Friday, April 23, 2010

An Amazing Night of Connections and Conversations

Last night at Jardiniere's was amazing. At first I was nervous about my speech and hastily wrote down some notes on the BART train to make sure I wouldn't blank out when I was in front of everybody. But when I got up there, I discovered that I couldn't even see my notes at all! Instead I decided to improvise, and actually started enjoying myself. It helped that everyone was introduced and didn't feel like complete strangers to me. Every time I speak in front of a large audience it gets easier. Thank you to the organizers for giving me that chance yesterday. Also, congratulations to Megan for giving a smooth, beautiful speech!

Afterwards, I talked with Cherie about how the view of women changed over time from the 1820s to the present. Dawn Atwater, sitting next to me, shared stories about having to wear a girdle because it was the social norm and even required for her job. It was so interesting to learn about this firsthand from people who had experienced it.

I also heard about someone who is on her way to doing something very different from the social norm. It turns out that Madeline Kronenberg's daughter is planning to go to university in MedellĂ­n, Colombia. That's a funny coincidence, because my dad is from Colombia and my mom studied for many years there. Ms. Kronenberg said that one positive thing that had come out of her daughter's decision was that her daughter had learned to pursue what she wanted, even though many people she told about it were shocked and thought she was a little "nutty".

I also met Peggy, who knows the joys and difficulties of being a student athlete. She encouraged me to investigate later whether or not I will be allowed to bring my figure skates to Brown so I can train on the university's ice surface during the three weeks I will be there. I would love to skate on that ice; I really hope I will be allowed to train there.

On the ride back, I had a great time talking to Sue from Pinole Valley High School. I told her what my favorite classes were and why I liked them the best.  I have so many favorite classes that I have only a vague idea of what my career path might be. She reminded me that in the future, there may be jobs that don't even exist now, and that it's good that I keep an open mind. Several people, in fact, advised me to take my time with important decisions like majors and careers, because they know the full consequences of not thinking twice.

Everyone that I talked to assured me that I would love Brown. Every time I attend an event with the Ivy League Connection, I feel more lucky and grateful that I can go through with the program. Thank you very much to everyone who made this dinner possible. It's just amazing to know that people care about us and want us to experience the best things life has to offer. Thank you for the opportunity to network and make connections with alums, staff, parents, students, and other contributors to the program. I hope everyone enjoyed this night as much as I did!

P. S. About a week ago, several ILC students, including myself, attended a college admissions information session led by Ms. Sue Kim! We received a binder that contains all the information, recommendations, and requirements related to going to college. She let us know that she will be here to help us throughout the college admissions process and encouraged us to set up individual meetings. I am so happy that I will have a priceless resource in the dedication and knowledge of Ms. Kim, in addition to the great counseling and College-Career Center staff at El Cerrito HS.

P. P. S. I apologize for not always remembering people's full names or their correct pronunciations. I met so many people yesterday that it was hard to keep the names all matched up in my head. Even if I don't remember your name correctly at the moment, I still remember the conversations we had and the wonderful night we shared. Hopefully we will be able to cement the initial connections that we made yesterday evening.


  1. Irene,

    When you step outside the box and challenge your assumptions you see the world in a different light. The world has a lot of opportunities if you are willing to seize the moment. The Ivy League Connection is just that, about connections. We want you to thrive and motivate yourself to learning about what exists out in the community.

    Too often our students fail to grasp what is being offered, but rather choose to chart a path based on what their friends are doing and what they see around them. Unfortunately, our district lacks resources and the dominant number of students never see the engaging and vibrant world. The ILC wants to give deserving students an opportunity to see what is possible.

    Yes, we would love to expand the program and expose others to the "Peggy's of the world", but this is not possible. What is possible is what you are doing by sharig your views on this blog and discussing what you are learning with students at your school.

    The sponsors and the volunteers biggest frustration with our students is their unwillingness to share this experience with other students at the school. We are hoping that students will take their friends aside and say to them that they are missing out by not being part of the Ivy League Connection.

    We need all of you to be motivated and to engage like minded students and direct them our way. Yes, the Ivy League Connection is a great program and you are seeing the benefits of being an ACTIVE member of the group. Please note that I capitalized active. This is because you have been a great contributor to the program.

    Remember we are watching people's actions, behaviors and attitude. The Ivy League Connectino makes differences in people's lives and can give you a leg up if you fully engage and "buy in to our concepts". You have done so thus far.

    Please continue to work with our College Consultant Sue Kim who is a marvelous resource. Sue Kim provides a reality check to our program participants and they see first hand how daunting the college application process is and how competitive it is to get accepted to a "highly selective college or university"

    Irene, thanks again for your insightful post. You are at the front of the line because you truly commit to our philosophy.

    Have a great day.

    Charles T. Ramsey, Esq.
    School Board Member
    West Contra Costa
    Unified School District

  2. Thank you so much! I love being active in the Ivy League Connection.

    As a matter of fact, I have been talking to my classmates and peers at my high school about the ILC. Several people I have talked to have expressed serious interest in participating; I told them who to talk to (Ms. O'Brien) and what to expect in general. It literally puts a smile on my face to see that my fellow students are thinking about great possibilities they never would have considered before.