Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Early, Anxious and Picture Perfect

The school board meeting was to be held in the cafeteria in Lovonya Dejean Middle School at 6:30 PM on May 25th. 

I was among the first to arrive the location and waited with ILC member Diana Ramirez until everybody began to arrive. Once everybody did arrive, we gathered around Don while he explained what was to occur for our segment of the school board meeting and what we were suppose to do. 

This day was the day that we were to present ourselves in front of the school board members and thank them for their generosity in helping fund our summer programs in the Ivy League schools. 

A beautiful picture taken by my great mentor, Shasa Curl.
After Don finished speaking to the ILCers and Chaperons, we were seated with our cohort and our school banner. I sat up front and took pictures with my cohort and chaperon until it was announced that the school board meeting was going to start.

The meeting began and the IVY League Connection was to go up and present to the School Board first. I became nervous as all of the other cohorts and chaperons stood and presented. I felt myself begin to shake and felt a rush of anxiety fill my brain. I don't know whether it was that we were to stand in front of the School Board members or whether it was that this meeting was to be televised, maybe it was a mixture of both. But like all other instances where I felt nervous, all ended up working well. 

We were asked to stand, and stood we did.
My group went up and I heard people scream and cheer as our names were announced along with the programs we were to take in Vanderbilt this summer. My groups chaperon introduced us and announced the places that we were to visit before our programs start. Ms. Thomas announced that we were to visit Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, The University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and Columbia University located in Manhattan, New York. I was ecstatic once it was announced that we were going to visit these universities. I have never traveled farther east than the border between California and Nevada. Getting to visit and stay in Vanderbilt University located in Nashville Tennessee is beyond wonderful. With these news, I am looking forward to my summer even more.

After this, cohort member Edward Hernandez went up and thanked the school board members for the amazing opportunity that is The IVY League Connection.

After all groups presented, Don quickly directed us outside where we were suppose to take a group picture with our parents, Chaperons and ILCers. Don took a couple dozen pictures to make sure that there were a few perfect ones . We sat outside for what seemed and eternity in a very uncomfortable position and tried to look presentable with the wind blowing our hair across our faces.

Once Don finished taking the group pictures, we all scattered about and split into smaller groups to take even more pictures. This day was fun and could have not gone any better. Well, the only thing that could have been improved was the sea of angry dressed in blue shirts. Once the ILC group left, we left the anarchy between the school board and the people.

A group picture with the Ivy League Connection family.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Flash! Pictures and the School Board

Komal and my photoshoot
My mother, brother, and I rushed over to Rite-Aid to pick up Komal Kumar (from the Brown cohort) and her mother. We all drove together to the school board meeting, getting lost and stressing along the way. Once we got there, we were relieved to see that we were early and so we decided to do a small photoshoot. Then, Komal and I separated into our cohorts and started talking until it was time to sit down.

My Vanderbilt cohort and I began helping Edward, who had to give a speech in front of the huge crowd and slightly intimidating School Board. This productive conversation lasted a few minutes as we switched to talking about Japanese and other languages. Soon, it was time to sit down in the front row with Ms.Thomas. Don handed us our Vanderbilt flag and the four of us wore it over our legs as a blanket. I especially found it very warm and comforting since I was wearing a skirt. Then, Ernestina came over to us, and Jae-An and I talked with her. We had a very hilarious conversation and the laughs continued, as you can see from the pictures we took down below. 
The cohort with our comfy flag/blanket
The cohorts went up one by one, gave their speeches, and posed for pictures. Everyone had given amazing speeches, thanking all the sponsors, Don, the School Board, and everyone supporting us—because they all can't be thanked enough for all that they have done for us! After that, we all went outside and Don took pictures of all the students, parents, and chaperons in front of a nice brick wall. Everyone split into small groups after and had another huge photoshoot. (Everyone looked so nice that it was impossible to not take as many pictures).

