Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Since many of the girls already talked about what we did in class today, I just wanted to share an event held for the people in my hall.

This evening, my RA, Sophia, set up an ice cream social for the girls on my floor. Not only did she put together this
optional event to help us socialize and know more about each other, but she also turned it into a Q and A about interviewing. I'm not sure if the other RAs here at Brown plan functions like these, but I'm glad mine does! Just like the college Q and A I attended last week with Meuy and Mercedes, I was given much advice about interviewing whether it's for a job or college admission. Sophia even did a mock interview with another RA and then we analyzed the strong and weak aspects. Some of the pointers our group was given were:
  • be sure to look up information about the college
  • know exactly why you want to attend
  • keep eye contact with the interviewer
  • when asked a question, take some time to think of the answer rather than starting and then gathering your thoughts in the middle of answering
  • whenever you are asked about a time when you acted as a leader or resolved a conflict, talk about the experience, relate it to yourself and your qualities, and then try to explain how you would use these characteristics for the school you're applying to
  • try to make the interview seem like a conversation instead of a question and answer routine
  • always be prepared to ask a question at the end!

I definitely like how here at Brown there are several activities planned to help answer questions about college or the application process. Attending these events will be helpful for me in the future, and the information I share with others will be useful if they have an questions about applications or interviewing. 

This Whole Day Was Late

Today I woke up late. My roommate said that he would wake me up becuase he always wakes up early, but today he ended up waking up at 8:00 . That gave me only a little less time to get ready and grab a quick snack right before class started. Class was pretty fun today. We were assigned a project about Nike and about the sweatshops that are used all over the world. My group has to find a way to make students stop buying Nike items and we have to make Nike stop distributing these items as well. I learned where all of my clothes came from today too. Mostluy in Honduras or China. Then I was late again. I could have sworn that we didn't have a meeting today, but I was amazingly wrong because we had a meeting today with the dean! I didn't know this so I went to the gym with my RA's and friends, and I got a phone call from Tiffany about an hour or two later. I ran back to the dorm as fast as I could, but I ended up running the wrong way and got lost. I then had to ask a lady directions to the Sciences Library (because that's my landmark for this city) and she pointed me in the opposite way I was heading! If it wasn't for that lady I probably still would have been lost haha. But I made it back in time to hear Dean Rose speak and I apologized and everything was fine. I just got back from playing a game of MANHUNT with everybody from Harkness. It was pretty fun until somebody ruined the game and try to make a "better" version. That's when everyone left and then I wrote this. Hope everyone is doing well.

Eating Disorders

We had a presenter come present to us today on eating disorder. Amanda, a Brown student, was diagnosed with anorexia in her freshmen year in college. Now she is going to be a senior and graduate and she wanted to inform people about eating disorders, especially since she went through it herself.

What I found interesting was that people do not think they are anorexic or bulimic even if they are beyond unhealthy. An example Amanda used was that when she use to look at herself in the mirror, she would see a fat lard. Then she would look at another person who was exactly the same weight but she would find them in the nice weight spectrum. This is the complicated part; people diagnosed with eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia only find flaws within themselves.

Eating disorders are due to the pressure from family and friends to be perfect. Amanda said she did not know this until she was finally diagnosed with anorexia but when she was younger, she used to be chubby and her mother would watch what she ate. For example, when Amanda picked up something containing a lot of fat, her mother would retort " Do you know how much calories is in there?!" This kind of attitude towards her led to her eating disorder.

I used to get disgusted when I see interviews of people with eating disorders. Some people just do not know when they are going overboard and jeopardizing their life! However, from Amanda's personal experience, I understand why sometimes they feel an urge to purge or binge; it is difficult to stop especially in today's society. There is a huge pressure for females to be a specific weight and look a specific way. This lead some girls to believe that they have to purge or binge to lose weight and look like a "celebrity."

I found out that eating disorders are very hard to treat as well. In Amanda's case, she had to go through a 12 step treatment and they were closely watched every hour of the day. They retained no privacy even while in the bathroom. They had a specific dress code in case they hid anything in their sleeves or anything of that sort. Now, I view them as strong people because they have to go through so much to get treated. It shows how dedicated they are to rehabilitating so now I respect them.

Well, good night and expect another blog tomorrow.

Today's connection to last year

Today in class we had a very interesting conversation and presentation on eating disorders. But the part that I found the most interesting was how many times the girl presenting to us said um. I recall learning from a guest speaker that whenever giving presentations or speeches to avoid saying the word um or like. Even though I know she is not a professional, it still bothered me a lot that she said it so many times. It got to a point where I couldn't hear a thing she was saying and just started counting the ums. I feel that public speaking is very essential in order to present yourself in a professional manner. I'm very glad that I learned this important skill last year in the Women and Leadership course here at Brown. This just goes to show you how beneficial it is to be able to attend courses like that, and I wouldn't have been able to come to Brown without the ILC. Other then that her presentation was very informative and she even told us about her own experience which must have been really hard for her to do. I could never imagine going through the things she did, it just doesn't seem possible. But that just justifies how society pushes people (mainly women) to look a certain and make them feel like they have to be a certain weight to look beautiful. I also got a lot of information on this last year in my women and leadership class. Well that's all for today!


Today in class we primarily discussed women in the postwar era. Such as, how women were getting married and having kids at young ages, which resulted in the baby boom. Also how women were placed in a domesticity sphere and how odd it would be if they left the sphere and got a job other than being a housewife.

We talked about appliances again in correspondence with Betty Crocker and her cake mixes. Surprisingly enough, I didn't even know that Betty Crocker wasn't a real person. The pictures that were put on Betty Crocker's merchandise changed as the years went on. Where in the 50's, Betty looked very motherly and like a housewife, but in the 80's she looked like a business woman. Funny how ideals change.

Ideals with television also changed. After the war, sitcoms such as I Love Lucy and the Honeymooners expressed women's dislike of being a housewife and wanting to enjoy the world outside her home. However a couple of years later, sitcoms like I Love Lucy and Ozzie and Harriet expressed totally different ideals. Instead, June Cleaver was a happy housewife who enjoyed waiting on her husband and sons' hand and foot.

After this discussion, we watched Eyes on the Prize, which was about African-American students trying to break the color barrier and enter non-integrated all white schools. Watching this film made me realize once again in my life how fortunate I am to able to go to school with people of all different races and even be able to attend such a great summer program at an Ivy League School.

The past 7 days of class I had has taught me a lot, and refreshed my memory about WWII and the Cold War era. I am able to learn more about society rather than government as I had in school. In regards to its teachers and classes, Brown would be a great school to go to. But the atmosphere and lack of excitement don't really suit me; which explains why I am so excited for our trip to New York/Columbia University.

Well, I will talk to everyone tomorrow! Goodnight.

Catch Up Day

John Brown House
Meeting with Dean Rose
Today was a catch up, catch my breath day. When I completed that I went up the hill to Brown and toured the John Brown House, which was very interesting. John Brown made his fortune as a slave trader and built the most splendid house on the hill. Years later his son Nicholas gave a large amount of money to the then "College of Rhode Island" so the college was renamed Brown University after the Brown family. In the 30's the house was donated by the Brown family to the Rhode Island Historical Society. In recent years, the house has been restored back to the original state.

At 5 I met with the students and Dean Rose joined us to chat with the students about their classes, roommates, being away from home and other gerneral subjects. It was a very productive hour and Dean Rose has been so hospitable and supportive for all of us. The sun was out all day today so we are feeling energized by the extra Vitamin D!

"A slap in the face"

In today's 5:00pm meeting with Ms. Kent, Dean Rose asked me how my class was going she told us not to sugarcoat it to tell her the truth. Which is where I was able to finally say exactly what I am feeling. I told her that my class is challenging and that "its a slap in the face," why? because going from one of the top students in my class to one of the slowest in the class is a shocker. It saddens me that I did not learn that same things in AP Biology as these rising sophomores in my. That none of the science classes I took prepared me for what I had coming here at Brown. While this inspires me to try to help to improve the classes at school and talk to students in my school and share my experiences with them so they don't take a "slap in the face" the way I did. Thinking about the unfairness in this country brings tears to my eyes. How can tax payers allow this? How can school administrators allows this? How can California allow this? I now know that I am not dumb, it was just that I was not prepared the same way that these students in my class have.

