Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Traditions Behind the Van Wickle Gates

Since June 18, 1901, the iconic Van Wickle Gates serve as a symbol for the prestigious Brown University and its esteemed history. 
The Van Wickle Gates have a pair of center gates and a smaller gate on each side. The smaller gates remain open throughout the year, however the central gates are open only twice a year. 

The central gates are first open in the beginning of the academic year during the Convocation, when first-year students ceremoniously enter the campus and are welcomed by the Brown community. The last time the gates are open in the academic year is on the Commencement Day, when a traditional procession of graduating seniors, led by members of the Brown community and the college band and supported by family and friends, bid farewell to Brown University.  

According to a very famous superstition equated with the Van Wickle Gates, any Brown student who passes through the gates more than twice will not graduate and will be doomed with bad luck. 

Each year, the Van Wickle Gates open inward to embrace and educate a diverse student body and open outwards to release a group of great individuals to embark on successful journeys.

I am very excited to personally see the symbolic Van Wickle Gates in my Ivy League Connection journey. 
Maybe this will be me some day

Thursday, May 21, 2015

A Wonderful Evening at the School Board Meeting

Wednesday around 4:45 PM, I arrived home from a long day at school and robotics. I greeted my parents and helped my dad pick his outfit for the School Board meeting that was held at Lavonya DeJean Middle School. I couldn't wait to get there! 

Shortly after that we said our good byes to my mom and sister who also had an important presentation to attend. She was going to be presented with a scholarship! She was very excited just like me. We got in my dad's truck and made our way to Lavonya. It didn't take as long to get there.

After we struggled with parking for a short while, we made our way to were the meeting was going to take place. Once we walked in, we were surprised by how many people actually attended. I said hi to the girls from my school as well as some other ILCers that I had never met before. 

Not so long after our chaperon, Tiffani Neal, pulled us, the Brown cohort, away to explain how the rest of the presentation was going to go. She told us the order in which she would introduce us. Tiffani is doing a really good job of learning our names. I personally am horrible at learning names but then again, I can't remember what I had for breakfast today. She also briefly explained what she was going to say in her speech. After we were done, we went back inside. 

We sat towards the middle. Everything else was extremely full! Thankfully we all got to sit together. Mahi, Komal and I talked about how excited for the summer we were and wondered how the evening would unfold. 

The School Board addressed some issues and the called up DeAnza High to recognize their hard work and dedication. The teachers gave short speeches and their stories of how they helped the school get to where it is today. The it was time for the Ivy League to go up. They called each cohort individually. The chaperon introduced the cohort, gave a small speech and turned it over to a designated student that would give another speech.

When they called up the Brown cohort, we made our way to the front of the room and with great pride help up the Brown banner. After all the introductions and the chaperon's speech it was Cindy's turn to give the student prospective of attending Brown. I have to say, she expressed herself beautifully and clearly. She articulated how we all felt about this wonderful opportunity and delivered it to the School Board in a relaxed way.  

After all the cohorts went up, we made our way to the gym where Don had prepped chairs and table cloths for the perfect picture. Thanks to his directions we were able to quickly arrange ourselves in a orderly manner. He skillfully snapped a couple dozen photos and dismissed us.

This was a wonderful experience and it made me appreciate the opportunity I have even more. I want to thank the School Board, the sponsors, the chaperons, and everyone that makes this possible. Thanks to you guys, we have this incredible opportunity that will be life changing. Again, thank you for all your hard work and dedication!
Don's master piece.

The Honoring And Gratifying School Board Meeting

As I heard the garage door open, I frantically ran downstairs to hurry my parents, who had just arrived from work, to get ready for the School Board Meeting. Once my parents got ready for the exciting event, we departed for Lovonya DeJean Middle School.

Once I entered the hall of the school, I enthusiastically walked into a cluster of ILCers to meet and greet my friends and Tiffani, my cohort chaperone. I started chatting with Mahi and Esme about our excitement for the summer. 