Only some of us had gotten the joke
Hercules High ILCers from left to right: Ryan Cutter, Ernestina Hsieh, Komal Kumar, and me

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

This Time, a Different Kind of Meeting

If arriving last were a competition, I would hold the title as grand champion of all time. Seriously, this is starting to weigh on my mind, so I guarantee that at the next ILC event - the orientation - I will get there before. We'll see how it turns out next time, I guess.

The whole gang + Ernestina! I'm very excited, as you can see...
Anyways, today was the district School Board meeting, where the ILC would be presenting this year's cohorts. As mentioned, I arrived the latest out of the cohort, but since the meeting wasn't scheduled to start until 6:30, everyone sort of just mingled about. We (Vanderbilt people) all mostly stood in one corner helping Edward, our cohort's speaker, practice his speech. One completely random thing that I noticed was that we were grouped in threes in several different ways: there were three juniors in the group, three of us were taking Engineering in Adaptive Technologies, three of our names started with the letter 'J,' three of us wore glasses, and so on. Soon, we found our seats and continued to talk before the board meeting started; Jahnvi, Ernestina (From the University of Chicago cohort), and I had a very...interesting conversation.

The actual board meeting itself, or at least the time that we spent in the auditorium, seemed to zoom by. After a few opening remarks, each cohort went up, and the chaperone introduced the students and the classes they would be taking. Then a student from the cohort spoke, and there really were some good speakers. Enough to make me jealous, at least! When it was our turn to go up to the podium, I thought that I saw a smile of recognition from School Board member Mr. Todd Groves, whom I had the pleasure of learning from at Math Club back in middle school. Anyhow, I thought that Edward did an admirable job with his speech.

Afterwards, we headed to a courtyard to take a group photo - parents, chaperones, and all. I don't know about you, but when I take photos, it's one shot and a done deal; after positioning everyone perfectly, Don took a whopping 25 photos in total, to make sure that everything was picture perfect. (Hah...get it?)

Today's school board presentation really reminded me how much other people have had to work to make the Ivy League Connection happen, year after year. I just wanted to give a huge shout-out to all those who again made this possible, including: the school board, the sponsors, Ms. Kronenberg, Don, and anyone else I didn't mention. Thank you!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Laughing, Eating, Meeting

I window shopped all the stores along the walk to Zachary's Pizza, since this was a part of Berkeley I had never seen before. I met Ms.Thomas outside the restaurant as everyone else arrived just a few minutes after. We all then went inside and shared a table.
The tasty Caesar salad

Luckily, I wasn't the only vegetarian: Jacqueline didn't eat any red meat. We both ordered the same items and shared our food. We first stuffed down a tasty Caesar salad, which contained breadsticks that everyone believed to be choptsticks that is, until we took a bite out of them. 

Ms.Thomas brought twelve questions for us all to answer aloud one by one. I got to discover a lot about everyone in this process. We all learned about each others' plans in the future and what our favorite bands and colors are. I found that we all had a few things in common: we all were afraid of the heat that might meet us in Tennessee. We then realized that we were very spoiled when it came it to the weather. 

Pizza slice with all its spices
Jacqueline and I bought a Pizza Blanca that had a nice garlic flavor and perfect seasoning. The others ate a special pizza that contained meat. We continued sharing about ourselves and laughing while eating pizza. Our conversation then ended up on dreams we had and strange things we all do in our sleep. Soon, it was time to leave and we grabbed our leftovers while Ms.Thomas paid.
The Vanderbilt cohort after eating

The battle between five humans and two pizzas

I left school twenty minutes after the bell rang to start heading over to Zachary's Chicago Pizza. I wanted to make sure that I didn't have to encounter traffic on the way, thus I left quite early. It was 3:40 PM when I left and I had to be at the restaurant by 5:00 PM.  

I arrived the location earlier than I anticipated. I remained in front of the restaurant one hour early. I sat in a truck under great heat. I sweated immensely and soon came to the conclusion that the truck was hotter than the outside environment. I decided to get out the truck and walk towards the restaurant until I saw that Ms. Thomas and Jahnvi were already standing in front of it. Once I greeted them, Edward arrived and Jae-An followed.