Class.... Class was definitely exiting today. Today we learned about the muscular system! After the hour and half of lecture and an hour and a half for lunch we went to the lab and dissected a....CAT! I never got the chance to dissect anything other than a fetal pig and a rat in RHS so this was a big deal to me! Our first cat (not named) was weird so we had to get it switched and in return we got FAT JO! ha ha. That is what my partner, Kara and I named our second cat because it has a LOT of FAT! It took us the three and a half hours to De-fat the cat we also barley had time to identify all the muscles in the chest and in the arm. This was definitely interesting. I cant wait to return to the lab tomorrow to finish dissecting Fat Jo.

Until Tomorrow,
Carla Ramirez

The Second Day of School

Today we started class acting we were at a baptists church in Mississippi during the Civil Rights Movement. I acted as an usher and greeted people in my class to their seats. Then we started with at song by the name of "Woke Up This Morning With My Mind Stayed On Freedom." It's a wonderful song and it gives you the feeling of how African-American people felt during the time and they stayed focused.

After that we watched a movie called "Eyes On The Prize" volume 5, it was about Mississippi and how they tried to get voting rights. It was a very interesting,moving, and very informative.
I didn't know that African-Americans weren't allowed in democratic conventions and many people fought for it like protested in front of the convention. A lady by the name of Ms.Fannie Lou Hammer was the leader of the protest and she really made her voice be heard. You could tell how passionate she was about her work.

The second part of class we watched the Will.i.am" Yes We Can" video and we talked about how it affected us and what made him do the video. I read a interview that he did about the video and he said that he did it to inspire and not to make a profit about it.


Experiments and Experiences

My day in class started today with Dr. J, my professor, explaining and demonstrating the studies of Stanley Milgram. Stanley Milgram was interested in how people go against their morals and ethics if authorities tell them to do so. In 1963 he conducted an experiment which involved a volunteer questioning another person and every time the person got the answer wrong they would shock them and every time the answer was incorrect the volts per shock would increase. The Volts went up and up and the deal was that the person shocking another keep going no matter how bad they felt for the subject. Out of 50 people 26 people went through with shocking another person with extreme voltage. Towards the end of the test the person being shocked would be silent to make the shocker believe they had just murdered the subject. I found the results of this experiment to be very interesting. I realized what people are capable of doing under certain pressure.
The second half of the class today was a presentation from a Brown Medical student whom had a personal experience with anorexia and bulimia. Therefore she gave the class a presentation on Eating Disorders. It was interesting because we got to learn the cause and effects and the different type of eating disorders as well as learning how to treat them. It was helpful to hear it from someone who actually went through it.
This class has really showed many things that can go wrong in one's life. And it has been an eye opener to the many opportunities I have had and how I have a good life. Therefore I can help others who need a helping hand or a little push in life.

There is no comparison

Recently, I was asked "how [Brown] compares to what [I am] doing at El Cerrito High School... Do[es El Cerrito] have the rigor? Are other students more prepared than [El Cerrito's] students? What are [my] observations about our readiness?"

I didn't even have to think for a second before I knew the answer.

El Cerrito High School does not compare. Not at all.

I can honestly say, this is the only course I've taken in my high school career in which I asked a teacher for help.

I can honestly say, my times at Brown and Cornell are the only times in my high school career that I've been surrounded by motivated students.

I can honestly say, this is the only time I've gotten lower than a B+ on a quiz in my high school career.

I can honestly say, El Cerrito High School hasn't prepared me at all for the work I'm doing here.

I could count on one hand the number of students at El Cerrito, including my self, who even begin to compare to these kids.

Its not that they're smarter than us. But they're more prepared, their schools offer accelerated math programs starting in middle school, they offer programs in conjunction with local universities, they offer AP Latin, AP Physics, AP Economics, AP Psychology, even AP Art. They offer IB, fencing, and lacrosse.

These kids have been to Turkey, Japan, or Bonnaroo.

How do we even begin to compete with these kids? Kid's who have spent their whole lives preparing for the SAT's, whose parents are doctors, scientists, or ambassadors?

When it comes down to it, I guess we just have to do our best, ask for extra help, and grab every opportunity with our teeth and hold on tight. Because if we don't, we can kiss the east coast goodbye.

Until next time,
Joseph Young

The Fundamentals

That's basically what we've been learning in Macroeconomics - the fundamentals. Without a strong foundation, all the higher level thinking and problem solving that goes on in economics would be harder to grasp. For example, today we went over money growth and inflation. The way we're taught the concept is that, in a perfect closed economy, without any outside forces changing the behavior of the market, when the government prints more money, it inevitably leads to inflation. Also, the central bank (ex. the Fed) can control how smaller banks do their business by changing interest rates and by selling/buying bonds.

This led to a discussion about our current economy. A simple model like the one above, was able for the most part explain what happened in the economy. However, of course, our current state of market is a ton more complicated and intricate than what a basic intro to macroecon model of a closed economy can tell.

My day, in all,was spent well. Joseph and I got breakfast at the Sharpe Refectory, the new place that opened which is a whole lot closer than the V-dub from where we're staying; It's so convenient now. After meeting with Ms. Kent, my floormates and I went to see Transformers 2 in IMAX. Holy cow it was thrilling to see all the explosions fill my plane of view and the booms shake my body. It was good to be able to have something to do in the afternoon seeing that most of the time, there aren't many things to do on campus. My RA tells me its more exciting during the school year, I believe him.

New Teacher, New Decade

So today in my class we had a new teacher to teach us about the 50s. She talked about image vs. reality and that our image or perception of the perfect 50s were basically false. She explained that the 50s is more complex than we think and that there were still post-war anxieties. We also talked about suburbanization and appliances.

With suburbanization, our teacher elaborated about the ideal of the nuclear family and how this ideal was advertised a lot on TV. For the housewives of these nuclear families, appliances were a must. New appliances for cooking were most popular, especially with supermarkets becoming a phenomenon.

We then watched a documentary about the 1950s that discussed religion, fear of another Depression, emotional crisis revolving around splurging, and especially advertisements.

After the documentary we talked about it and the lecture. Surprisingly we were able to leave class early. Hopefully tomorrow will be the same kind of fulfilled learning day.

"Cheating from the Starting Line"

Today, in class we had a lecture on neuroscience from Vicky, one of our TAs who is an upcoming junior at Brown. We then broke into our discussion groups to discuss Thinking in Pictures, a book about Temple Grandin and autism. This was definitely a much harder read than The Quiet Room since I was able to try and connect with Lori Schiller on a more emotional level. Parts of Grandin's memoir were interesting, but after a while, it seemed extremely repetitive and just explained the disorder like a textbook. I would've liked to read more personal accounts, rather than the facts about autism. Hopefully I will be able to get into the book more as I read it. We then heard two presentations from our classmates. I thought they were great and definitely helped me since I will be presenting my study, The Power of Conformity, on Wednesday.

However, the most interesting part of the class today was actually the homework. We had to read two articles, but the one I could related to more was “Cheating from the Starting Line.” It was basically about how more and more students are beginning to cheat and why. Two schools, Horace Mann and Stuyvesant, were mentioned in the article for having the most money and some of the best resources. Even with all these advantages, the students still go to great lengths in order to receive a good grade in class. From forcing tutors to do their work to asking doctors to write notes for medical illnesses, this article showed me how students will not stop until they achieve their goals. I was a bit surprised, but at the same time, I wasn't. Although my parents may not push me as hard as these kids, I still want the best grades I can receive. Thus, of course there will always be a small part of me that thinks it would be so much easier to look over someone else's shoulder or get a note from my doctor in order to receive more time on a test. However, I resist giving into these temptations because I know in the long run, it would only hurt instead of help me. I started to become irritated because even with all these rich, top-rated schools with all the best resources the students continue to use technology (with the internet, e-mail, and even calculators) to avoid work. I go to one of the low-rated schools in my area, and reading an article like this makes me even more frustrated. I feel the wealthier teens in the world should embrace the blessings they have at their prestigious schools because there are other kids who do not have the same resources. It's infuriating to know I must work ten times harder in order to compete when these teens simply weasel their way through school. However, now I also feel motivated to strive. In the end, dishonesty only hurts the cheater.  

