Tuesday, August 20, 2013

From the Parents of Loan Chung

The Ivy League Connection has been an absolute godsend. 

We were not too sure about this program at first. Sending our daughter across the country seemed like a very foreign idea and it took a lot to finally get used to it. But after seeing what it has given our daughter we just can’t give enough thanks. 

We always worry about the fact that we can’t help our daughter with her education due to our lack of English skills. We cannot tell her which college is good or what she should do after high school. Thanks to this program, Loan now has been exposed to different colleges and learning environments. She now has a much better idea of what she wants to pursue in the future. It is so great to hear her talk about her newfound dream college. Seeing her become so much more determined about medical school after the course at Vanderbilt is truly satisfying.

We thank the members of the Ivy League Connecting for their dedication. Without them we would never dream of such an opportunity being given to Loan.

Cuong and Chuong Chung

From the Mother of Thomas Johnston

My son, Thomas Johnston, went to Vanderbilt University with the ILC. This was an amazing experience for him! He got to travel, he learned a lot of math, he now has a much better sense of what he wants in a college, and became more confident and independent.

First of all, Thomas got to travel for a week prior to starting classes. How many students have a chance to spend the Fourth of July in Washington, D.C.? He also visited New York City, and Philadelphia. They had a chance to tour Columbia University, Georgetown University, and the University of Pennsylvania. What an amazing trip!

Secondly, Thomas learned a lot of math while at Vanderbilt University. This was the first time ever that Thomas was challenged in math. I could tell from reading his daily blogs that he was enjoying this challenge enormously. He said he learned more math there in a day, than in an entire semester in high school. His instructor, Dawson Gray, was phenomenal!

Thirdly, Thomas has a much better sense now of what he is looking for in a college. He got to visit four different colleges. He had a chance to talk with several alumni and found out it is possible to double major in engineering and music performance. Thomas now also has a much better understanding of the admissions process. He had a chance to listen to and speak with several admissions officers, and he participated in a mock admissions panel where he got to look at mock applications and decide who to accept or wait list.

Lastly, I feel that Thomas has become much more confident and independent. He took the initiative to talk with admissions officers one-on-one to get answers to his questions about double majoring. I don't think he would have had the courage to do that six months ago. Moreover, he learned how to get along with a roommate, how to do laundry, how to manage his time so he could squeeze in early morning work-outs before breakfast, and get his daily blog done before lights out. Above all, he came back with a real focus on what he wants out of his education, and seems very confident that he will achieve the high goals he has set for himself.

I want to thank Mr. Ramsey and Ms. Kronenberg for their time and efforts in finding sponsors for the amazing ILC program. I want to thank Don Gosney for the endless hours he spent planning and organizing the logistics of the program, and for teaching the students how to blog (our family absolutely loved being able to read the blog of each day's adventures!) I want to thank Mr. Mannix for being a great chaperone for the Vanderbilt cohort, and for making healthy care packages for the students when there wasn't enough time for sit-down meals.

Catherine Johnston

From the Mother of Kimberly de Dios

I couldn’t be any happier the moment I found out that my daughter Kimberly was accepted into the ILC in December of 2013. Before applying, she mentioned the opportunities the Ivy League Connection could provide for WCCUSD students. She explained to me how she could travel to East Coast universities and eventually attend a summer school program at no cost to our family. I didn’t know that any such program could exist. Because this was such a great opportunity, I gave her my blessing. Although she’s never been away from home for more than three days at a time, I couldn’t let my apprehension for her safety get in the way of this great opportunity.

When Kimberly and I attended these milestone events before her upcoming trip, I realized that this was going to be really good in order for her to grow and mature. At the dinner at La Folie in San Francisco, I met alumni of Vanderbilt University and benefactors of the ILC. I could see that this was beginning to broaden Kimberly’s college aspirations. And as for me, I had no idea that sending my child to a university outside of California could ever be financially feasible. But it was then that I started to realize that she could study outside of California if she chose to.