Delightful Caesar Salad

We went into the restaurant and were seated immediately. We ordered two pizzas and received more than enough drinks. Janhvi and I also shared a delightful Caesar Salad with two thin pieces of bread sticks which where placed within the seasoned pieces of Romaine lettuce. While we waited for the two pizzas to arrive, we all answered a questionnaire.

They gave us water
and lemonade
After we answered the questionnaire, we shared our answers and got to know each other better. The questions ranged from the farthest we have traveled to whom our favorite famous person was. It was very pleasant getting to know the people in which I will be traveling with during the summer. 

The Lemon was delicious
The two pizzas arrived and we quickly dug in. Our topic of conversation soon switched to deranged dreams that we have all had in the past. It was quite funny. Time quickly passed and it was soon time to go. We grabbed our leftovers, Ms. Thomas paid for our meals and we soon headed out of the restaurant. We took pictures as a cohort and said our good-byes.

Meet and Greet with the Peeps

Questioning Why I Got 
There Seconds Before Him
The weather was hot as I drove up Solano Ave in Albany. I saw my chaperone, Ms. Thomas, along with Jahnvi in front of Zachary’s. My dad dropped me off and I walked over to them in my pink shirt. By the time I got there, Jackie had appeared, and Jae-an was only a few seconds behind me. Turns out most got there at the exact same time.

Filling Out Questionnaires
We went in and Ms. Thomas had brought a questioner for us to talk about while the pizza was being made. The questions varied from: have you ever flown in a plane before, to what is our favorite famous person. It was really fun being able to learn about my cohorts, and chaperone as well because we didn’t let her off the hook.

Jahnvi(left) &Thomas(right)
Before we had anything to eat, we all got something to drink. We found that the pizza place had quite a sense of humor because of their funny jokes written down on the menu and wall. Jahnvi and Jackie shared a Caesar salad. We didn’t know what to get and we talked about what the final decisions were, so we decided to get two pizzas, the Zachary Special, and Pizza Blanca, both of which were delectable. 
Delectable Pizza
We stayed and talked for quite a while because we got there at 5 and left about an hour and half later at around 6:30. It was an enjoyable time and I feel that our time in Vanderbilt will be a rich experience for all of us.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Eat and Greet

Getting out of the car, I breathed a sigh of relief: I wasn't the last one to arrive at Zachary's Chicago Pizza; Edward still hadn't arrived. Humming merrily to myself, I walked across the street - only to find that Edward had mysteriously appeared out of thin air, making me again the last member of the cohort to arrive.

A pleasant ambiance in an empty room; it filled up later.
Today was our cohort's get-together, intended for us to get to know each other as well as our chaperone Ms. Thomas better. I felt like I knew everyone pretty well already, or could at least get along with them, but this was a good opportunity to get more comfortable as a group. We started off by filling out a small questionnaire about ourselves, and shared our answers. I learned a lot about our group, from things like our favorite actors to some of our concerns for the summer to weird morbid dreams that we had.

I really enjoyed talking with my cohort today, and definitely will enjoy traveling with them this summer. Thank you to the ILC and Ms. Thomas for organizing this!
Wow...I guess smiling just isn't my forte.
I did have a ton of fun talking to these guys though!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Becoming Bloggers

I woke up at 6:50 AM, got ready, and ran out the door with a PB&J sandwich.  I got there earlier than expected and sat in the front row of computers with my friends. Soon, the tutorial started and Don began teaching us how to blog with proper formatting. He had us make a random practice blog, which we all enjoyed. After pressing random letters on the keyboard and writing about very irrelevant things, we all published our blogs. However, many people were having technical problems with editing a blog. For example, my friend Ernestina had to go outside to write a practice blog on her cellphone because the computers wouldn't allow her to. 

Afterwards, we grabbed Don's cameras and cellphones to take pictures outside. Some of us took artsy pictures of objects while others took group photos and sent them to each other. It was a fun
From left to right: me, Komal, Ernestina
break outside where we all let out the energies we had to contain while listening to instructions from Don. We then added these pictures to our old blogs and everyone laughed as we saw each others' creative  add-ons.  