Monday, June 29, 2009


In class today I gave my group presentation on the studies done by Henry Harlow on Discovering Love. He tested the relationship between an infant and a mother. He used baby monkeys and two fake mothers, one made of wire that contained food for the infant and one that was made out of cloth to provide comfort. The results to all the studies done under different situations was that the baby monkeys preferred the comfort over a necessity like a milk, food.
My group was one of the first to present so far and I am excited to see what the other groups have got to teach me about their studies.
Also in class we have started to read a new book called Thinking in Pictures which is a book about an autistic women.
So far in class we have learned about different illnesses and challenges people go through. It makes me feel in some way more grateful and lucky to have a life that's not as nearly corrupt.


Today, the unique thing about my day was the homework I had to do. We read articles from the reading packing that we had to buy for the class and I thought it was all very interesting. We had to read two articles; one about cheating and one about consumerism and creativity. Here are my thoughts.

“’What Horace Mann programs you to think is that your purpose in life is getting into an Ivy League school,’ says another former student, who graduated from the school a few years back

It was easy for me to relate to the stories of these kids who faced pressure like no other in their high schools. I don’t come from a rich family and I don’t go to a fancy private school but I do face pressure as these students do. They talk about how they feel the need to cheat, whether it is because they feel like they have to level the playing field or because they feel like they need to get good grades. I face similar pressures and temptations.

In our school, it is not hard to succeed. El Cerrito is not a great school and it comes from a poor school district, meaning that the kids in that school do not care and do not strive to succeed. The competition to do well is not as cutthroat as the competition in these private schools. However, the pressure to get A’s on tests and in the class is very similar. Because it’s not a very good school, I have to succeed or else it must mean I’m worth less than everyone else that does well in harder schools. This is the train of thought that I usually follow during the school year, but now that I think about it closely, that’s not true.

I try hard, I work hard, I strive hard. My effort is worth everyone else’s and I didn’t cheat to get where I am today. That makes me worth it, according to the moral ethics that should be in place today. However... the article is right. People have unfair advantages; people do things to get ahead and usually, it works. Usually, these people get away with it and they get further in life, according to our materialistic ideals. What does this say of our society? What does that mean for those that can’t afford advantages or don’t feel right about cutting corners? What does that mean for humanity? Where is our morality?

“It’s not in the marketers’ best interest for consumers to think too much, too well, or too critically about their products.”

After reading this second article about consumerism and creativity, I thought about the quality of life in the children today. When I was a child, not so long ago, I feel like society was just shifting between good old generalized legos and sets of legos with instructions. I worry about the future generations.

However, this correlates with the other article. If the younger generations now are losing the ability to be creative because of toys available to them and if they’re feeling the pressure now to have the new toys then what does that mean for their future? Won’t they continue in their search for the newest “toys”? Won’t that search for materialistic satisfaction follow them into their adult life? If it does, this will fuel the temptation to cheat and get ahead in life. It makes sense because they feel like they have to do what they have to do in order to get what they need to be satisfied. It’s a cycle; once they get what they need to be satisfied, they’ll get tired of it and they’ll be in the search for the next new thing they need to be satisfied. Once again, people will try to cheat and get a head of the game so that they can feel satisfied again by getting the new object of their desire. Advertisers must be making it big, even in the economy we have today.

I've thought about a lot tonight because of these readings. These are the types of things we learn about in psychology.

Good night.

Cheating Culture

In class we learned many new things in class, our TA Vicky presented a power point on "Your brain on drugs". I was surprised to see that I knew most of the material being presented because In had previously learned it in my physiology class. That I found very ironic because throughout the year my physiology teacher continuously changed, I had about four different teachers that year. That was when I got excited, maybe I did know just as much as anyone else, even throughout all of the struggles to try to learn in my physiology class, I knew material that was being presented by a college student. I guess it was pretty basic stuff, but it made me confident in my education. After Vicky's presentation a few student group presented their project. Team BAMT presented on Feminine, Masculine, or both? I found that some of the character traits that they labeled as a female trait was not entirely true, and you often see this stereotype everywhere in society. Next was Mercedes' group, the orange oranges, their presentation was on discovering love. They showed us how infants are said to be connected to their mother through compassion and love, instead of food necessities.

I especially liked today's homework because it was explaining how people cheat to get the big money in life, which goes back to my title, Cheating Culture. As I was reading I found that most students going to prestigious schools often cheat their way through, and I felt it was unfair to those students who work hard to get somewhere in life. They also went on to say how because most of those students go to private schools, their parents have the money to get them tutors, and have the power to change hings so that things are more advantageous to their kids. They even go as far as getting medical approval that their child has learning disabilities, so that they could have extra time during the SATs. I feel that these kids have all the luck, they get to go to excellent schools and they don't have as many struggles as kids living in poverty. It is so unfair that we have to work extra hard to try to excel, when they can just cheat their way up. I don't think all of them do, but the statistics in the book were pretty high. I feel that maybe that's why it's so hard for students without these advantages to turn their life around, because they see no point. That is basically what I see around my school, they don't care because they believe that they can never compete with students that get to attend private schools. I really connected to this reading because of these reasons, I am one of those students who have to work extra hard to reach for a higher education, but I don't have my parent's money to get me personal tutors and bribe my way up. I do it all on my own, without cheating because I want to know that I did it sincerely without cutting corners.

Thinking In Pictures

Recently, we started reading Thinking In Pictures as a class assignment. After reading The Quiet Room, I figured this would be a good book as well. The first 20 pages were fairly okay and interesting but then after that, I found myself skimming through the pages. You may be wondering why? Well, for numerous reasons.

I am not a text book kind of person. I hate reading text books because it is all information and contains nothing that I can emotionally connect to. This book contains a lot of information about autism but the author, Temple, does not describe her life living with autism. This brings me back to what Ms. Kim told us to do in our college essays, "Show. Don't tell." I find that this will be a really good advice to Temple because what I get from the book is that she is telling, not showing what life is like for her. Not only that but there is quite a lot of information to absorb and I find it overwhelming. This information can be found in text books, and like I said, I am not fond of text books.

Reading The Quiet Room also added more reasons for my dislike for Thinking In Pictures. In The Quiet Room, I felt emotionally attached to the book so it grabbed my attention. It came to the point that I could not even put down the book. The main difference is the personal account of the book. Lori was able to show what she went through which helped the reader comply with her own experiences. In Temple's book, she is just generalizing and teaching the reader what autism is. 

What I found out about myself is that I like it when I can emotionally connect to the experiences in the book, I am more likely to continue reading it. Maybe this is why I despise reading text books. I have learned something about myself. 

First Day Of School

Today was really different. I woke up at about 7:45 which was kind of early since I have been waking up at around 11 these past couple of weeks. At first I went to go eat breakfast in the cafeteria, and I had just realized that I didn't have a course packet. I then went to my class with two of my other floor mates and the media director said, "You must be wrong, there are no classes here". So after going all the way to the 14th floor wondering what we should do. We then saw the RA Ann and we talked to her and went to go get some course packets at the information center. That's when we found out the class was originally at the Sciences Library where we originally came from. Well the class itself was pretty interesting, yet kind of repetitive. Throughout the whole day the asked us to write down our action plan like 5 different times. We got to know our classmates more and learned what they wanted out of this course however. We got to do fun activities and think through scenarios and act like real leaders, and lawyers, and there was a lot of debating. It was pretty lively, and when I got out of the class I felt free! I made new friends and we went to eat and kicked it together all day, it was great. I hope that tomorrow will be even better, and I hope I get more sleep tonight.

What I learned today: Definition of a leader: Someone who is passionate about doing what they think will benefit not only themselves but others as well. A leader is also someone who influences others and whom people like to follow.

The Ice Breaker

Today I started my class which is Leadership & the Civil Rights Movement. I have really great smart and intelligent teachers. There's a funny thing about them, they both live in Oakland. So it shows how its such a small world, I leave my neck of the woods to experience new people and I still end being taught by someone near me. Also one of my teachers Branice teaches at the Oakland School of Arts and my other teacher Kristian teachers at a school in Hayward.

When I leave this summer program, I feel like I'm going to leave with so much more information than I know now. I'm learning the songs that the Civil Rights participants song during the movement. I learned that older African-Americans during that time tried to keep what was happening from the children because they didn't want the children becoming a victim. And keeping secrets kind of hurt some of the children in a certain way.Lastly I learned about who has the power in certain situations. Example children control the economic power because they get their parents to by a lot of different things like an iPod and computers.