Soon Tiffani instructed my cohort to huddle near the gymnasium to discuss the events that will take place while representing the Ivy League Connection and Brown University in front of the School Board. We rehearsed the procedure of how we will line up, in what order we will stand, and how Tiffani will introduce each of us, our schools, our grades, and our programs. She then handed out prestigious Ivy League Connection certificates enveloped in gold-bordered black folders to each of us. Once we finished narrating our plan, we re entered the hall and took seats. While waiting for the meeting to begin, I conversed with Mahi and Diana. 

The School Board began the meeting by addressing multiple issues. Finally, after waiting a while, the School Board introduced the Ivy League Connection. The hall swelled with applause and prideful emotions. 

One by one the cohort of each institute was invited to come to the front of the hall and present themselves to the school board. The chaperone of each cohort introduced themselves, the ILCers, and the visitation sites. The chosen ILCers spoke about how thankful they are for the phenomenal opportunity the Ivy League Connection has awarded each of us, the anticipations they have regarding their everlasting ILC experience, and how they wish to contribute back to their community from the experiences they gain in the East Coast. 

Soon, we were called up. Tiffani beautifully represented our group and each of us. Cindy gave a wonderful speech and spoke about the gratification and excitement that we all share about our ILC journey.

My cohort from left to right: Wendy, Mahi, me, Gabrielle, Esme, Erin, Diana, Cindy, and Tiffani. 
Cindy speaking from the heart.
Don spoke to the School Board regarding ILC and acknowledged those that have made this program possible since the last ten years. The sponsors were honored and thanked for their continued support of the Ivy League Connection.

The sponsors that make the Ivy League Connection possible. 
Soon Michelle Croda, an ILC alum, was invited to share her experience. Her awe-inspiring experience with the ILC and how it changed her life and lead her towards unceasing success left me inspired and exhilarated.

After this, we all headed towards the gymnasium to take the 2015 ILC group picture. Don positioned the ILCers and parents in symmetry. Then the time came for Don to take countless pictures. 

After the event ended, I headed out of Lovonya DeJean Middle School in immense gratitude to the Ivy League Connection and all of its contributors and excitement for the summer. 

No Boredom at the Board Meeting!

About half an hour before that school board meeting, I was on the stage of El Cerrito High School discussing a costume related problem for our upcoming dance show. At 5:25, I raised my hand and reminded my teacher that I had to leave before the end of rehearsal. Still in costume, I raced into the dressing room to change into my green and black patterned dress. I flung my costumes onto hangers and racks, slipped my feet into my black ballet flats, and flew down the hallway, hoping for punctuality. 

Walking into the auditorium of Lovonya DeJean Middle School, I recognized many faces from the I.L.C. blogging tutorial. I conversed shortly with my sophomore year English teacher, Ms. Sanders. I was also able to say hello to University of Chicago cohort's chaperone, Alana Scott, who I knew from past theater activities.  

The Brown cohort gathered in the chilly air outside the auditorium for a brief minute to run through name pronunciation and speaker order, but also to receive fancy recognition certificates. 

As the meeting began, I found myself thinking about the school district's size, and the amount of people who work for it. Every person in the room cared about education. Not just the board members, teachers, students or parents, though. Whether the audience member was there out of duty, complaint, or support, he or she had the interest to come and be active in community education.

Many of the students that gave speeches said similar things: The Ivy League Connection is a fantastic opportunity to learn, to become confident, to become better thinkers. I think every participant student, including myself, feels that way. Just listening to alum Michelle Croda read about her experience in the Women and Leadership Course gave me goosebumps. I am excited and ready to hopefully have as meaningful an experience. 

Thank you to every person who makes this program possible. It means a lot that I am able to participate in it.     


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A Joyful Day at the School Board Meeting

Every time there is an event I am always concerned that I will not arrive on time. Surprisingly, I am always one of the first ones to arrive. Once I arrived to the school board meeting, Don was getting all the flags ready. Since I was the first one from the Brown Cohort, I was honored to choose which flag we were going to utilize. Everyone from the Ivy League Connection started arriving and as we were waiting for the meeting to start, we all mingled for about 30 minutes.