Don then began telling us about all things we would need for the trip and what he could loan us. He moved on to telling us how to properly behave for the rest of the program and we all listened to every word from him.

The ILCers


Dinner with the Winners

I walked towards the Bart Station with my father and suddenly the nervousness crept to me. What if I embarrassed myself horribly in front of all these important alumni and sponsors? I pushed it aside as I met my chaperone, Alexis Thomas, and began talking to her. Soon everyone else arrived and we were on our way to San Francisco. I sat with our chaperone on the way there and we had a lot of fun talking about traveling, clothes, and other random things. 

We got to the restaurant and the alumni slowly started to pour in as we talked to each of them. As they all introduced themselves with their successful and inspirational careers, the nervousness for my speech came back again. 
Talking to alumni

However, the speech went well, and I was happy with the result. The others began with their speeches and I found Eppa Rixey's speech on how his personal life was changed from Vanderbilt to be very influential. At the table, I sat directly in front of him and Lucas Scholl. Eppa Rixey and his adorable fiancĂ©, Maggie Durlacher, are both engineers in fields that I am very interested in.  Eppa Rixey is a mechanical engineer, but he currently works as someone who solves marketing issues for companies. From Maggie Durlacher I learned that you could choose and create your own path in engineering at college. She had taken this route because she loved biology and engineering, which are two fields I also can't choose between sometimes. I also spoke with David
Eppa Rixey giving his speech
Sanchez, someone who had changed his major three times at college. It made me realize that not all plans have to be set in stone since the beginning in order to be successful. 

I learned about the application process and eventful college life at Vanderbilt from all the alumni.  They all also told me hilarious stories from their college years, which made me even more excited to attend college! 

The Vanderbilt alumni and my cohort

Computers, Dark Circles, Red Vines, and Massive Packets

My day started with my alarm sounding on the floor near my bed. "Not again,"I thought to myself. My day miserably started at 5 in the morning. I laid still on my mattress contemplating of how little sleep I got the day before. "This is not healthy," I thought to myself, Yet I was unable to listen to my mind telling me to go to sleep once more. I sure did not want to see happy Don turn into Guantanamo Don if I arrived late to today's tutorial.

I slowly lifted the blankets and got out of bed and felt the cold wooden floor beneath my feet. I tried to walk as quietly as I could to reach my closet and find comfortable clothes to wear, but instead woke up the whole neighborhood.

I was ready by 6 AM and realized that I still had an hour extra that may be used to go back to sleep. I woke up one last time at 7 AM and gathered my notepad and five different pens. I left my house around 7:30 AM  and managed to arrive at De Anza High School before 8:00 AM.

 ILC banner in all its glory
I walked passed the gates where the Ivy League Connection banner was held and walked into the computer lab. I saw the room nearly full and decided to sit with four familiar faces. I sat with Aimee Cortez, Edward Hernandez, Diana Ramirez, and Mauricio Morfin. They were all familiar faces because we all attend Richmond High together.

As I sat in front of the black screen waiting for Don to give further instruction, I looked around the room. I noticed that we were all sleep deprived. I knew that to be true because we all had dark circles under our eyes. I look towards the front of the classroom and saw a table full of snacks. Don soon announced that we are able to walk towards the table and collect energy in the form of sugar and diabetes. My eyes dilated once I laid my eyes upon the container that held dozens of red strands that looked more like vines. Well, that's because they were Red Vines. I clenched my fists and used the last bit of energy I had to walk up to the snack stand and grab a couple of Red Vines. While I was at it, I also grabbed a couple of cookies, a bag of chips, and a bottle of water. I went back to my seat.

Don soon gave us three thick packets and one loose paper that contained all of the material that he was to review today, We quickly got down to business. Don reread the list of "I Understands", and began talking about two types of blogs. He talked about good blogs and bad blogs and also taught us how to correctly format and add pictures to our blogs to make them look professional and interesting. We were soon instructed to write a practice blog in which I briefly explained how I ended up in the computer room writing a blog. After the whole explaining process and once we had all written our blogs, Don loaned us a set of cameras to take pictures.
Goofy Picture

We all spent our twenty minute break taking funny pictures and some serious ones. Once the time ended, we went back into the computer lab and imported them into the computers and added them to the blog. After this was accomplished, Don changed the subject and began talking about loaner items.
He led us through a large packet of all of the materials that may be provided or lent by the ILC and then talked about the trip itself.