I just want to let everyone know that I'm having a great time and thanks for this opportunity to come to Brown.

Next Time....

Ok, next time I will read the other blogs first so I don't title mine the exact same way!!

Nature, Nurture, DNA

For some reason, I can never get more than six or seven hours of sleep. That said, I groggily dragged myself out of bed this morning to meet Dennis and Ali at the Ratty—the cafeteria that just opened this morning.

Then, I went of to my morning lab session. We began the first part of our three day lab in which we will create a recombinant plasmid, grow bacterial cultures containing the recombinant DNA, and then test whether the desired plasmid is actually contained in the cultures.

Today, we did the first step, creating the recombinant plasmid. To do this, we first did a restriction digest of BamhI and HindIII on two separate samples of plasmid DNA, pAMP and pKAN. Next, we incubated this mixture for thirty minutes. Meanwhile, we prepared the agarose gel. When our sample was finished incubating, we added loading dye to the samples, and loaded the samples into the gel. We then ran electrophoresis for about thirty minutes. When the gel was finished running, we took it into the UV photography machine, and captured the DNA's movement through the gel. This was done in order to be certain that the restriction digest had continued to completion. Next, we put the remaining samples of the restriction digest into a sixty five degree heater in order to kill the BamHI and HindIII. Finally, we combined the pKAN and pAMP, and mixed in DNA ligase so that the fragments will combine.

Also, last weeks lab reports were passed back and I received check pluses in both practical applications and theoretical understanding. This was especially pleasing because I've been having a lot of trouble understanding the theory behind DNA manipulation.

In the afternoon session, we went over an article we had been assigned to read which dealt with epigenetics—the link between genes and environment. This was particularly fascinating. Often in science, you hear the debate between nature and nurture. Are some people born more intelligent, more athletic or healthier? Or do environmental factors such as nutrition or a mother's education level determine this? After reading the article, a clear answer resounds—both.

Phenotypic differences between individuals are often caused by differences in the genetic code of individuals. However, genes exist that are not polymorphic—genes that have only one possible arrangement. How does one account for phenotypic differences here? The answer lies in gene regulation. Environmental factors can determine the amount of methylation in genes. For instance, ninety nine percent of non-smokers show partial to complete methylation of the CYP1A1, while only thirty three percent of heavy smokers show methylation. Thus, smoking increases the expression of this gene. Also, drug resistance, which is coded for on MDR1 gene, varies between people. However, there is no polymorphism of this gene. The amount of methylation of this gene determines drug resistance.

Small portions of RNA called micro RNA (miRNA) act as gene regulators. miRNA bonds to mRNA, which carries the information for protein translation, creating dsRNA. However, genes code for the automatic destruction of dsRNA. Thus, by creating small pieces of RNA, the cell is able to stop the production of certain proteins. The amount of miRNA shows a clear correlation with the level of gene expression. Thus, levels drug resistance are also determined by miRNA. Interestingly, miRNA was only discovered in 2007, so the study of this RNA and its regulation is very young. Who knows what discoveries will come next.

Once class was over, I back to my dorm room to catch up on my sleep. Then, it was on to meeting with Ms. Kent, dinner at a different cafeteria that just opened up, and finally studying in the P5 lounge.

Tomorrow, I will be transforming the genetic make-up of E. coli.

Until then,
Joseph Young

Brunch and Wellesley

Wellesley Admission's office


The gang at brunch.

Sunday was just as busy as Saturday, starting with a brunch at the beautiful Maddox Alumni House. We were so honored to have many Brown "stars" attend, from admissions officers to the assistant to Ruth Simmons, the president of Brown. Robin Rose and Karen Sibley, who are longtime supporters and admirers of the program were also there. After brunch, our student, Meuy Chien Saephan gave an interesting presentation about some of thepast illuminaries of Brown and Ms Kronenberg spoke about our connection to Brown. Tehani Collazo, the Director of Education Outreach spoke of her journey to Brown and had the students participate in an activity in which they pondered where they wished their lives to be in 5-10-20 years and then several shared their reflections.

In the mid afternoon a group of us headed off to see Wellesley College, the alma mater of both Hillary Clinton and Madeline Albright. The students were interested in seeing not only an all womens college but a small college as Wellesley has a student body of 2000, much smaller than the Boston schools we had just visited. The campus is lush and gorgeous and the architecture splendidly medieval.

Today Ms Kronenberg and I visited Carlas's biology class where she was being certified for CPR and then off to see Mercedes present in her Intro to Psychology class. She and her group did a great job illustrating the work of Henry Harlow who did the research with the rhesus monkeys to determine if infants are attached to their mothers more for nourishment or for comfort. You will have to ask Mercedes for the answer! I met with all the students at 5 and they are back into their routine. Tiffani and Zack had a great first day. Tiffani said "it is so much more than I expected." And Zack said he is "having a blast."

Tomorrow my mission is to find a laundromat in the neighborhood! Keep you posted...

CPR & Megan Dawson

I have to say that taking a CPR class was so much fun! Being certified is also great, now I know that I am prepared in case of an emergency. Apart from taking a CPR class in the morning I got the unique opportunity to meet a Brown Alumnae who is doing a research project here at Brown. Her name is Megan Dawson, she graduated from Brown in 2008 and her concentration(major) was biology. She is currently working in Brainerd Lab which is located in the life science building is working on x-ray reconstruction of moving morphology. Being able to take a tour of the lab in which she works in and seeing the x-ray machines and animations she develops with certain computer programs is unbelievable. Getting this unique opportunity is special to me, and knowing that this is funded by the school is making me like more aspects of Brown that take away from the fact that it is an open campus.

What a busy day!

Today, everyone met at 11 am at the Maddock Alumni Center for a lovely brunch. Not only was there great food (I loved the blueberry french toast! haha), but I was able to talk to a few people who currently go to Brown or have graduated from the university. I liked talking to Marcella, a rising junior, who explained to me why she chose Brown over other schools. She, like several others, told me she liked the open curriculum and the freedom to explore various subjects led her to choose her major of Geophysics. I also plan to go to the admissions office sometime this week to speak to Mercedes Domenech about the medical program here at Brown. After eating, we went to a different room in order to here a couple of speeches. I found it interesting when speaker Tehani Collazo mentioned that she first went to a poor, low-rate school district, her parents took her out and moved her to Brookline. This struck me because I know a few students who left our district to move to one that they thought was better. I wonder if Tehani would have stayed with her school district if it had organizations, such as the Ivy League Connection, which helps students. Although we may not have the best district, I'm glad I am part of one that is slowly improving with programs like ILC.

After the brunch, Gina, Meuy, Carla, and I went to visit Wellesley College with Ms. Kronenberg, Ms. Kent, and Mr. Ramsey. Fortunately, a kind lady, Moira Kelly, was able to give us a tour of the campus. This school is one of the seven sisters (the seven all-women liberal arts colleges located in the northeastern US) with famous graduates like Hilary Clinton and Madeline Albright. My first impression was that the campus was beautiful and huge (600 acres!). There are only 2,000 undergraduates and 30% diversity. I liked how the school has such a strong connection to MIT and allows students to take courses there and has an extensive study abroad program. In the end, I could not see myself going to this school. This tour was helpful because I learned I may be more of a city person. Although it is 5 minutes away from downtown Wellesley and 15 miles away from Boston, I still felt a bit isolated. However, I'm sure I can use the information I received to talk to any students who are considering an all-women college.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

A Late Start

The Alumni Brunch took place today at 11 AM. Unfortunately for me, that was the time that I woke up this morning. Thankfully, I was able to get down to the Maddocks Alumni House in 10 minutes. I attribute it mostly to the fact that I got the full-windsor tied probably the fastest I've ever done it, and on the first try too, perfect length and everything.

In any case, the brunch was extremely helpful to me. Along with Joseph, I was able to speak to Elizabeth Hart, the Assistant Director of Admissions. Joseph asked many questions that I'm glad to have listened to the answers to. The most useful to me was her answer to the question of whether or not Brown's open curriculum works for everyone. She was able to explain how the open curriculum allows students to, outside of their concentration, take classes that interest them. It promotes learning for the sake of learning, rather than learning to fulfill a requirement.