When I think back on the school board meeting all I remember is the feeling of being proud of myself and everyone around me. One of the speeches given by an alum really made me think through how beneficial The Ivy League Connection will be for my future. This is all just a start of a huge journey and I could not be any more grateful to have been chosen to be part of this. It was great to have seen all the sponsors up close, the speeches given by some of the members of the ILC, the great things the chaperons had to say, the inspiring words Don Gosney mentioned, and everyone else representing the ILC.

One of the speeches given in the school board meeting was brought to my attention and really inspired me. As a previous attendant of the Brown University Women and Leadership program was giving her speech, I felt as if many things she mentioned related to me. Her words made me feel more confident about what the future has to offer. From all her failures to triumphs and getting accepted to many universities. Her speech was extremely inspiring and made me feel as if I should never give up no matter how many times I fail. There will always be opportunities to success if I keep trying and do not give up.

When there was a recess we all headed over the to gymnasium of the school. This is where Don took about 1,000 pictures(not literally) of all the students, chaperons, and parents. After long hours of sitting down and clapping for others, I could really say that I enjoyed being there. The certificate given to us, and the people clapping, made me feel even more overjoyed for everything that will be coming up.
The Perfect Picture

ILC & the School Board Meeting.

I was much more relaxed prior to the meeting, as opposed to the dinner. This was perhaps due to the fact that I would not be speaking later on. After arriving at Lovonya DeJean Middle School with my mother I quickly found familiar faces in the crowd. I got to talk with my friend Helen who will be attending Cornell over the summer and Esme and Wendy from my cohort. We met up with our chaperone Tiffani Neal who led us outside to go over a few things.

Lovonya has a great campus, and the weather was quite nice today. We all clarified the pronunciations of our names and went over what order we would be introduced to the school board in. Tiffani was very nice, and I am truly looking forward to traveling to the East Coast with her as our chaperone. After returning to the Gym where the meeting was being held we all took our seats.

The school board went over the agenda of the evening and celebrated DeAnza High School for their growth and achievements. Following a series of wonderful speeches it was the ILC's turn. The program was introduced and one by one the cohorts went up to the front of the stage and were recognized individually. I talked a little with Komal and Diana and found myself having fun.

Soon it was time for the Brown cohort to head to the front of the room. Tiffani gave a great speech about our cohort and what we were expecting to do over the summer. I was ecstatic to learn we would be touring Harvard, Yale, and Wellesley College. We were introduced and it was time for Cindy to give her speech. She did a fantastic job, her speech was clear, concise, and well thought out!

The Brown Cohort

After all the cohorts had been introduced Don said a few words, thanking everyone who contributed to the program and asking all of the sponsors to stand up and be recognized for supporting the ILC. Michelle Croda, an ILC alum who attended the Women and Leadership program we will be embarking upon this summer gave a wonderful speech. She spoke about how her failures turned her into the person she is today, and how much the program impacted her. Michelle's words really made me think about my own experiences as a prospective college student.

Don then led all of the chaperones, parents, and ILC'rs away for photographs. We were all arranged and Don proceeded to snap around two dozen photos of us. Overall, it was a very successful evening and I am more excited than ever for what the summer will bring.

The Ivy League Connection 2015

Giving Thanks to All who Contributed at the School Board Meeting

I was so anxious. Once again, I didn't prepare my outfit. It took me about an hour and a half to get ready. My parents have a history of always arriving tardy; especially my mother. I arrived at about  5:40. When I got there, I was warmly welcomed by other ILCers. It was lovely to mingle with the other kids traveling to the east coast like me.

I spoke with Esme and Mahi from my cohort at first then girls from different cohorts joined us. I spoke to Cindy from my cohort after as well which led me to talk to my friend Stephen from the Cornell cohort. It was so much fun to talk to everyone. I had a marvelous time because of that.

When all the Brown cohort gathered, our chaperone Tiffani took us outside and gave us our certificates. We went over name pronunciations and practiced lining up. I was nervous when it was our turn to go and face the school board members. There was nothing to be nervous about however. It ran smoothly.

 Well what can I say? I still cannot believe that this is real. Is this even happening? This summer I will not only take a course at Brown University but I will get the chance to visit Yale and Harvard! I'm honestly too excited.

Today I got the chance to meet everyone who contributed in the making of The Ivy League Connection. I can't thank them enough for making dreams into realities. This program will impact our futures greatly.

