Saturday, July 11, 2009

Reflection take two

Its seems like ions ago that i first stepped onto the campus of Brown University. In reality, its only been three weeks, yet I feel like a new person.

At the beginning of the three weeks, I was hesitant to answer questions, scared that I would be wrong. I didn't feel like I could compete with these kids who were so smart and dedicated. I was scared to ask the instructor for help, because I thought she would think I was stupid. I was scared to talk to people that I didn't already know. I was scared of being myself, because I might not impress these amazing people.

At the end of the three weeks, I find myself answering questions confidently or at least proposing possibilities when I'm unsure. I feel like I can compete with these kids, but the more important thing is, I don't have too. At Brown, people know everyone else is intelligent. People are willing to give people the chance to be interesting and engaging. Its as if people realize that they competed to get into the program, and now everyone must be there for a reason. I found myself asking the teacher for extra help, asking her for clarification. I realized that people are there to help you, people generally want to help you, but they aren't going to go out of their way to give it to you. I realized you have to ask for help, and its okay to ask for help—its a sign of intelligence, not weakness. I find myself introducing myself to strangers, just because its a more interesting way to live.

This is what I can bring back to El Cerrito— the confidence to be myself. So many students don't ask questions, or don't try because its the cool thing to do. People who don't do work are rebels. People who ask for help are losers. But that's not really the case. Everyone at Brown was open about their shortcomings, they were open about not understanding things, they were open about asking for help. If El Cerrito High could develop a culture like this, I can only see positive changes coming about.

The Ivy League Connection has given me this amazing opportunity to become a new person. It has given me the opportunity to struggle, to fight, and to conquer. Also, it has reminded me that just because the WCCUSD doesn't have the best reputation, it still has people who care about the students, who want them to succeed, and will do everything possible to help them (even when we don't feel like we're being helped).

I'd like to thank everyone who has made my time at Brown (and Cornell) possible. It has been a life changing opportunity for me, and I sincerely hope you will continue to make this experience available for students in our district. And in twenty years, you can sit back and relax, while we take over the show.

Because I can assure you, we're going to be a big deal.

Each and every one of us.

Its been fun,
Joseph Young


This summer has meant a lot to me. Maybe it's too early to say that because it's only been the first month but if the rest of my summer goes like my experience at Brown, I wouldn't have the words to describe it.

My summer at Brown has been a growing experience. I've learned so much about myself and what I'm looking for in a college. I feel like I've learned so much these past three weeks. I learned things like I like a college that is about the size of Brown. I need classes to have a lower teacher to student ratio. I like being close to big towns. I would never have learned these things, had it not been for the ILC. I thought I would like bigger classes, and a campus like UC Berkeley but it turns out that I don't.

Where would I have been without the ILC? Would I even have thought of schools like Brown? Without the impact of the ILC in my life, I would be at home right now, sitting around and doing nothing with my summer. I doubt I would be trying new things everyday like I am here at Brown or meeting any of the great people that I've met here. Thanks to the ILC, I've been able to experience life in the fast lane on the east coast. It is unlike life on the west coast, that's for sure.

I went to the University of Pennsylvania last year and the two experiences can not be more different. The campuses, the environments and the cities are totally different. UPenn was a busy city, integrated into Philedelphia. Everybody was always busy, always doing something. Brown is more relaxed, located in Providence. The streets aren't as busy and the campus is really beautiful. I had a good time at UPenn because there was always something to do, but I found that at Brown, you had a lot more time to yourself and to your friends. Our class at Brown was only 3 hours, as opposed to the 6 hours at UPenn so that definitely plays a role in the amount of free time we had. But overall, I think I can honestly say that I like Brown more because I can see myself going here in the fall of 2010. The people here are dedicated to learning, which is what I admire the most.

Thanks to the ILC, I've gained a better sense of self. I've learned more about myself by getting out of my comfort zone and I would definitely encourage others to do the same. I want my friends to get the same experience that I am getting and I want them to benefit from it like I did. I want to inspire them to go places, like I'm sure they can if they put their minds to it. This is all thanks to the ILC. So, thank you all for your generosity, your caring hearts and your devoted attention. Thank you.

Good-Bye Brown

The time has just flown by, we're all packed and ready to leave tomorrow afternoon. I have gained so much from this experience, more then I'd think I could attain in just three weeks. I mean it was a similar experience as last year, but that extra week just makes it feel more lasting. I feel that I have truly grown a lot and learned to become more independent. Like they say, the bird has finally left the nest. Even though I'll come back, I know what it's like to be out there without my parents.

Independence is a key quality for students how attend colleges far away from home. You can't go home and have mom cook for you; you're on your own. I'm able to say that I can handle being away and can depend on myself. Being in this program has changed me for the better. That's what every student needs, a little independence. Without it they won't be able to survive. I think that is what holds some students, in my school, to nearby Universities instead of Ivy Leagues and colleges on the East Coast. They have to know that it's okay to be on their own, and all of the students in the ILC are perfect examples. We all have to reach out and get the timid students to step out of their comfort zones, so they can see that there are other choices out there.