Also, I really enjoyed her explanation of how to decide to double major or not. Once we get into college, we should make a list of all the courses outside our first major we want to take. If the list we make has a bunch of classes that would fulfill a second major, then we should go for it. If not, than stick with one.

One other thing I gleaned was during the presentations. Our last speaker challenged us to write on an index card:
1) What we plan do do with our education, basically, our goal
2) Who do we want to affect with our goal
3) Why we want to achieve this
4) A timeline of where we want to be 5, 10, and 20 years from now.

She had shared her story of growing up as a minority student who had experience with both the urban school and the more suburban school; she told us about the questions she had about why there were fewer minorities in the AP classes that she herself was able to take. From there she continued to go on and explain that this exercise she was showing us was to give us the opportunity to analyze our aims and later on, be able to remind ourselves of why we go to college, why we try our hardest to learn and grow, and why, in the end, is it all worth the effort.

I wasn't able to share my card at the program and well I'll share it here: I want to touch lives globally; I want to be able to change peoples lives and improve how people live. Something like public health, non-profits like UNICEF, the UN, or becoming a doctor that travels. I want to be able to help others, and this where I differed from a lot of my peers who wanted to change their community, I wanted to change the world. It's kind of a pretentious goal in my opinion sometimes, I wonder if I'll be able to do all that.

And so why? Why such a high goal? It's because I want to be able to use my abilities to help others. I've always enjoyed serving others and working directly with people. At this point of my life, I figure that I have an ability to enrich lives and work with others well now, why not make it a larger goal of mine.

Finally, the timeline. 5 years from now, I expect myself to be in college or graduating college. In 10 years, I hope to be working in the field, traveling and working with communities. In 20 years, well, I hope to have settled down, traveling less and working more in an office or headquarters type environment, heck maybe even have a family. It's funny thinking about it, because it's so far ahead and subject to so much change. That's what I'm worried about, I've made known what I want to do now and to the public, and if it changes, well what will people think of it? My thought about that is well, aim for the stars, because even if you miss, you'll have at least landed on the moon. I think that as long as I end up somewhere I want to be, it'll be great.

Brunch & Wellesley

I've come to learn that in life nothing comes easy, I've learned that in order to succeed one must go out and do what needs to be done without relying too much on solely one person, yet we have to make connections with people in order to succeed. Hearing the speeches today got me thinking more in depth about my future, and what my goals are for the next 5,10,15,and even 20 years. Today as I was talking to Mercedes Domenech I learned something about myself....that even though I do not like Brown's open campus I do love the fact that they provide a program in which one is guaranteed medical school here at Brown and that is a resource that I want to take advantage of.

Walking in the Wellesley campus was incredible! Not just because of the astounding architecture and being surrounded by nature but because of the vibe it gave off. It was a place in which I could see myself reading a book or doing homework next to the lake and walking through the narrow staircase to class. Just a place in which I can be relaxed but not isolated from the world either. The school is strong in science which is something that I'm looking for in a school apart from it being small (there are only 2,000 students in the school) and the school providing studying abroad programs. Wellesley definitely fits into the spectrum of the type of schools I am looking for.

Thank you,
Carla J. Ramirez

Interesting Day

As I explained in my last blog Tiffany and I went to orientation. After orientation we had brunch with alumns and admissions officers. That brunch sure was something different. I have never had brunch with new fancy types of foods in a fancy room haha. It was overall interesting. The thing that had me thinking the most was when we went over what would we like to do with our leadership skills. Everyone had different ideas, but basically the same concept. I want to be able to help kids find opportunities such as the ILC (or any organization or opportunity) and let it be known to more people. With great opportunities such as this people can have chances to go to different places and experience a completely different life. Ever since I arrived here I felt like I was living the rich life and I actually feel like im in college and learning what I have to do to make it in the world. I want to enlighten younger crowds so that they can take advantage of these things earlier than I had so that they can experience more of it. After the brunch I went out and met my roommate who is a pretty cool guy whose name is ganeu which rhymes with canoe haha, and he's from south korea. I got to chill with my RA's today and got to know who everybody on my floor is and what they are all about. So far I only saw two football players other than myself, and everyone seems to know about sports. We also played a fun card game that let us all bond more, but the girls had to kick us out of the lounge and ruin our fun. But overall this day was interesting. This world is different than my usual one.


This is the chapel at Wellesley.

This is Harvard.
The building shown here is a dining hall.
The interior is really gorgeous and antique looking.

This is the Statas building at M.I.T.
It has a really unique structure to it.
Also, they have yellow water in the toilet instead of clear.
I find that quite interesting.
Eric told us it has some biological effect to it.

This is M.I.T.
We were standing on the lawn where graduation is held each year.
Right across from this building is the Charles River.

This is at Tufts University.

Brunch at the Maddock Center

This morning, after waking up to the blaring of my alarm clock, I ran into the shower, shaved, and got ready for our second formal event of the trip. I put on my slacks, my shiny shoes and a tie in order to look as swank as possible. Then, I headed across the street to the Maddock Alumi Center

We began with introductions, and then collected our food. There was an amazing spread of quiche, frittata, bacon, blueberry french toast, fruit, and other delectable goodies—not to mention plenty of coffee.

I was fortunate enough to sit next to Elizabeth Hart, Associate Director of Admission. She spent the brunch answering my questions. "Is the Open Curriculum a good fit for everyone" "What kinds of undergraduate research opportunities are there." She was able to answer every question asked, usually with an anecdote of some student she had met, and with each answer, it became more clear.

Brown is the place for me. Its opportunities for travel, community service project funding, limitless (well 2000) courses and much more.

Until next time,
Joseph Young

Brunch and Wellesley

I was happy that I got to sleep in this morning until 10 in which I woke up to get dress for the brunch with the alumni. Ten out of the eleven students were there early, thus we were ON time. It was a really nice brunch; there was a wide range of variety but not enough room at the table. However, I see this as a good sign because it shows that the Ivy League Connection program is improving. Word is getting out to other students who would like to join us on our wonderful journey in the east coast.

I found the brunch to be very informative. I did not know that Brown does not offer minors. They only offer double majors. It does not change completely change my view but now I have to think twice about it. I do want to double major but I heard that it is very challenging so I decided that I wanted to go a major and a minor instead of double major. Brown does not do that though. But I really love that Brown has an open curriculum and I really enjoy the atmosphere. People have told me that if the college is right for you, you will feel it right away. I feel that Brown can be that fit for me. It is the vibe and energy that I receive from Brown that seems to pull me in.

I had to make a speech today. Public speaking is not my idea of making time pass. I was nervous and worried that it will be a rough speech. However, I thought about it. I went from this shy and timid girl to a person who can stand up at the podium and deliver a speech. Even though I stumbled and stuttered along the way, at the end of the day, the real deal is that I gained the courage and confidence to go up and speak. This is one of the reason why I chose to come back to Brown. Last summer, Brown challenged me. It was capable of turning me into the kind of leader that I have pictured myself to be and so I decided to come and face that challenge again.

After the dinner, four of the females (me, Gina, Courtney, and Carla) went to visit Wellesley with Ms. Kronenberg, Ms. Kent, and Mr. Ramsey. We had a difficult time navigating to Wellesley but we did reach our destination. When we arrived, there was a woman, Moira, who was kind enough to give us a private tour of Wellesley. I am glad that I went on the tour because now I know that I do not want to attend Wellesley. There is that slight notion for me to at least apply because it can be my back door to M.I.T. because Wellesley work closely with M.I.T. I will only attend Wellesley ONLY for that purpose. The campus is of course extremely BEAUTIFUL because it is integrated into nature but walking through the campus, I figured out that I am a city girl. I like the bustle in the city; not the mellowness of the rural areas.

Well, I really should be getting to my work. I have to read 80 pages and email a reaction paper to our TA by 11:59 pm tonight.

I also found out that it is extremely difficult for me to load my pictures to my computer.

A Wonderful Day

Last night I got in from a long trip from California, I got to see a little bit of Boston. When I got to Providence I got to check in and meet with the other students. Then we went to Mills Tavern which was really great, we had some wonderful conversations about the school district and how we felt about the CASHEE test. It was great to he every one's opinion on it, I heard some really great sides on how people feel about it.