Reading Kimberly’s blog from when she saw Pinole Valley grad Dyana So now attending UPenn, I know that my daughter isn’t limited to applying to schools under the University of California system. Each of her posts during her stay in the East Coast has further opened my eyes. I never would have dreamed of being this far away from home at her age.

When my daughter came back, I felt that she had grown and matured from her experiences. She had the opportunity to attend the Med School 101 course at Vanderbilt University for three weeks and tour three colleges beforehand. At the Vanderbilt Summer Academy, she stayed in the dorms and attended class for six hours. It initially pained me not to be there for her. But she managed to be on her own. This was a golden opportunity for me to see Kimberly in a new light, ready to begin her college path as she now faces her senior year at Pinole Valley High School.

On behalf of my husband and I, I’d like to thank Mr. Ramsey, Ms. Kronenberg, Don, and all the sponsors for making the Ivy League Connection available to students like my daughter Kimberly. And thank you Mr. Mannix for taking care of the Vanderbilt cohort. You’ve given my daughter a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Barbara de Dios

Saturday, August 17, 2013

From the Mother of Keli’i Rubin

Ever since the first day I learned that I was required to write a blog, I have been thinking about what I would say. I wrote many generic paragraphs of ways to say 'Thank you'. However, after my son came back I realized just how much those generic paragraphs would not do this program justice. 

As a single mom, I always wanted the best for my children. I was pregnant with my son at a young age and I didn’t get to go to a four year college like I always dreamed I would so naturally I always wanted more for my children. I just didn’t know how I would get it for them. At best I prayed for good grades so they could get a scholarship. 

This program gave my son a rare opportunity that I believe have changed the course of his and my other children's lives. My son was able to see his hard work pay off, which is a life lesson that will benefit and motivate him throughout his life.  

My younger children watched his journey and my daughter who was having trouble last year in school, told me she plans on working harder this year in school so that she can be like her big brother. Talk about a proud mother moment. 

When my son came back from his trip I got a chance to live through his eyes. Through his eyes I took my first airplane flight to the east coast. I stood in Washington, D.C. and could hear the fireworks for the first time. I stood at the Martin Luther King statue and felt a sense of pride I have only read about in history books. Through my son's eyes and experience I was able to attend classes and stay in a dorm. 

The ILC made this possible for him. ILC made this experience possible for me. I don’t know how to thank the program sponsors for all they have done for my son. I don’t know how to express my thanks for staying with my son when he had an allergic reaction to nuts and had to be hospitalized for the first time thousands of miles away from home. I feel 'thank you' is not enough to say to this program for taking my son all the way on the other side of the country and bring him back safe and sound.  He came back eager to go to college in Georgetown (Go figure since that is not the college he attended but only briefly visited). I do not know how to say thank you for keeping me updated on all the activities and keeping  me informed on every expected and unexpected adventure so I can have a peace of mind and sleep at night. So I will not say Thank You because it just is not enough. Instead I will say this program is a blessing and you have changed the course of our life. I am truly grateful for the ILC

Monday, August 27, 2012

From the Parents of Tanya Krishnakumar

Ever since Tanya got into High School, she has been talking about Ivy League Connection (ILC) program.  Fortunately, her good friends were prior ILC participants, who turned out to be great ambassadors for ILC. They instilled the aspiration in Tanya to participate in the ILC program.

She had prepared herself very well for the rigorous selection process.  We remember the day of interview in March; we were nervously waiting outside El Cerrito High School and as every student was coming out, we thought that Tanya’s probability of acceptance increased.  At one point, we could not bear the suspense anymore, so we approached a parent who had just walked out of the school and asked if they saw Tanya.  She mentioned that the only people inside were the finalists which meant that Tanya made the cut and we could not hold our excitement. 

Tanya walked out with three other students, her cohort for the “Grand Strategies” program in Yale.  Our joy knew no bounds; we shared this news immediately with all of our friends and family. 

