The Ivy League connection is one of the many things that make the schools in the West Contra Costa Unified School District so unique. It gives students that otherwise may just consider local schools an opportunity to get out of the state and be immersed in the "college life" of a place they may never have otherwise considered. I was new to the school district as a freshman, so I only found out that it existed during the middle of my sophomore year. I remember sitting in the theatre, glancing around at the juniors and the other sophomores and being completely unaware of what I was going to...eventually get myself into. A handful of my peers stood on stage, talking about the experiences they had while being a part of the program and going over to the East Coast. I didn't really know any of them, but one of them was in my Advanced Theatre class, although I had never spoken to her before.
So, during a lunch break, a few days after the presentation I walked over to her and asked her all of the questions I had regarding Women and Leadership, since that was the program she had participated in that summer, and the one that intrigued me the most. She told me everything there was to know about the campus, the class and the program, and eventually our conversation turned to other things. She is now one of my best friends, and was the first person I talked to after I found out that I got the scholarship for Vanderbilt. I did not end up getting in for the Women and Leadership program, but I resolved to get into the ILC the next year. I had put a lot of effort into presenting my best self the previous year, but I somehow broke past that this year. This year, I prepared for the interviews from the day I found out that I was on the list of the seven people being considered, to the hour before the interviews were to be held. So, the first lesson that I learned through the ILC is that staying determined truly does pay off, and the other is that through the program, you can find people that you'll form strong bonds with, and I had the second lesson reinforced almost daily for three weeks since I met so many amazing people in Nashville.
I have always considered myself a fairly independent person, but I think I had the chance to prove it to myself while at VSA. I advocated for my opinions during classes, even when the general consensus about a subject tended to be leaning in the opposite direction. As strange as it may sound, I also learned that at least for me, eating three meals at the same time every day doesn't really work for me, and that I usually was only hungry enough for two, which may be helpful in about a year when I am choosing my meal plan. Although I have never found it hard to connect to people, being around so many like-minded individuals in a college setting was fantastic, and I can't wait to feel like that around this time next year.
I plan to be the kind of person that gets others excited about this program. I now have the experience necessary to help others figure out the skills they might need to get into this program, but my knowledge can extend past that. I can help my peers figure out what they might want in a college. I have done a few tours outside of the ILC, but after touring two schools with my cohort and spending so much time at Vanderbilt, I now know what I would probably enjoy in a campus. I think the thing that stood out to me the most were the schools in relation to the cities they were in. For example, at Rice and Emory, the campus is in one area. At Vanderbilt and UC Berkeley (for example) the campus blends in with the city. Before this trip, I did not really take that into account and just assumed that I would probably be happy, without regard to exactly where the campus was. I think that being able to experience what I do and do not like about a campus for myself was such a valuable experience.
Most of all, I want people in my community to be aware of how beneficial the Ivy League Connection is to students. I feel like since it is such an amazing program, other people my age should be able to experience it even if they don't live in the same area I do. Even though I have plenty of experience writing about my experiences, I think I find it hard to put the effect that being a part of this program this summer has had on me. I am incredibly grateful to the Ivy League Connection for all the wonderful things that they have exposed me to.
|From the first fabulous day of blogging...|
|To our (at this point mildly overused) final shot together.|
Thank you for the memories, ILC.