This morning I started out real early with my registry. Then I went to the wonderful brunch at 11. Not only did I have wonderful food, I had great conversation's with the Brown alumni. I learned a lot about the school and the classes here. I didn't know that once you get accepted into the school you can't get rejected from the medical part of the school.
Tehani(alumni) really got me to thinking about what I'm going to do after I graduate from college. She got me to think about the goals and accomplishments I want to have. Example: Like what am I going to bring back to my community. What type of impact will I have on the kids from my district. I want to thank her for having us do that activity it was very useful.

Word of the Day: CONNECTION

Today at eleven o'clock all of the members of the Ivy League Connection at Brown University reunited with Brown Alumni Guy at the Maddock Alumni Center for Brunch. I have got to say not only was it Delicious but very informative. During the Brunch I talked to a Brown undergraduate senior named Adrienne Buell. She is a student at Brown whom came from Monterrey, California and she told me about her life and I noticed how it was similar to mine. She too came from a Hispanic family with one parent. She shared her experiences at Brown with me and told me about all the different clubs and organizations at Brown that are for and by Latino students.

This one aspect about Brown has driven me closer to the school. Just knowing that I will not feel homesick while being at Brown is comforting. I learn knew things everyday that in the long run will really help me and benefit me in choosing what colleges I want to go to.
Also there were a couple of speeches given today and they all had something to do with. This program is about learning from others and us teaching others.

To make a connection based on what we learned to help one another. That's why I believe I'll be able to go back to Richmond and share what I have learned this past week and what I will learn these following weeks here at Brown.

Mercedes Montelongo

Oh So Tired

What to say what to say. Yesterday was such a long day. Tiffany and I arrived at about 4 o'clock in Boston and took a train down here to Providence. I was asleep most of the time, but while I was awake there was a good view of the city. Last night we all met up and had dinner at Mill's Tavern and it was very delicious. I had the rack of lamb with mash potatoes and chocolate cake. The discussion we had last night about the "Do you think they should walk" thing was very interesting. Everyone had their own views, but in the end everyone agreed that if you didn't meet all the requirements for high school including passing the exit exam, then the student shouldn't be able to walk. Other then that it was an interesting night and my floor is pretty quiet, maybe it's because i'm an early arrival haha. I stay in Harkness and currently do not have a roommate. This morning Tiffany and I spent a good hour walking in circles trying to find Sayles so we could get our id's and class scheduels. I hope tomarrow will be something different, and i am looking forward to brunch in an hour!

What a day

Woke up this morning early to go to Boston. We spent the drive fighting with the GPS, which consistently gave us different directions then Mr. Ramsey's car. Weird.

We arrived at Tufts, and started our self guided tour. The campus was beautiful, full of green lawns, trees, and old brick buildings. We stopped to talk to a Bio Major who was studying frogs over the summer, and we talked to another woman who was entering the occupational therapy program, which is supposed to be one of the best in the country. Other than that, however, the campus was deserted.

Next, we went on to MIT, where a Hercules High Alum gave us the insiders tour. MIT was the most interesting campus that we visited. I particularly liked how the schools main focus, math and science, was incorporated into the architecture. There was a building who's roof was one eighth of a sphere, all supported at two points. Then, there was the Strata Center for electrical engineering and computer science, designed by world renowned Frank Gehry. This multifaceted building was composed entirely of shapes that could be made by folding one piece of paper.

When we left MIT, we traveled over to Harvard, to meet another Hercules Alum. First we went to Harvard Yard (pronounced "Hahvahd Yahd") and continued on to the freshman dining hall, which was one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever seen. The inside was filled with ornate wood work, imposing brick, and stained glass windows.

We came back to Providence, driving through the most intense rain storm I've been in for a while, and then, just as abruptly as the rain started, the sun came out. When we got back to our dorms, I took a quick nap before heading out to dinner at Mill's Tavern.

The discussion was lively, focusing on our impressions of the colleges (it was very interesting to see how even though many of us come from similar backgrounds, we are all looking for such different things. Courtney liked Tufts because it was removed from the city, giving it a quaint atmosphere, while I disliked it for those exact reasons.)

Then we shifted the topic to the CAHSEE, where peoples view points differed even more. However, I don't think the table ever came to a consensus. Tomorrow, we have the brunch with the Brown Alumni.

Until then,
Joseph Young

exploring colleges!

Tufts. MIT. Harvard. Completely different vibes from all the schools! But my top schools are by far Tufts and Harvard. Even though we had an excellent tour guide and there are all these cute little details about the school like the 30-60-90 building and the S3(cubed) building MIT is extremely rigorous in math which is by far not my strong point. Harvard just has amazing architechture and gives off a great vibe, I can imagine myself attending there. The freshmen dinning hall which also doubled as the civil war memerial to honor the men who fought to preserve the union was breath taking! Tufts, the small campus was very welcoming even though there was virtually nobody in the campus. Talking to the students helped change my mind about Tufts. The school grew on me as the self-guided tour continued.
Having the chance to visit Brown University is amazing but also getting the chance to look at colleges around the area is even more incredible. I can't wrap my head around the idea of actually attending one of these schools in about another school year. I just want to say thank you for proving us with the opportunity to visit these three colleges.

Carla Ramirez

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Fits Like A Glove

Today was spent visiting colleges around the Boston area, namely Tufts, MIT, and Harvard. I first want to say that all the constructive feedback we've been receiving on our blog posts have been taken with an open mind, and as a contingent, we've figured out for the most part what we can do to improve on our blogs. It was just overwhelming at first to have to cover such a wide range of topics each blog post but now I believe that we will be able to give insight to what we each feel about our experiences.

So our first stop was Tufts. Wow what a beautiful campus it was. I was so shocked to see how empty it was too. Almost all the buildings were closed for the weekend, and not very many students were seen on campus. However, the weather today was absolutely perfect in the morning, and I think it definitely helped give us a "perfect" picture of the beauty of the campus. After Mr. Ramsey was able to find a student to talk to us for a bit, the thing that stuck out to me was still just the beauty of the campus.

Next was MIT. We had a great tour guide named Eric who was a Hercules High graduate. He shared so many personal stories and his vast knowledge about the MIT culture. He really helped me capture the idea that MIT is a rigorous, intense, and very difficult academic environment. But after inquiring about social life, I was able to find out that it's not completely out-of-reach to have one. A lot of the culture at MIT centers around traditions and quirks that I found really interesting. Each building has its own history and even though I'm not an intended math or science major, I really wish I could go to MIT. The ways that the students keep the school fun and exciting really fits with how I feel that school should be.

Our last stop was Harvard. Our guide was another Hercules High grad named Peter who had his own kind of twist on the campus life. It was more of an "it's there" type of attitude which really conveyed the kind of humor that can still be found on even the most "serious" of college campuses. I really liked it because well, it's Harvard. Stepping into Harvard Yard and onto the streets around it, I felt like this was what I was looking for in a college, it was a good fit.

I've been talking a lot about fit. And I think I realized that fit was more important than the scores universities require or the prestige early in my college search. I also think it's because that the latter two were easy for me to grasp. I knew I was able to get good grades and good scores early, and I also knew what a prestigious school was. So when figuring out what college I would want to go to, all I really had to think about was fit - right from the get go.

So what do I mean by fit. I'm talking about the location of the school, the people who attend it, what there is to do when you're not in class, accessibility to the city or teachers or jobs, traditions and things they don't tell you in college tours. Which is why I was so glad to have tours not given by the admissions office staff; we were able to get a more personal and reflective look at schools rather than the scripted highlight reel given to the masses. At both MIT and Harvard, when there was something interesting, we were able to actually stop and talk about it, rather than get moved along from place to place. We could ask more personal questions about how they dealt with the pressures and could receive more personal answers that sometimes talked about the school in a darker light.

I've had the good fortune, because of the Ivy League Connection, to be on two different campuses over the summers, Columbia and Brown. They're extremely different. Columbia is in the urban metropolis New York City, and Brown is in the small city of Providence. Two very contrasting schools that have very many things to offer. By being on both I've been able to see how each one may or may not fit me. I like the accessibility, closeness, and busyness of New York, but I also disliked the claustrophobic nature of Columbia's campus. On the other hand, I love the open and free nature of the Brown campus and curriculum, but I loathe the fact that Providence isn't the most exciting city or the fact that the beach is an hour away.