The events that took place after the selection process were all coordinated impeccably due to the energetic and thorough ILC coordinators Mr. Gosney, Mr. Ramsey and Ms. Kronenberg.  They had an action plan for every step of the program from selection through the actual travel and the summer course.  Don Gosney conducted the initial tutorial session giving us, the parents and the students a walkthrough of the program and a list of things that they would need to survive the travel and the stay in the dorms.  On May 17, we enjoyed an exceptional dinner in RN74, an elegant restaurant in downtown San Francisco amongst the Yale alumni and the ILC sponsors.  Both Tanya and I had great conversations with our tablemates during the dinner and learned a lot about the curriculum and the student life in Yale. Tanya walked out even more excited about going to New Haven, CT and started counting down the days.  I, as the parent, was convinced that this would be the best summer of her life. 

Before we knew, the travel date to Yale arrived on July 22, 2012.  We woke up at 1:30 AM to drop Tanya off at El Cerrito High School.  Here was another opportunity to witness Don’s exemplary organizational skills.  He had the talking points ready to prep not only the cohort traveling but also the parents who were left behind.  He handed us the contact information of all the travelers and the itinerary to keep us informed at all times of the travelers’ whereabouts. 

During the next week, we received a call every evening from Tanya, giving us the report of her day filled with excitement from visiting the campuses to the exclusive dinners with the administrators and/or alumni.  She also shared her experience through the blogs, which provided the visual treats to the reader.  They (the cohort) had travelled to numerous campuses including Georgetown, University of Pennsylvania, Columbia, and Wesleyan to name a few.  The calls diminished as they went to Yale explaining the rigorous schedule of the course.  During one of the few calls that she made, Tanya mentioned about the Marshall Brief and the measures that they took to prepare for it as a group.  It sounded both exciting and exhausting based on the number of hours that they put in for the preparation and presentation.  We heard many good things about the exposure that the kids got through this process.

We could not wait to see Tanya on August 12.  However, we were disappointed to hear that her flight was cancelled and that she could not get back to San Francisco until the next afternoon.  When they finally arrived at SFO, the cohorts were visibly fatigued but glad to be back at home. 

Tanya came back with a positive outlook about the “outside world”, away from her comfort zone (both home and school).  She managed to handle everything independently and bravely.  She is confident about her public speaking skills, which was the biggest achievement from the course.  She learned a lot about the Yale culture, administration, campus and the life in New Haven.  She met some amazing people from around the globe and bonded with few of them.

At the end of the day, this was all possible only because of the Ivy League Connection and we need to thank the organization profusely for giving Tanya this once in a lifetime opportunity to preview the college atmosphere prior to her actual admission to college.  She is now well equipped to be a proud ambassador of the ILC and is looking forward to recruit future candidates for the program. 

At home front, she seems to be more matured and determined to get an admission in one of the Ivy League Colleges, which previously seemed out of reach to us.

Bharathi Iver and Kris Ramamurti

From the Parents of Alysa Butler

We would classify the entire process as SIMPLY AMAZING.

I am the Father of Alysa Butler and I was reflecting on how this amazing opportunity began. I believe it was in the month of December, 2011 as we were all beginning our day. Alysa, mentioned that she would be attending an informational assembly to be held on campus given by the ILC Alysa, always has been very active on campus participating in different clubs and study groups—many of which I was familiar with but I had not heard of the Ivy League Connection. I asked, “What is the Ivy League Connection?” She said, “I will tell you later.”

When she returned home that evening. She was excited and told us that the Ivy League Connection is a group formed by the WCCUSD that selects students to tour some of the colleges on the East Coast and participate in a Summer Educational Program. The ILC is planning to send two people and depart on June 25th, 2012 and return on July 28th, 2012. I thought, WOW!, it must be expensive. Some of the colleges that they were planning to visit were Yale, Washington University (in St. Louis), Cornell, UPENN and others. The lucky few would get to experience living in a dorm room.

