As I settle back into my home back at the Bay, I know that I am a changed person after these last 2 weeks and a half on the East Coast. From experiencing a college life at one of the most prestigious Ivy Leagues in the country, to meeting an incredibly diverse group of people who I had grown to adore and admire, to touring gorgeous colleges along with their encompassing cities, it was an incredible time in the East Coast.
I remember my first night at the Pre-College program, feeling devastated to be all alone so far from my parents and my home. Our cohort had arrived early, so there was barely anyone in Perkins Hall. All alone, roommate-less, in a dark dorm room that first night, feeling homesick and scared. How was I going to last two whole weeks in this place? My worries were immediately diminished that next day, as I got to know my cohort better as well as experience Brown University.
Then came my course. Women & Leadership was nothing like I had expected. Prior to my trip, I was imagining a large lecture hall with a monotonous instructor giving only lectures. However, on that first day of class, everything I had previously expected proved to be wildly inaccurate. From the start of class, where we first started having our discussion-based learning, I realized I was going to be surrounded by about 20 ambitious, intelligent, and amazing young women. I was constantly amazed by the atmosphere of the class and how engaged each girl was. In my school, it's essentially a chore to go to your classes, while here, each person chose to be here, and was so willing to learn. Like Dean Almandrez said, it was not the pursuit of happiness, but the happiness of pursuit. Each young woman in that class was pursuing the gift of knowledge.
The workshops only further fortified my love for the Leadership Institute, where I learned about different leading styles and which style I most related to. These workshops also covered other subjects, such as diversity within ourselves, and how our identities relate to the real world and how we and other people perceive us. I was able to learn so much about myself, my classmates, and our society in those workshops. That gift of learning was not just limited to our classroom, but found its way into other parts of my life, when discussing the topics with friends while studying, eating, or simply hanging out in the main green.
Our last day of class was something of a chaotic whirlwind. From giving our final Action Plan presentations to saying goodbye to our friends, to going to a new state entirely. It was an incredibly emotional day, beginning with our last Women & Leadership session. It was a day to recognize how far we had come as well as how the program had impacted us.
After the Pre-College program, our classroom time had ended, but the learning had not. We visited the most prestigious colleges in the U.S., including the renowned Harvard, the gorgeous Yale, and the unique Wellesley. The tours gave me a personal, deeper familiarity with the colleges. Something I've always worried about is selecting a college but regretting it because I had not been able to see it or experience it first-hand.
These last two weeks were an incredible adventure the whole way through. I created friendships I know will last and learned things I know I will be giving back to my community. I gained so much from just these two weeks, including the perspectives of people from all over the world, a more profound knowledge of social constructs, what I want in a college, and countless more.