Friday, July 18, 2014

The Program, The Experience, The Effect...

Now you all know that I had an outstanding experience on the east coast coast these past three weeks but there hasn't actually been that much light shed on the program that made this all possible. The Ivy League Connection is a scholarship program offered to students in the West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) so that they have the opportunity to see schools outside of California and experience what it's like to go to an Ivy League. Tons of outstanding students applied and thankfully I was chosen as one of the lucky 42 students who were able to go abroad these summer. There's no perfect way to express my gratitude towards the program, benefactors, and everyone else who made this possible, so I'll just have to try in this blog.

In order to give you all the best overview of my experience with the ILC program I need to start at the very beginning. Freshman year. I have to say that there isn't really much that I remember about Freshman year except for all the adjustments that I had to make AND the presentation about the ILC. I can still remember seeing Don, in his Hawaiian shirt and sandals of course, explaining to all of us about what this exclusive program actually was and what it had to offer. Thinking back on it now I can regrettably say that, at the time, I didn't really think much of the program. It was only until I started talking to some of my upperclassmen that I really started to take the program seriously. The way they spoke about it and the stories they told about there times at all these different schools just made me so excited that soon I would be able to have some of these stories as well. 

Up next was Sophomore year. I was so excited that I wouldn't have to wait any longer to be a part of this program. I applied, got an interview, but wasn't selected. I was devastated. I had planned on applying to different courses but after being denied I lost most of my will to do so. I had so many questions about why I wasn't selected and what I kept coming around to was that I just wasn't good enough. The year passed slowly as I saw some of my friends getting accepted to the program and telling me the stories about all the meetings, dinners, and events that they enjoyed so much. It hit me hard but it was the kind of reality check that I needed. I realized that the students I was going up against were the best of the best and that if I wanted to take part in this experience I would really need to improve myself. So I did.

By the time Junior year rolled around I felt completely prepared. Not just prepared for ILC but for life in general. School, sports, work, it all became so much easier. I hadn't even been accepted yet and this is the type of effect this program had on me. I got my essays done early, sent in all my forms as soon as possible, and spoke to as many ex-ILCers as possible, and when the time finally came, I was accepted. As soon as he had called my name I knew that my life was about to change, but I could have never foreseen how much it actually did.

After being accepted I thought that the hardest part was over; I couldn't have been more wrong. All the tutorials, meetings, presentations, and dinners started to occupy much of my thoughts. It seemed like every other day we were getting an email from Don telling us to do this or write that. It may have seemed hectic but Don always kept things organized, making it as easy as he possibly could on all of us. It was definitely stressful at times but it was always amazing. I never would have imagined speaking directly to our school board, meeting admissions officers, alums, or spending 3 weeks at an Ivy League School, but the ILC made it all possible. 

This is supposed to be a reflective blog but this blog would never end if I did a full recap of everything this program has done for me. Instead I'll just give you the best advice that Don ever gave me. Apply. It's only one word but if you do it can change your life. All my experiences with the Ivy League Connection have been unbelievable. The opportunities that this program gives you aren't available anywhere else. I've made tons of connections and met countless friends that I will never forget. This program IS life-changing and I will do everything in my power to let people know what it has done for me, and what it can do for you. As this is the last blog post I don't really know what a good sign off is but I just wanted to thank you all for staying with me through this amazing journey. Although... maybe we'll meet again so... jusqu'a a la prochaine fois....

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