Serious PIcture
The tutorial was very productive and full of information. I now have a proficient understanding of how to blog and have a better idea of what to expect while at my summer program. Don explained, and we listened attentively. The dark circles under our eyes will be temporary, whereas the information given to us today by Don will be held by the computer that is the human brain.

Blogging 101 with Don Gosney

I woke up this morning knowing very well I had to be present in from of Don for the tutorial he set up for us at De Anza high school. The problem was, I woke 30 min before I had to be there. I quickly got up and my father was awake so we hopped in the car and drove off. We got to DE Anza surprisingly on time, five minutes early, in fact, considering that we both had never been there and it was early. Don went through what we were going to do as well as made us aware of the two exceptions of students that were not going to be with us because of prior events.

Jumping is not my thing
Everything was going well and we go to go outside where we took pictures of ourselves and one another, and I learned that I am not too good with jumping photos. We had a small break where everyone grabbed some chips and cookies. People are very creative. We ran into a problem with not being able to access Mediafire from the school computers, Mauricio and I tried to get things to work, but sadly we couldn’t. At least we fixed up one of the monitors on the computers

Outside photo session

In the last session of the tutorial Don gave us a breakdown that included what we should bring to the universities with us and loaner luggage that would make it less of burden for us. It was really fun, I initially thought it was going to be a drawn out single sided conversation on Don, but we all shared laughs and had a blast.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

An Amazing Dinner at Town Hall

Ever since I was admitted into the Vanderbilt Program through the ILC, I have heard Don talk about this "amazing" dinner that was to be held near the end of the school year. One week after the event, which was held Monday May 9th, I aware of why Don called it so amazing.

The day of the event was like any other day- well, minus the event. I went to school like usual and got out of school at 3:30 PM. I walked home and changed into the clothes purchased the day before and took off to the El Cerrito Plaza Bart Station with my chaperon, Angelica Arriaga, and former ILC member, Arnold Dimas. I remember telling Angie and Arnold that I felt nervous and sick to my stomach. This feeling was not new to me at all. I remember feeling this way the day of the Vanderbilt interview. But just like the interview, all went well.

We arrived the Bart station approximately 10 minutes before the desired departure time, which was 5:10 PM, and met with the rest of the cohort, their parents, Don Gosney, Madeline Kronenberg, and my cohort's chaperon for the summer program, Ms. Thomas. Don quickly explained how we would reach the location and what we should expect at the dinner. He then gave each person a Clipper card and we them boarded the train towards San Francisco.

On our way to the dinner, we were encouraged to speak to any of the adults that accompanied us. I sat down with Arnold and he told me what I should expect at Vanderbilt this summer. He also spoke of his two-year experience within the Ivy League Connection. All was wonderful until I heard Don firmly say "This is our stop." We all quickly rose from our seats in a synchronized manner and walked out of the train like robots following Don's voice and footsteps. 
We finally got out of the Embarcadero station and walked two blocks to the luxurious Town Hall restaurant. 
"Best seat in the house" 

Introducing myself to the attendees
As we waited to be seated we spoke with the Alums and sponsors. Angie, Arnold and I spoke to Alex Sweet, whom attended the prestigious Vanderbilt University. He cracked a joke or two and we all laughed. He was very sociable and admirable. 

Don soon sent us to our assigned seats and we began to introduce ourselves. We were at a long table with approximately 16 people. It took a while before Don was able to speak again and introduce the speakers for the event. We first heard from Jahnvi Doshi, fellow cohort member, and after heard from Arnold. They both spoke in regards to how the Ivy League connection has opened new opportunities for them. Listening to Jahnvi talk about her school's Robotics team, and Arnold speak of his journey through the two years of being in the program, it was challenging to maintain a stern complexion.