So as you can see, this may be why I like Harvard so much; The college reminds me a lot of Berkeley. Cambridge is like to Boston, what Berkeley is to San Francisco. A college town that's like a suburb to the larger city, but on its own is self-sustaining and has a plethora of things to do. Walking around Harvard Square, I was reminded of the environment that surrounded Columbia and UC Berkeley. A subway station right next to campus and a whole area of shops and cafe's that keeps the area active. Boston is between Providence and New York in size, which gives me that balance I'm looking for; A school where work meets play. Where when you're not busy doing problem sets, you can go hang out downtown. Where if you don't want to study in your room, you can study at the cafe across the street. Where if you don't want to outright work at all one day, you can go to the main quad and find something to do that day or join a pick-up game with some people.

It would have been a lot harder for me to discover this fit for me if I hadn't been fortunate enough to be a part of the program and be able to visit these colleges that are all nearby. If not for this program, I wouldn't have been able to understand how hard people have to work to get into these schools nor would I have realized that certain schools click better with my personality than others.

Just on a side note: The food for dinner today was delicious and I can not question Mr. Ramsey's taste in fine dining.


Good afternoon!

I've been sifting through the blogs about everyone's day in Boston and everyone seems like they had a good day. So did I. I felt like it was a very informative day, and I got a lot of out of it. Whether the tours were self-guided or guided by former Hercules students, it was awesome.

However, one campus that really stood out to me today was MIT. I never thought about the school as anything other than a great school. I thought it would be out of my reach, that only dorks go there. I thought it was only for high achievers, and for people that have studied math all their lives and impossible to get into for people like me. But, today when we took the tour with Eric Trac, I changed my mind.

You can ask anybody that was there, but I was really excited about the campus. It was integrated into the city, but still the buildings were close enough to walk through them without losing our breaths. They were connected by an underground tunnel which is a really clever way to avoid snow days. The buildings were amazing; one of them looked like a sine curve when you looked at the top down view, one of them was a 30-60-90 triangle built from the ground up, one of them was just CRAZY, with all the arches and curves and everything. The buildings and the architecture was so amazing. It made me really excited to visit the campus, and it opened my eyes to a whole new college to consider for the coming fall, when it is time to fill out college applications. Visiting MIT made the whole trip worthwhile to me.

A Day of Incoming Knowledge

Today I felt very Privileged to have been able to get the chance to get a close view at Tufts, MIT, and Harvard. We awoke a 7:30 to be able to eat breakfast and head straight to Massachusetts.
I have been told by me college counselor Ms. Sue Kim about Tufts that this would be a good school for me being a liberal arts school. Now being able to actually psychically be there and get the up close look and learn from a few students willing to talk us I have decided that tufts will be on my list of colleges to apply.

After Tufts we headed off to MIT to meet with a former Hercules High student whom is now a student at MIT to gives us a tour of the school. There were so many interesting things that i learned about this school. Even though I don't think that this school is a good match for me I am now able to go back home and share what I learned today with all of my fellow classmates interested in MIT.

At Harvard again we met with another former student from Hercules whom gave us a tour of Harvard as well. The campus was so beautiful, but once again I did not think that this was a school made for me.

After a long day of exploring on these three school's campuses I along with everyone else was exhausted. Yet I do not regret going on this trip because I got to see that Tufts is a school for me and learned information on each that I can share with everyone I know.


I am sure the students will have so much to say so I will make it brief for my part.

We had a wonderful time in Boston today visiting Tufts, MIT and Harvard. What was very special, for me—very, very special—was that for MIT and Harvard we had two 2008 graduates from Hercules as our tour guides.

Eric at MIT was just amazing, I told him he should be a professional tour guide, he was that knowledgeable. I know we would not have gotten half the inside look without him. He even took us down to the tunnel system, which, after the Pentagon is the longest tunnel system in the US. It was built to keep the students going to classes even during the worst blizzards. Students can ride their bikes or walk through them.

Harvard was a busy place today and Peter showed us a dorm room and the amazing freshman dining and dorm building which looked like a huge cathedral right out of Harry Potter.

All in all, a very enlightening, informative and fun day. We are all resting now in preparation for our formal dinner and meeting up with our new members, Zackery and Tiffany.

Pix are L to R: Harvard, MIT & Tufts

Boston for a Day

No one wants to wake up early. It took much strength and commitment for me to force myself up at 7:15 to get ready for Boston. I washed up, put on some tourist style clothes, grabbed my bag and that was that. Then Courtney, Cynthia, Gina, and I walked to Wayland Arch and anticipated the arrival of Ms.Kent and Mr.Ramsey. We heard a honk, well more like a couple of honks and we ran to the car to grab our seat. Then we headed down to a Bagel Shop on Thayer Street for breakfast. When we were finally full and ready for the journey to Boston, we hopped in the car and set the GPS system to our destination.

It was a pretty long ride so I attempted to sleep in the back seat of the car but failed. I just looked out the window to admire what nature has to offer. When we finally arrived at Tufts, I admit it did not interest me. We walked around for a while and we asked some random students about Tufts. What I found out was that students enjoy Tufts because it is like the best of both worlds. It has an undergraduate population of 5,000 students and is situated in a suburban area. Overall, I really like the campus but I do not think it is for me.

From Tufts, we headed towards M.I.T. to meet up with Eric, a former student of Hercules High, who gave us a tour of the school. The first thing I noticed about M.I.T. was that it is an open campus. No gates or anything limiting the access of the school to others. It is funny how something so simple can impact my decision; I really like the openness of the school. Not only that but I really adore how they comically rally the support for math and science. They seem to relate everything to math and science such as the Student Support Services, they call it S^3(S cube). There was also a building that was built on the concept of balancing 1/8th of a sphere. Another interesting building was the 30, 60, 90 triangle. Eric also pointed out the building that was shaped as a sin symbol. I thought that was pretty impressive.

Next, we went to Harvard. Now going back to Harvard, I find that I am not very interested in applying there. I like that it is integrated into the city to an extent but it also contained it privacy but I feel that there is not enough for me to do there. It do not seem as interesting as M.I.T. I do not know how to express it in words but at M.I.T. I get a vibe that I did not receive from any where else that we visited.

So far, I an considering Brown and M.I.T.

I know that I have to work extra hard to get into these schools but I will not feel discouraged. I feel that M.I.T. can be the right place for me and if I really do desire to attend it, I will strive for it.

By the way, my pictures are taking really long to load thus I will not be able to post them until tomorrow.

Our Day Exploring Colleges

We started off very early in the morning, everyone was exhausted already, but it was only the beginning. First thing we did was eat breakfast so that we would have sufficient energy because we'd be walking a lot and I mean a whole lot! We after about an hour drive we arrived at Tufts, where we gave ourselves a self-guided tour. Mr.Ramsey also stopped a few students to get more information about the campus and college. Arisa, a student from Tufts, informed us on numerous facts about the college. We learned that they have 5,000 undergraduate students, and it was a really small and quiet university. I personally prefer big and urban colleges, so Tufts was something different. Other then that, the campus was really beautiful and peaceful.

Next, we were off to MIT where we met up with a former WCCUDS student from Hercules High named Eric. He gave us a wonderful tour of the University and told us about the rigorous classes there. It seems extremely hard, if not impossible to get into MIT. Once again MIT was a really beautiful and scenic campus overlooking the Charles River. There was this really cool building called the Stata Center, it looked like something out of Dr.Seuss' storybooks. Because the tour was so interesting, it went on 30 minutes more then planned.

We eventually made it to Harvard where another former Hercules High student named Peter gave us a tour of the campus. It was really nice to finally be able to see more then just the front gate of Harvard, since the last time we went there it started raining thus ending our tour. I didn't realize that Harvard was so old, even though I knew it was the oldest University in the country. We saw many historical buildings, that have been there long enough to have housed the founding fathers. After the tour we went to the Harvard bookstore to get souvenirs and just explore. Lastly, we took a photo in front of the Harvard Crimson (Harvard's newspaper building) and we were off to Brown. The ride home was long and rainy, everyone was worn out. I think most of us came back and went to sleep so they could be refreshed for the dinner. I'll leave it off there, Till tomorrow!

A Day in Massachusetts

*I'll be editing this post soon to show the pictures I took today since I'm still learning how to add them.

This morning, at 8 am, we all met with Ms. Kent and Mr. Ramsey. After grabbing a bite to eat for breakfast, we were off to Massachusetts!