The speech that Michelle Croda gave encouraged me to never give up. Success is not getting everything right the first time, success is falling but standing back up. She is such an inspiration to me. I relate to her in many ways. I will forever be grateful of this opportunity.

Looking at the camera

Proudly Recognized

From secondhand accounts, I had previously been led to believe that school board meetings were synonymous with the concept of boredom. This seemed probable. What could I -- a teenage girl -- possibly have to do with grown-up, big-vocabulary board meetings? Now that I am a part of the Ivy League Connection, the answer is: a lot. Tonight there was an emphasis on recognition and acknowledgment. This was our first step, as ILCers, as representing this prestigious program as one cohesive unit. Tonight, we were able to stand in front of the WCCUSD School Board Members and brief them on our exciting opportunity to be traveling to the east coast this summer.

At approximately 5:40, I arrived at DeJean Middle School to be met by a few other ILC students who had arrived already. I made small talk with those I hadn't got to know very well yet, and I got caught up with familiar faces. I got to make conversation with a couple of my teachers as well, as this board meeting was also being held to recognize my school, De Anza, as a Gold Ribbon school. It was an honorable opportunity to be a part of two major things in my community: De Anza and the Ivy League Connection.

Several minutes before the meeting had officially commenced, Tiffani Neal, our lovely chaperone, brought us all outside to discuss what the routine was going to look like. After assuring that she could pronounce everyone's name accurately and giving us each our certificates of recognition, we shuffled back to the main hall where the board meeting was taking place.

The sits were filled to the brim as many of those in our community had gathered to watch this evening unfold, to acknowledge the milestones the West Contra Costa County had reached. Others were there in order to protest the cuts against adult education in the district. The board members were seated in a semicircle at the far front of the hall on an elevated level, in front of charcoal black drapes. 

After a quick roll call and some introductions, the board announced De Anza High School for its prestigious award. Then the introduction of the Ivy League Connection followed. One by one, each cohort walked to the front of the room to explain where they were going, where they would visit, ho would be going, and what they would be studying. Each cohort included a speaker who addressed the board via a speech.
Representing Brown University in front of the WCCUSD board members.

When Brown University was called up, each of the ladies in my group stood up and walked to face the board members. As we were acknowledged by name, I began reciting and exercising in my head what I was going to say. Tonight, I would be addressing the board members through an impromptu speech. I would like to personally give recognition to Mahi, because now I knew what it felt like for her before she went up to give a speech at the dinner a few weeks ago. Mahi, we survived.

As I addressed the board members, I remembered to smile at them and sustain eye contact. When I spoke, I simply expressed how this privilege was going to expand my horizons and open new doors. I acknowledged those who contributed to the chance for each of us to head east this summer. I will admit that I was quite nervous, and during the middle of my speech I could feel my left leg quivering slightly. Once I said what I had to say, I thanked them and sat back down with the rest of my cohort.

After Don and Michelle Croda, an ILC alum, had both spoken, the Ivy League Connection was directed to head to the school's gym for our photos. Don, with his usual efficiency and precise directions, made it possible so that we were able to snap about two dozen pictures in no time.

After tonight, I can definitely understand what I -- a teenage girl -- could possibly have to do with a boring school meeting. Tonight the label of "a teenage girl" was not for me. Tonight, I was a young adult representing a prestigious program, being able to personally address some important people. Tonight, we were proudly recognized.
Don's finished masterpiece!

Introductions, Recognitions, Photos, and So Much More

Today I had a busy day that ended with an even crazier school board meeting. We were expected to all meet at Dejean Middle School at 6 sharp. Don warned us that there would be many teachers attending the meeting so parking might be difficult. In preparation for this my mother and I left our house at 5:15 giving us lots of time to find parking.

As soon as we arrived I found the entire ILC group. This was fun because we had never all had the chance to be together before. I recognized a lot of people from my school and it was a good chance to talk to all my fellow peers. After socializing as an entire ILC group we broke up and formed smaller groups with our cohorts. It was fun to catch up with my fellow brown members and our chaperone, Tiffani Neal, as we were waiting for the meeting to begin. Tiffani went over name pronunciation and the order that we should stand in to present for the school board.