We encouraged her to submit an application and participate in the process. Part of the process was a meet and greet between the ILC and Parents. We had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Charles Ramsey, Mrs. Madeline Kronenberg and Mr. Don Gosney at the meeting. Each ILC staff person gave an overview of their role in the program and assured each parent that their child would be safe. The dorms were staffed with security 24 hrs a day whose responsibility was to monitor the premises for the safety or the residents. All ILC participants would receive three meals per day and have supervision by a chaperone. This information eased the apprehension and eased the stress.
There had been a series of interviews of Alysa's instructors at school and recommendations and finally through the process of elimination there were eight students selected as finalists. However, only two lucky people would be able to represent the school at the Academy of Physics at UPENN. Alysa came home one day and said, we have to be at El Cerrito High School at 5 PM.  She announced that she had made it to the final interview. She seemed very calm but I was nervous enough for both of us.

We ate a little dinner and hurried off to the final interview. Upon our arrival as we searched for the room we were becoming anxious because we did not want to be late for the interview but some of the doors were locked. Finally we located the room. We were not the last to arrive. Then a familiar face, Don Gosney, he was brought refreshments and let us know that the interviewing staff was running a few minutes late. Don informed us of the process to be followed. He informed us that we would draw numbers from a cup to establish a numerical order for interviews.

Alysa drew number five. The interviews began number one, two, three, with each interview lasting longer than the first. Then number four which I though would never end. Finally, number five. I offered a few words of encouragement to Alysa and told her how much I love her and to do her best. I was a nervous wreck. Alysa, though, seemed very calm throughout the entire process. I began to realize that she was confident, that she would do well.

She returned after what seemed like an eternity. I asked how did you do? She said OK but did not want to talk about the process because there were still three prospective people to interview in the room. After all interviews were complete we all took a 10 minute break. After the break all participants and their parents were asked to go across the hall to the interview room We all met the interviewers which consisted of some professors, community business people and teachers

After all the introductions were complete they announced the two final people to become part of the Ivy League Connection. SIMPLY AMAZING! Alysa Butler was named as one of the two people selected. I was overjoyed for her. As we drove home I became more and more excited for her. Slowly I began to realize she had never been gone from home for such a long period of time nor had she been so far away.

The next meeting was with Don Gosney. There were consent forms to sign and packets of information that needed to be faxed to UPENN (that was the school Alysa was selected to attend). She would become part of the advanced Physics Academy. WOW! SIMPLY AMAZING.

We managed to get all the paperwork done and returned in a timely manner. We had a final meeting and met the Chaperone Mr. Ian Lawrence. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr. Ramsey, Mrs. Kronenberg, Mr. Gosney and Mr. Lawrence for the care and concern given to my daughter throughout the entire process, THANK YOU

On the Morning of 06/25/12 at approx 3:30 AM they were off to catch their flight at San Francisco Airport to Philadelphia, PA. Throughout the next month I was in contact with my daughter regularly. I was never concerned about her safety and welfare because I was confident that the Ivy League Connection would watch over her. She met many diverse groups of people and got the opportunity to interact with them academically and socially. She experienced riding the trains of New York City and has been to some places that will enrich her personally.

Denise & Kerry Butler

From the Mother of Abigail Serrano

Hello, I'm Hilda Serrano, Abigail's mother and through this blog I want to thank God for the staff that makes up the ILC, and for giving her the opportunity to participate in one of the most effective programs for the women in mental, physical and spiritual.

Women and Leadership has been a great support to me as a mother because my daughter overcame in many wrong beliefs and also learned to appreciate and see life from another point of view. The importance of preparation for anyone who yearns for a better future is based on their own confidence, faith in one’s self and hard work to reach goals. I believe with all my heart that the one who has the privilege to be part of this program, also will have the power to build his future successfully.

There are no words to express our gratitude that the ILC left to us as parents. Moreover I also take the opportunity to thank all those who contributed with money, time, effort, knowledge, patience and love for each of these young people whom are involved with ILC because without them wouldn't be possible the change that is now reflected in our teens.

Nevertheless, my daughter has in mind the great commitment that means giving or be a part of a social movement, with the responsibility and privilege of transmitting and work hard for others giving testimony of what she learned in this program. As a mother, I have the compromise of cultivate in my daughter the heritage in knowledge, the moral and love that she will leave to the new generations.

Thanks again,
Miguel & Hilda Serrano