Our first stop was Tufts University. We didn't have an official tour, but we walked around the campus a bit and Mr. Ramsey even asked two students (Arissa, an upcoming junior, and Joanie, an upcoming freshman). The campus was truly beautiful with all of its greenery. We found out that there are 5,000 undergraduates going to this college and it is known for its international relations studies. I liked the fact that Tufts seemed like a quaint, private university. It is located in a peaceful environment, which I feel I may need to look for in a college so I won't get distracted from my studies. However, at the same time, it is only 15 minutes away from Boston. Thus, I wouldn't be missing the city life.

Next, we went to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where we met up with a Hercules High School '08 graduate, Eric Trac, who just finished his first year here. After eating lunch, he gave the group an excellent tour of MIT. We were able to see the outside of the dorms, the inside of a classroom, and the inside of a lecture hall. I found it interesting to walk through a tunnel that led to the classrooms, which was built since the administrators did not want students to have snow days whenever there was a horrible blizzard. Eric also told us about the Interphase program at MIT where admitted students can go to the campus for two months over the summer to get ahead if they felt their high school didn't prepare them for the fall. He told us he felt behind during his first semester of college and offered us some advice for the future, such as taking courses at a community college during high school. Eric also told us to stay motivated no matter how difficult college may seem.

Our last stop was in Harvard. We met up with another Hercules High School '08 graduate, Peter Hung, and his brother Henry who is currently taking summer classes there. He took us on a tour of the campus where we saw the Widener Library and the Harvard Crimson, where the school paper was made.

I felt today was extremely productive! We were able to see three prestigious universities and came back with a whole new sense of these colleges. I loved how we talked to WCCUSD students since they gave us pointers on how to prepare for college. Not only did I benefit from the college tours we took today, but I know I can show what I've learned to the others at home who do not get the wonderful opportunity to travel to the east coast and see these universities for themselves. We can also tell people about programs, like Interphase at MIT, which help students who may not feel confident when starting college.

Well, I must get ready for the dinner tonight where we will be meeting with Ms. Kronenberg, Zackery, and Tiffany!

Another Type of Learning Day

So today we all went to historic Massachusetts and visited three wonderful colleges: Tufts, MIT, and Harvard. Tufts was our first stop, and might I say, the campus was really gorgeous! The scenery was so green and beautiful.

Although we didn't have any guides or anything, Mr. Ramsey made sure to ask any passerbys if they could tell us a few things about the university. Luckily we found one student named Arisa who gave us a lot of helpful information. Tufts has about 5000 undergrads, which is just about the same size as Brown. There are only 10 required courses that you have to take, but other than that, you can choose your own. And studying abroad seems to be really popular, since about 40% of the students do it. Tufts doesn't seem like such a bad college.

Next on our list was MIT. This time we had a tour guide. An alumni from Hercules High class of '08 who had just finished his freshmen year. Although he wasn't an actual tour guide, he should have been because he gave us a lot of information and took us all around the campus. The first thing he showed us was the Kresge Auditorium, who's structure is 1/8 of a sphere. Next he talked about West Campus, which is primarily dorms, and East Campus which is where all the classes are held. All of the classes are classified by numbers. So if you taking Physics, you would just call it 8. There are 4000 undergrads, and in total there are about 10,000 students at MIT. MIT is a really prestigious school and academically grueling school. A lot of their students come from private New England boarding schools, that cost $40,000 a year. MIT had a lot of interesting qualities, such as the Strata Center and Green Building.

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Our final stop was prestigious Harvard, where our tour guide was also from Hercules, I think. Our first stop was the Harvard Yard, which was surrounded by the Main 8-all freshmen dorms. The rooms are actually suites which can fit up to 6 people. The majors are called concentrations and the minors are called secondaries. There are no fraternities or sororities, only houses. The Massachusetts Hall contains the office of the president and 12 students. I wonder how they were able to be in that position. Overall, Harvard was a very interesting school.

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All of the schools were very nice an different in their own way. While Tufts may be my least favorite due to the lack of hustle and bustle and excitement, it was a very serene and beautiful campus. Harvard is in the middle due to the lack of information we received about it. I wasn't really able to grasp what Harvard was like, but personal Google searching will be my key. MIT was my favorite because it was so eccentric and lively. The buildings were so creatively thought of and I can tell that even though the work will be rigorous, they have lots of fun up there.

I hope this blog suits everyone. Especially my pictures. Goodnight!

The Brown Contingent is Now Whole

Early this morning the last of our Brown cohorts gathered in front of El Cerrito High waiting for their chariot to whisk them off to SFO so they could join the rest of the Brownies who have been preparing Brown University for their coming.

Zackery Taylor and Tiffany Carter will be taking, respectively, Leadership for Social Change and Leadership and the Civil Rights Movement.

Escorting them back east, Ivy League Connection co-founder Madeline Kronenberg also joined them for the traditional departure photo before their Lincoln Town Car arrived at 3:00 AM to ferry them in style to await their plane.

Rather than flying directly to Providence, this group will fly to Boston where they’ll join the rest of the Brown contingent that will be touring historic Boston and visiting the many colleges and universities situated there. Later this evening, after experiencing the dining excellence that Boston offers, the group will take the train back to Providence to prepare for their studies.

Friday Night Lights

My morning began as usual except for one thing; I was extremely tired although I fell asleep an hour earlier than usual. I find that weird and interesting because I had to force myself out of bed at 8:43 (yes, I actually remember the exact time because I looked at my phone to see what time it was before I pulled myself together and got up). The first thing I did was peak out the window to observe the weather. I was really hoping for it to be sunny and warm and I figured it will probably be warm. Therefore, I threw on the summer clothes I was yearning to wear and met up with "the group" for breakfast.

After breakfast, we scattered to Smitty B. What I find interesting is that we always get there early but the room is always packed. I do not remember the class starting at 9:45. Last time I checked, it started at 10 but even so, we still get there by 9:50. We went to grab out seats and I started copying down the notes on the chalkboard. Our first lecture was about depression. We learned that there are two different types of depression episodes, major depressive episode and manic depression episode.

The symptoms of Major Depressive Episode are as following :
- Depressed mood
- diminished interest and pleasure in usual activities (anhedonia)
- Significant weight loss (more common), weight gain (less common) or change in appetite
- insomnia or hypersomnia
- agitation (fidgeting) or slowed down
- feel tired & lack of energy
- feel worthless or too guilty
- poor concentration
- thoughts of death/suicide

The symptoms of Manic Episode are as following :
- fantastic mood (or can also be irritable)
- inflated self-esteem (grandiosity)
- pressure to keep talking
- flight of ideals/ racing thoughts
- attention is all over the place
- doing many things at once
- excessive involvement in pleasurable activities (buying, seducing, starting crazy business)

I found out that depression tends to run in the family and coincidentally, the percentage of the types of people that are more likely to be diagnosed with depression is strictly similar to those of schizophrenia.

I discovered the difference between being a psychologist and a psychiatrist. In the older days, psychiatrist use to help deal with patients but now, they are in charge of the medication and diagnosis. Psychologists try to understand the patient's disorder and help rehabilitate them. Either way, both career fields are dealing with trying to help the mentally disabled.

I want to note something that Dr.J mentioned about depression. He said something I found really strange. He told us that he tends to worry about the Brown students that feel inclined to get straight A's and now I understand why. While going through my notes, the reasoning to his statement emerged from the strokes on my notebook. The students that are getting straight A's are the ones who are pressured to achieve. They rely so much on the stress to attain their goals that their world starts revolving around education and becoming "perfect." Then when they realize that they can never be perfect, they start feeling depressed and feel like they need to fail at something to know that they had hit rock bottom and cannot go any lower. This hypothesis totally changed my perspective on education and striving for the top. Of course it would be awesome to be on top but I want to feel free too. I do not want to spend my whole life trying to be "perfect" and please other people. Now, whenever I get a lower score on my tests that I expected, I will not feel like a complete failure. It is somewhat eccentric of me to say it but knowing that always trying to reach "perfection" and becoming an over achiever can be a bad thing because it can lead to depression.

Now, I will go to bed and wake up early for the trip to Boston. Rest assure that I will be taking numerous pictures to post up on the blog tomorrow. Until then, anticipate the coming of Meuy's photography.