was able to loosen up while presenting. 

With a successful presentation behind me, I was able to relax and say my goodbyes. 

Dean Almandrez!

Heidi, one of my TAs!

Goodbye, Brown.
The first flight to Chicago was quick and easy. I sat next to Julia who made fun of my music the whole time but she was also listening to my music the whole time, so I suspect she was secretly enjoying the music. On the second flight I sat next to Crystal. We talked a lot for the first couple of hours then attempted to nap. Planes are probably the most uncomfortable places to sleep so I only fell asleep for ten minutes here and there.

Finally, our plane landed and we made our way to baggage claim where our families were waiting for us. Seeing my mom after three weeks away was so great and I'd missed her so much. We collected my bags, said goodbye to my cohorts, and made our way home.