Shortly after the presentations, I heard a clatter of plates and glass and I soon saw the workers set food down on the table. We all quickly began to feast in a sophisticated manner while engaging in conversation.

I spoke with David Sanchez, alum from Vanderbilt, and he spoke of the amazing job he holds in promoting start-up businesses in Google. I was very impressed and very astonished with all that he was able to accomplish after graduating from Vanderbilt. I also spoke with another alum, her name was Casey Word. She talked about her career and how often she gets to travel. I hope to be able to have that opportunity once I start my career. Through the lengthy conversation I held with David and Casey, I realized how achievable my dreams are if I keep in maintaining this great path I have paved for myself with the aid of so many wonderful people. This was when I realized why Don had called the Dinner so amazing, not just because of the food, it was mostly because of the many connections made with alums from the University in which I will be visiting this summer. I cannot stress how thrilled I am to continue my journey from the other side of the country!

Wonderful Cohort members and Alums

A Productive Morning

Today was a Saturday, and in honor of the weekends, I ended up sleeping in until noon…I wish. Instead, I woke up at a back-breaking 6:40 to arrive in time to De Anza High School, where today’s ILC blog tutorial was taking place.

Relearning how to take photos can be perplexing.
By the time I arrived at the high school computer lab, most of the best seats were taken, so I settled for a spot off to the side, behind my fellow Vanderbilt cohort-mate Jahnvi and Ernestina, who will be going to the University of Chicago this summer. Before Don (today clad in his usual aloha shirt and sandals) began the tutorial, we worked a little bit on creating and updating our blogger profiles while talking to each other.

The tutorial itself seemed to last an eternity – since I had already gone through the process before, everything was already very familiar. But you can never be too sure when it comes to formatting on Blogspot, so I paid close attention. After numerous technical problems involving user profiles, logging in, and faulty computers, we finally got through the tutorial.

Today's session really reminded me how close and real this opportunity is, and I truly cannot wait for the day when we depart.

If this were on fire, would you call it a firewall?

A Meal With People I Won't Forget

The day started as any other day, and continued up until I got pulled out of my class by my father because I had to get ready to meet interesting funny people at the Vanderbilt dinner in San Francisco. I was really excited.

My father and I got to the park station and were met with a dazzling group of people all dressed-up and fancy. We had the basic run-down of what was about to go down. We mingled amongst each other and headed off to the city.

On the way, Jea-An and I sat together and talked about how our lives have been lately, especially with AP testing and SAT we did. While we talked, a young man in front of us turned around because we were talking about the SAT. As it turns out, he had to talk to high school students about how they prepared for SAT testing for an interview. It was a pleasant talk up until we were at our stop. We didn’t feel the time go by.

Some people’s eyes lit up as soon as we got out of the BART station with the tall monstrous buildings that towered over our heads. The construction around the corner surprised me. We walked a bit to meet the alums at the restaurant, and one by one they came.

Ms. Kronenberg Starting off the Dinner
Don called everyone’s attention and we started the dinner with the honorable Madeline Kronenberg. She opened everything up as we had everyone introduce themselves and gave a little speech. Jahnvi was representing us, the new students that were going to go to Vanderbilt over the summer.
My Father's small Speech

Everyone clapped when my father gave a little mini announcement about what he saw for me in the future. I felt happy my dad say that because he usually isn’t one to talk to a big group, and much less in a setting quite as that.

Eppa talking to us
While at the dinner I met two alums that were going to get married, Eppa Rixey and Maggie Durlacher. They are incredible people, I loved meeting them, and especially after I found out they had a small story with a friend involving a certain penguin email. Eppa works a strategic planning manager and Maggie works for a medical company. They both told me about the engineering programs at Vanderbilt, the different varieties, and pathways they all take.

Fun on all the faces

Throughout the entire event I had a wonderful time and it was a really great time. The sound that arises when there is construction site a block away from the dinner is something to compete with, but it was really joyful either way. I got really excited about Vanderbilt and the trip in general. I get along with my fellow I learned a lot and now I can’t wait for the summer.