Multiple students enter college without ever having the chance to experience the college life. I was in the Introduction to Psychology and human Behavior class, and let me tell you, we didn't have regular high school reading. I think the hardest part for most students is the jump from regular high school to the rigorous college work. Being at Brown gave me the opportunity to see just how big of a jump it would be, I mean I'm sure there was more homework to it, but it was definitely a different amount of reading. College life isn't only the homework, it' being able to balance our time and living in dorms, you just have to be multi-talented. Living in the dorms gave me a look at how close everyone gets and just how hectic it gets when five people want to shower at the same time. But it's in the dorms where you bond with others and learn to depend on them in one way or the other. The most difficult part is learning to balance your time between work and social events. At first it was really hard to adjust to, but once I got it down I was able to do a lot more. That's just what's so great about living on a college campus, you get to see into the future and gain skills that you have otherwise.

I was given the opportunity to change and become a better person, whether it was becoming independent or living the college life. Now I want to go back and make sure my peers are aware of this program and the wonders it can do for you! It would be like I was mentoring them in some way. Everyone is capable of doing anything if they are given a chance, and that's what students at Richmond High need, a chance. And of course with the help of programs like the ILC they will be able to succeed. Thank you everyone who has made this trip possible. I am extremely grateful; I've learned so much more then I would have at Richmond High. It also opened my eyes to all these colleges which is just as good as the UCs, I'm very proud to say that I have been there and done that. Thank you once again!


There was definitely lots of knowledge to be gained this past week.

Coming to the East Coast for the first time I did not know what I had coming.
Being the top student in all my science class in RHS has my confidence way up high, and Brown did a great job in bringing me down to reality. Like I said before it was a slap in the face. This definitely hit my confidence hard but I did not let my lack of resources stop me. I read each chapter twice before and after the lecture, asked the TA's for extra help and of coarse asked Dean Thompson for help. I believe that I learned more in these past three weeks than I did in a year in my freshman biology class.

Coming to Brown really changed my way of thinking, writing, drawing, and viewing things. Now whenever I see certain things I relate them back to science like when I look at tie die I see compact bone, when I see jeans I think of muscle stritations, and now I cannot look at cats the same way I used to.

Dean Thompson definitely filled up my brain with much useful knowledge. She not only thought us Histology but she also helped us improve our public speaking skills, our research skills, and she helped us learn try to apply what we learn in class to the outside world.

This coming year I am confident that I will do so much better in school because of this experience. I became more studious by getting into the habit of taking notes in class, doing HW right after I got to my dorm, and because this course challenged me I will not complain about how "hard" the class work is.

I will most definitely share my experience with other students who are going to attend pre-college programs but I will also share it with those who are interested in attending college. Because yes its going to challenge you and yes you will have a hard time but in the end it is all worth while because you work harder hence you learn more.

The Experience...

...doesn't end right here.

There are still tons of things that are going on that will add to what's happened in the last few weeks - college apps mostly. After going through two summers of hard coursework, great people, and new insights, there are a ton of experiences that can be shared and should be shared so that everyone can also get the most out of the college search.

The last 3 weeks have been growing experiences for me - well I'm only 17, I should be growing in everything I do. This year, I've been able to maintain that relaxed atmosphere of summer, but still find challenges in classwork and in college searches. Like I've said in previous posts, I've got a pretty good idea of what I like and dislike in a college, and I'm able to use those tastes to discern and identify colleges that would provide a good learning environment for me. After all, everyone is after one thing: Knowledge.

The college search is like a cryptogram. They all have the same message, "Knowledge," but each school has a different cipher, a different way of encoding that message. Some code it through a core curriculum, some code it through freedom of choice. Some present it as intense academia, some present it as vibrant social scenes. In all these cases, the code may seem arduous and imposing to decipher, but we all have our own "key" which can decode the message they're trying to send. That key is an accumulation of personal experiences, of hopes and dreams, of failures and tears, of frustration, of peace; each is a unique solution to the cipher. Our key may work faster or easier at cracking the one code than another, and maybe their will be a school which we can un-mystify immediately.

But the only way to really know which college is good for us is to look into who we are as a person and make a decision based on what we want. Although prestige is something that when given a passing glance, can make or break the decision whether or not to apply to a school, it's not everything. If someone wants to apply based on prestige, go for it, they can't go wrong with a big name school in terms of education. But after meeting with Mercedes today over lunch to talk about admissions, I believe that to get the most knowledge out of an institution, one must be proactive in that quest for knowledge and learn about the school before applying there. There are too many cases of students applying to 10+ schools because they all have good *fill in the blank* programs. And in the end, when they get into some of these schools, they realize that most of the schools they had applied to, if they knew more about them, they would never want to go to.

In the end, for myself, I don't want to turn burnout doing college apps. From learning about the mistakes of others and combined with the positive experiences I've had, I'm going to be starting early on apps, not applying to too many schools, not adding a school to the list because it "sounds good" or because "I might at least try"; I'm pretty set on only applying to the schools that I want to go to. I want to avoid the mishaps that comes from not having a clue about what I'll be doing, and I want to make sure the people around me don't do anything ridiculous either.