Friday, May 22, 2015

Endless Night of Smiles

All that I was looking to after school was the Vanderbilt dinner, so as soon as I was finished with my Forensics Speech and Debate meeting, I raced back home to change. I came home to see my mom ironing the clothes and was panicking over time because I knew that tardiness would not be tolerated. I made sure that my mom and I would arrive on time, if not earlier, to get to the El Cerrito Plaza Bart Station, so I took the wheel instead. 

Luckily, we arrived on time and found parking. We walked over to find Gwennie and her mom, Hummd and her mom, Arnold and his mom, Ms. Kronenberg, and Mr. Enos. Still waiting on Don, we all introduced ourselves to each other again. Once Don came, he explained how the dinner was going to work, making sure that Arnold was going to be giving his speech, and I would give mine to the School Board the next day. He handed out clipper cards, then we all waited until it was time to go upstairs and waited some more for the train to come.

We took a straight train to Powell, then walked around another 2-3 blocks.  As soon as we got off on our stop, I realized that we were in Union Square. The weather was typical for San Fransisco, a nice and cool breeze while the sun was still out, and it was full with plenty of people. There were a few unique plaques on the ground near the crosswalks. I felt like I was playing tourist because of all the pictures that I was taking. Finally, a sign reading Scala's Bistro pops up on the side, and this is where it all begins. 
Union Square
Scala's Bistro ft. Don Gosney

When we came, the tables still needed some more rearranging so Don let my cohort and I go on our own for ten minutes. Immediately, we all crowded on the stairs with a velvety, red carpet and had a few pictures taken by all of our parents. Then, someone wanted to find a bathroom so that allowed us to do some more exploring around the restaurant. It was really amazing how some of the decorations were detailed and eye capturing, going from fancy big red chairs to ceilings that were dome-shaped and painted as a portrait. Ten minutes went by quickly, but we all headed back down to our room and it was more full of people than we last saw. 

The meet and greets were my favorite part about the whole dinner. I really enjoyed talking with the Vanderbilt alumni Tyler Wallace and John Tilch, and more. They has graduated 8 years apart and from both of their views, Vanderbilt was still the same friendly, appropriately-sized school that offered four years of on-campus dorming. However, over the course of the 8 years, a lot has changed varying from school pride (growing bigger each year) to the culture and city outside of school gates. 

Soon enough, everyone was called to attention to find their seats and getting ready to order. At my table, were coincidentally John and Tyler, my mom, Mr. Enos, and Mr. McQuarrie. Ms. Kronenberg started out with the introductions and then had each ILCer introduce themselves. After the introductions of Arnold, Hummd, Gwennie, and I, the Vanderbilt alumni did the same. It was really interesting to have people from each part of the country to have attended Vanderbilt, and most of them said the same thing when asked about their favorite thing about the university. I am under the impression that Vanderbilt has a great environment filled with each individually, qualified students that makes the school just the right size, big enough that you would still run into new faces, but small enough that you will get closer with a majority of the students. From hearing these magnificent compliments about Vanderbilt, I was (and am) more excited than ever to see the school and experience everything for myself. I even got recommendations to go to a few places that are worth seeing. 

As the salads were being passed around, I learned more about Tyler's and John's post-college experience, and how they both wanted to have the same experience again by going to San Fransisco. Nashville was something new for the both of them and after graduating it wasn't the same and they wanted to see new horizons and expand to where similar experiences can be made. John's perspective definitely changed when he came to Vanderbilt, he used to hate country music but it had gotten switched around now because that's what he really associates with Vanderbilt. Listening to the both of the alumni talk about how they knew Vanderbilt was the one for them was really interesting, like John had visited the campus at night and already was set on it, and Tyler thought the same when he found out about the school's size and majors that were offered. Somewhere between all of this, the salads were finished and our steaks were being passed around in the table. I really learned a lot more about the school because people who actually experienced the whole college life there spread the spirit around at this dinner. I learned that even though Vanderbilt is known for having a top medical hospital, there are plenty of majors to go around that leads to lifetime careers after graduating from there. 

The steak was really delicious and very tender. Everyone at my table seemed to really enjoy it, and as everyone was finishing up, I was able to talk to Mr. McQuarrie. I discovered that he was the head of constructing De Anza High School, El Cerrito High School, and the reconstruction of mine, Pinole Valley High School. My mom and him were conversating about our culture and his time in Vietnam as well as other countries. He asked me about my extracurricular activies, and I told him one of which I was going to be the drum major of the marching band next year, and interestingly enough, he was also a drum major for three years! I genuinely really enjoyed talking to all at my table, there were so many new things that I was glad to listen to and learn from, and also meeting everyone. 
Medium Rare New York Steak With Snap Peas and Potatoes
Overall, the whole dinner was really amazing and worth getting home past 11 p.m. I got to talk with a Pinole Valley alumni from the dinner also, Casey Word. It was nice to know that she had the same APUSH teacher as I currently do, and I even passed on her card to him. I noticed that Vanderbilt alumni have many connections and from talking with Casey about my future potential career choice, a pharmacist, and she passed on my contact information to her friend, who is also a pharmacist, to answer any questions that I may have.
One of the many photos that were taken during the night with us soon-to-be Vanderbilt students and alumni.

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