The Audience at the School Board Meeting
As we reentered the room I was shocked to see that almost all of the chairs were filled. There seemed to be all types of people present. I saw entire families, teachers, and other community members. We found a row of seats all together and sat down waiting for the meeting to begin. Directly in front of us was a group of people protesting to continue the funding of adult school in our district. They were holding signs in all different languages to explain how important adult school is for language learning skills and general success. There were also many groups of teachers around the room. These teachers were fighting for raises.

The room quickly quieted as the meeting began. It started with the Pledge of Allegiance, introductions, and a few short speeches from the school board members and two student representatives who were joining the meeting. The school board members dealt with a few business matters and then they went on to the awards and recognition section.

DeAnza high school was the first group to be recognized. They won the 2015 California Ribbon Schools Award. It was a pleasure to hear from some of the teachers and students who have worked so hard to make DeAnza deserving of this award. They all showed so much hard work and perseverance in the development of their school.
Don and His Masterpiece 

After we had heard from the DeAnza group it was time for all the ILC cohorts to get recognized. Each cohort was sent up to the front separately. The chaperones explained our trips and the schools that we would be visiting while we are back east. Then they would introduce each student, their grade, where they go to school, and what class they are taking this summer. One student from each cohort stood up and spoke for the group. I really enjoyed listening to all of the speakers who articulated all of our thoughts and feeling so well. I want to especially thank Cindy Reyes for doing an amazing job speaking for all of us Brown ladies.

The ILC Students Waiting for Pictures
As soon as the recognitions were finished we heard an amazing speech from a past ILC member and Don thanked all of the sponsors and individuals who make the program possible. As soon as all the speeches were finished we all crowded out of the room and into the gym. It was time for everybody's favorite part, the group picture.  

Don, the photography expert, had a well thought out plan ready for us. He arranged all us ILC students by height and gender then directed us to our specified spots. As soon as we were in place the chaperones and parents were allowed to crowd in behind us. The actual taking of photos went very quickly and we all said our goodbyes and left.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Wonderful Night at One Market

I hurriedly went in the car. We, by no means, could be late. My father drove to BART as if we were bring chased by a group of lunatics. Fortunately, we made it just in time! We were even a bit early. Don talked for a brief moment about what to expect and what was expected of us. Without much delays we made our way to the escalators to the second floor. Of course, there had to be small problems with some of the boarding passes but nothing too major. 
El Cerrito Plaza BART outside view from the second floor.

Once we got to the second floor, I talked with some of the girls and their parents too. Everyone is really nice. I'm sure we will become great friends.

Surprisingly, when BART got there, it wasn't full like it usually is. Everyone got a seat. Most of us even sat together and got to mingle for a while. The way there was pretty much a piece of cake. I wish I could say the same thing about the way back!

When we finally arrived at our final stop, we were greeted with the beautiful tall buildings in San Francisco. I couldn't help but look up at the awe striking architecture. Our whole group managed to stay together and make it to what I can only describe as an exquisite restaurant. One Market is a very elegant restaurant that I assure you would leave you wanting to go back.

Once we walked in we started to talk with the sponsors and alums. Everyone was very nice and charismatic. They almost had me convinced that Brown was my dream university! 

On my table, I had the pleasure of sitting with Alice Pinero, Simon Hong, Mahi and her mother. Mahi totally nailed the speech. I completely agree with her. This experience will be so beneficial to all of us in many ways. Throughout the dinner, we had very meaningful conversations. Mahi's mother told us about a project in Afghanistan that she was a part of. This really made me think of how I can make the world a better place just like Mahi and her mother are doing. We also talked about Brown and it's many opportunities over a delicious plate of short ribs.
Brown cohort, sponsors and alums
After we ate and conversed it was time for pictures! Don being the great photographer he is took some great pictures of the cohort, sponsors and alums.

After we took the pictures, we said our goodbyes and we couldn't forget about the pretty flowers, of course. Fringed tulips were the starts of the bouquet. Everyone was talking about them. Over all the dinner was wonderful and the company was even better.