Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Another Step of the Journey

Today marked another milestone on the road to our departure date for the University of Pennsylvania...  the School Board Meeting.
 At Lavonya Dejean Middle School, all members of the ILC congregated together to present ourselves to the School Board. It was the first time I had had the pleasure of meeting everyone who would be participating this year in the Ivy League Connection. Also, as I had yet to have been given the opportunity to meet the other members of my cohort, I was finally able to introduce myself and learn a bit as to who I will be spending the greater of my summer with. After meeting all but one of them, I can positively say that I am excited for what this summer holds.
Prior to the initiation of the session, our chaperone met with us to discuss various aspects of our trip that he had previously not mentioned before. While he was speaking I found myself being infused with excitement at the thought of being able to bask in the glory that is the East Coast for yet another summer. To some it may seem like nothing grand, but to me, it is an extravagant experience. The shift in lifestyle is incredible compared to the one that the Bay Area possess. I can only describe it as being part of an entirely different world simply waiting to be explored.
To begin the meeting, we heard testimonials from two alumni of the ILC. Among them was Leonard Eisen, a student I have personally grown to know very well. As he attends my school, he essentially served as my inspiration my sophomore year to apply to the ILC program. He introduced me to the incredible and unique opportunity the ILC presents to students of my district. If it were not for him, I would have never mustered enough confidence and motivation in myself to have taken the first step in applying. I owe the success and experiences I have had with this program in large portion to him and I am truly grateful for everything he has taught me. I one day hope to follow in his footsteps and inspire other young students to join this outstanding program like he did for me.
After these testimonials, we were all introduced, by order of school, to the School Board and to all those who were present. Among the shower of applauses, I had a flashback to last year when I also stood in that very position. It is remarkable how much one year has changed me from the you sophomore I was last year to the soon-to-be senior that stood before everyone today. Even I am in awe at how much the ILC has altered me, not only in terms of my academic potential and goals, but also on a more personal level. Before I used to be very shy, but the ILC infused me with vast amounts of confidence that has allowed me to conquer any obstacle placed in my path.
Presenting before the School Board
When every cohort had gone up and had been praised by all those in attendance, the meeting went to a recess in order to take the very famous group photo that includes all members of the ILC as well as one parent, the chaperones, and members of the School Board. Considering the large attention to detail in these photos, I always find it remarkable how Don is able to align so many individuals so that they coordinate themselves into proper positioning in order to create a very remarkable looking photo that anyone would feel proud to be included in.
At the end of this photo session, we were then taken aside by our chaperone whom introduced himself to our parents and gave everyone a basic back story over himself. He gave a brief overview of what we could expect to do prior to the beginning of the program and where we were planning to visit. To me this reminded me of how major movie producers release teaser trailers before the premier of a major motion picture premier. The intent is to create a large anticipation, and that is exactly the feeling that was evoked in me when my chaperone was discussing the basic details of our trip. After a few brief discussions with other parents and a cohort photo, we all said our goodbyes with everyone looking forward to our next event. 

UPenn Cohort of 2014
Personally I am very fond of this event out of the various mandatory events that are found in the ILC for multiple reasons. For one, I enjoy being able to meet everyone who has been selected to be a part of the program for this year. This is one of the very few times when all members congregate together and we are able to introduce ourselves. Secondly I like this event because it serves as a time to of reflection. Receiving praise for being accepted is great but this event is truly about the recognition of everyone who makes this program possible. As stated by an older gentleman who approached my cohort before the beginning of the event and gave us a bit of advice, "this is a once in a life time opportunity that no other school district gives its students." His comments made me sincerely feel gracious to not only Ms. Kronenburg, Mr. Ramsey and Don but to every benefactor who is behind making this opportunity plausible. I cannot even begin to express how grateful I am to everyone who puts in the time to the Ivy League Connection program.

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