Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Summer That Changed My Life

Traveling to the the East Coast for the first time to possibly one of the smallest states was questionable. Not only was it my first time travelling to the opposite side of the United States, but also travelling a long distance and being away from my family for a three week period. 

I wasn't scared or too nervous to be gone, but felt more inquisitive and curious to know what I am getting myself into for nearly a month (25 days). What will I do if I get sick?, Who can I contact when I need help if the professor is not available, and how will I survive this heat? These were just a few of the many questions that popped into my head. 

Aside from that, I asked myself if I could handle the role of being a student, mom, and young adult. I would have to completely rely on myself other than the limited help I could receive from my peers. it was up to me to take care of myself physically and emotionally. I was up for this so-called challenge and ready to prove to everyone that students from the WCCUSD aren't just ordinary students, but extraordinary students. 

Like Dean Robin Rose said, our group of six were granted the opportunity to experience six different well-respected colleges/universities and study at one of them becasue we "earned it". We didn't pay a fortune to spend three-weeks having fun with our friends. We earned the privilege to be at Brown University through the Ivy League Connection and our demonstration of commitment and hard-work from the past eight months illustrates how earning a position in the ILC was not a simple one.

Before my arrival at Providence, Rhode Island, I pictured a very small town with minimal offerings, a lack of diversity, and a relatively dull area. That was my vision of Providence before but it has completely altered as I sit here to reflect on it now. The small town itself offers just about everything one needs if not more. Population wise, the WaterFire show and the 4th of July proved just how massive the area can get and just how many different backgrounds were represented. Growing up in a genuinely diverse place, it was comforting to see how diversity is present at a place I grew to love more and more everyday. Learning that Providence was rated the most patriotic town in the country definitely asserted the fact that Providence is not what most perceive it to be. It is a close community and Brown contributes an important part of the community.

As a person, I've discovered myself a little more and thus, was able to sort out my likes and dislikes in regards to choosing a college for me. Fitting into the campus and having a laid-back yet challenging enough atmosphere is crucial to me. I enjoy a wide-range of learning, whether or not it pertains to my major or career. Brown's curriculum supports this type of education and allows students to pick and choose their desired set of courses. Because they don't have a core curriculum, students are given the opportunity to select classes that they really want to take during the "shopping period". Both Brown and I believe that students should be able to choose what to learn and never be stuck in a class that you don't want to be in. Learning in an environment that you want to thrive in is far more important than questioning what you're learning everyday. Nevertheless, I am still learning about what suits me the best when deciding on a college. In-state or out-of-state is still a big decision for me and my family. Moreover, I've seen and liked colleges that are integrated into the community but something about the college-town also strikes me. Both have their pros and cons, and both can be beneficial in various ways.

I've gained a sense of independence throughout this trip. Even from day one of the ILC application process, I knew I needed to become more independent and acknowledged that everyone was busy. I was fortunate enough to watch my sister go through the process the previous year, and immediately understood how demanding and rewarding this program can be. I wanted to have the same if not better ILC experience than she had, and thus I applied to the Brown program. Today, I am proud to say that I am a Brown ambassador for the 2010 summer program and that I was a member of the thriving ILC. ILC will only continue to thrive through the support from the sponsors and district. Some may continue to doubt the students of WCCUSD and the ILC program, but those that were part of the program can tell everyone how grand of an experience it was, how much we were able to gain as students and as individuals, and how lucky we are to finally be exposed to the other side of the country. 

Without this trip, our minds might still be stuck in the UC system and California itself. We would never be able to see and step foot onto the territories of Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth, Boston College, Columbia, and Brown. We would never been able to experience what an Ivy League school is all about and what it has to offer. This trip has made it possible for students like me to see the webpages and brochures of prestigous universities come alive. Reading the outstanding reviews about schools can only go so far, but touring the actual campus brings a 3-D experience -- a memorable experience.

I would like to thank Mr. Charles Ramsey, Mrs. Madeline Kronenberg, Don Gosney, our sponsors, our supporters, Dean Robin Rose, Mercedes Dominiguez, Elizabeth Hart, and everyone else who believed in us and made this trip possible. Words cannot express how grateful I am to have each of you as part of my Brown 2010 experience. Thank you.

1 comment:

  1. Stephanie,

    Thank you so much for giving us some final thoughts about your eight months with the ILC. I fear you paint a rosier picture than might have been true.

    You only barely touched on the wonderful heat spell you all endured, about the “dining experience” at Brown, about the demands and commitments we required of our ILC team members, about the never ending harassment to blog and to proof your blogs. The list goes on and you were too kind, Stephanie.

    As someone who has read every single blog that you all have written and have known you even since before your interviews, I’ve seen how each and every one of you has grown as a student and as a person. It’s more than just becoming better educated, Stephanie, you’ve all matured and your character and confidence has grown. This is a good thing.

    I ask you now, Stephanie, the same question I ask all of our students when they complete this program: what now? Where will you go? What schools will you apply to? What will be the factors that determine where you apply?

    Of course, money is always the biggest factor but proximity to home often comes ahead of what the school has to offer. All so often students just can’t seem to break away from their comfort zones and want to attend school close to home.

    It’s not that that’s a bad thing but sometimes we need to be adventurous and take chances. Take chances the same way you did when you applied to be a part of the ILC and attend Brown this summer.

    What will you do, Stephanie? Keep us in the loop, won’t you?