Tuesday, August 4, 2015

A Mind of Infinite Wonders

If you were to have told me my freshman year of high school that I would have traveled across the country to study at one of finest universities in this country and world, I would have not believed you. If you were to have told me that I would do that two summers, I'd seriously doubt you. Well, now I am on the other side of those statements and I can't feel anything else but extremely grateful. Right up to now, I have not previously noticed how close my affiliation with the Ivy League Connection was. I was introduced to this as a shallow and insecure freshman, thinking that traveling  to the other side of the country without any family for just about a month and have come out of this experience as a seasoned, rising high school senior. What I have made of these experiences surpasses what I would have ever thought this program would do for me; I would have never even imagined such perspective as the one I have now gained through this program for that matter. What the ILC provided is truly invaluable. From pre-essays, course-specific essays, interviews, and failure, I can proudly say that this has been one of my greatest triumph as a high school student and young adult.

How could I have ever imagined myself going to a school across the country for college if I never would have thought that I would make it through a month alone? This program has expanded my horizons beyond what I would have imagined as a freshman. I would only think of leafless trees, snow, and cold weather at the thought of Ivy League schools. When I first went to Brown University last year, I was astounded at the beauty of the summer campus. I was astounded at the many great things at Brown. I marveled at the classrooms, the prestige, the surrounding city, the Open Curriculum, and even after going back and doing research after my Summer@Brown program, the many other qualities and benefits of a Brown education. It opened my mind to possible majors and overall a chance to engage in the world surrounding me. My experience there alone gave me an additional option of schools to apply to besides other top schools close to me like UC Berkeley, UC Davis, and Stanford. After my experience there, it gave me a glimpse of independence ad far as being away from home and basically obtaining a grasp at collegiate life far from home.

Similarly, I explored different places in the South through this year. One of the greatest ideals I think there is is having the gift and opportunity to travel. This program allowed me to do that more with the states and school we visited. Though Rice wasn't my cup of tea, I can still remember the active vibe along University Avenue, the laid-back quality of Rice Village, and the welcoming humidity upon our arrival. I also got the chance to visit a school that I once thought was totally not for me. It's so mind blowing, I can't even put it into words, how one visit can completely change your view on a school. At Emory, Atlanta, I found yet another school outside of California that I fell entirely for. From the majors and programs, to the uniqueness of their residence halls, to the city, the academics, professors, clubs, extra curriculars, traditions (like Wonderful Wednesdays), to their student initiatives, undergraduate focus, and plethora of further opportunities, I found a potential home for 4 years in Emory and I wouldn't have had that experience without the ILC. Being a part of the ILC has broadened my vision of my own academic future and has opened my mind to further pursue greatness through the excellence that the ILC reflects in its students' subsequent academic success. I feel less afraid and actually much more confident and comfortable in classroom settings with all the academic, social, and life skills obtained through my experiences on the East Coast in the South.

Through my classes, I have learned things from super in-depth studies in biotechnology and rising medical advancements such as gene therapy, yet I have also learned so much about the social, cultural, economic, and political sides attributed to health. Things like these have encouraged me to think not just in a scientifically or sociocentric lens, but through both. They have made me take interest in Human Biology (a fairly new major, which few schools, like Brown, offer), Global Studies, International Development Studies, Anthropology, Global Health, and sub fields of Biology like ecology, botany, herbalism, and environmental science. I know that though all are important, it is also very important to know the relationships between different focuses of study, making me lean towards taking on interdisciplinary majors or fields of study. These classes have further reinforced my ideals and vision of being able to use my knowledge and use it as advocacy for under-served community like mine. There's so much to learn out there, and these classes have only merely satisfied my curiosity for such pursuit of knowledge, rather these classes have further ignited the spark of interest that began a couple years ago when I has simply thought that all I wanted to be was an MD, dietitian, or dermatologist. They have have also encouraged me to want to somehow take action and apply and actually share all of my knowledge with others. Medicine, Health, and Society at Vanderbilt has so happened to reinforce my preconception that a lot of the beauty of a globally cultural perspectives are hidden by the promises and double-sword duplicity of Americanization.

As a result, MHS has made me want to advocate for more awareness on issues in the intersection between medicine, health, and society. Based on the professions I have previously mentioned, it can be said that I have had an interest in health, so what I have learned through this course has encourages me to build upon what I learned. As part of an assignment last year, I have come to form a club at school pertaining to health, so I find the combination of a new club and MHS as the perfect opportunity to do just that. Hopefully, as a senior, I have the skills to manage classes, an internship, several extra-curriculars, and clubs like this new project of a club I have made. Whatever the case, I know that even despite the circumstances, I will always carry a spark for these topics and the issues that comes from them wherever I go. My only hope after having this opportunity of learning what I have is that I can take it to a new level and add more meaning and purpose to them within my school and community.

If you were to have asked me what I wanted to be when I was younger or where I wanted to go to school, I would have said, "A doctor. UC Berkeley." That's really all I knew. Because of the growth I was able to experience through the ILC, I now have many more options as far as school and also have a newly gained perspective as to what I think I might want to pursue throughout my collegiate studies. I know that I might not only want to be a just a doctor. I have had a closer look at the systematic structures that sometimes limit the power and say that doctors get to make in practice. In the same way, I have also learned many alternative ways and topics of study that lead me to what I would consider for myself a fulfilling profession in regards to health. The ILC has given me an opportunity to get outside of the Bay Area and actually engage with people from all over the U.S. I would have never imagined that I would meet people and make friends from places like Philadelphia, Illinois, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Florida, and even places like China. it has given me the opportunity to heighten my abilities an ambassador for my community. I have also been able to hone my social skills and ability to meet with other like-minded and motivated individuals, an opportunity I do not take for granted. I truly feel blessed for everything- for these two summers of amazing experiences, new places, amazing cuisines, different environments, unique institutions, and diverse vibes. I don't know how I would have ever had the chance to take on something similar like this otherwise, but I can't even conceive the thought alone, because it brings be back to how I thankful and fortunate I actually am for being blessed with being chosen as being one of the selected few to take on these challenges and journeys. I can't believe I am where I am today through the help of the Ivy League Connection, but all I know is that I wouldn't have had it any other way. Words do not satisfy my gratitude and the true effect the Ivy League Connection has had on me. Perhaps I will live to know the future benefits of having been part of this, but for now all I know is that I feel like one of the luckiest people and first-generation college students for having the chance to do everything I have been blessed to be able to do. After two years with the ILC, I can't be happier with the path it has helped me step foot on. This has only been the first step in the many crossroads I'll embark on as a young mind full of infinite wonders. Perhaps it is true that some of the best things are yet to come, but I say I have lived some of the most beautiful, most invaluable moments and experiences of my life already. Thank you so much, Ivy League Connection. Thank you so, so much.
A piece of us stays back at VSA. Thank you for the opportunity, ILC.
Much love and gratitude.

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