Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Hercules High Parents - Fred & Brenda Shephard

With each event that we attend, I become more convinced that the Ivy League Connection is more valuable than I could have ever imagined. Our daughter, Ramiah, is a part of this prestigious organization and what it has done for her self confidence is beyond measure. Also, what it has done for us as parents is immeasurable.

I will begin with the college fairs, Exploring College Options. We have attended four, and the wealth of information that is given -- the question and answer sessions -- have been so informative. With each one, it prepares us for the next one. We are better equipped, because we now know what questions we are needing answers for, and also, we have found out that no college is out-of-reach for our daughter or our children in the Richmond School District. Before attending these college fairs, we thought that these prestigious Ivy League Schools, were out of our ballpark, mainly due to cost. Just the opposite. We now are aware of need based financial aid packages, and our students could actually leave college without a huge college loan hanging over their head. Even if you attend the same fair twice, you come away learning something new or better understanding some former information.

We attended the Duke, Harvard, Penn, Stanford and Georgetown College Fair twice. After attending the second time, I fully understand the difference between early decision and early action, but I also learned more about the study abroad programs. This program has given our children the opportunity of preparing for and then going through an interview process, completing a college application process, and proactively preparing for a college course.

Tonight, I was absolutely blown away at the Hercules City Council meeting, when I saw our students, especially my daughter, stand before that City Council and give their statements. They stood there with so much confidence and pride!!! We are looking forward with great anticipation for our daughter going to Cornell for those three weeks. I cannot begin to express the burden that has been lifted off my husband's and my shoulders about this upcoming college application process. It won't be so intimidating with the ILC guiding us through it. I have been out of college for over 25 years and the process is totally different.
Mr. Ramsey ad Mrs. Kronenberg are to be commended for founding this program, because without it, our children would not have this awesome opportunity. They have opened a door of opportunity that some would have not even dreamed about, but because of the ILC it has become a reality. I also want to thank the other Board Members for your continued support of it. I only hope that you will continue to support and encourage the growth of it.

We will be forever grateful!!!!!
Fred and Brenda Shephard

Friday, April 24, 2009

From a Benefactor - Wallace B. Gordon

My thoughts and impressions are simple.
I could not have succeeded in college and in life if it weren't for my mentors. I am indebted to my mentors in ways that can only be cured by assisting others with opportunities such as those provided by the ILC. For those now benefiting from ILC, remember this thought throughout your lives.
Wallace B. Gordon
Deems Lewis McKinley Architects

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

ECHS Parents - Rhonda & Desmond Carson

We are writing to express how pleased we are about the Ivy League Connection program and what it is bringing to the WCCUSD. Our son, Malcolm Carson, has participated in the program over the last 3 summers (2 at Brown and 1 at Cornell). We are thrilled about the opportunity to participate in the program and very thankful that Charles and Madeline made the push to get the program off the ground and keep it growing in the district.

Malcolm (and parents) have decided that he will attend Columbia University in the Fall. Malcolm is a stellar student who was accepted to several top Colleges and Universities, and I'm sure would have done so even without participating in the Ivy League Connection. However, the benefit to him has been exposure to East Coast institutions that he probably would not have considered prior to his involvement with the program. That aspect has been invaluable and we would like to see as many students as possible benefit from the relationships that have been established by the Ivy League Connection. My husband and I being products of the UC system (Berkeley in specific) and participating in high school summer programs at Cal, strongly believe in the benefits of exposing students to college environments to reduce the intimidation factor and increase their confidence that they can compete and succeed at top ranked institutions.

The WCCUSD often gets negative press, so it's very exciting to see such a positive effort coming from the district and the outreach that Charles, Madeline and their team have done with the schools, students, alumni, business community and the corporate sponsors. Thank you again for putting this program together and offering this opportunity to our young people. Please pass on our appreciation particularly to the sponsors who have donated the funding to support the program activities.

Rhonda and Desmond Carson

Friday, April 17, 2009

El Cerrito High Parent -- Sasa T.

I always wanted to write to share with other people how thankful I am for the SEAD (Summer Enrichment at Dartmouth) program that the school district provided to my daughter. Because of my limited English, it took me a long time to get this done.

As a parent, I’ve always had a dream that my daughter will have a chance to go the top colleges she likes. So, when my friends told me there are no good high schools in WCCUSD and if I want my daughter to go to the top colleges, I should have my daughter move to Albany or Piedmont. What can I do? Are there any good schools in our district? Yes, a while after, I found the answers in El Cerrito High School and the SEAD program. There are very good and dedicated teachers in our district. My daughter was enrolled in El Cerrito High in 2005 and had the opportunity to join the SEAD program for three years since 2006. The program gave her a chance to go to one of the Ivy Leagues schools, Dartmouth College, for the last three years – she learns and xperiences what college is about, and has the opportunity to talk to the college faculty, staff, intern. She also had guidance on how to apply for colleges. This program is a totally new world to my daughter and opens up her eyes and mind, as well as changing her life. As a parent I can see the difference my daughter was before and is now. She has definitely benefited from the SEAD program and her result speaks for it. SEAD not only taught her academically, also helped her with her personal growth. Jennifer is a very strong person. She doesn’t easily show her emotions. She doesn’t feel any anything while I am sniffling when watching a sad movie together. However, she cries every time she returns from SEAD. She always misses the Dartmouth people very much. “You don’t understand how nice and helpful those people are, you don’t understand my feelings!” she always said.

My daughter was offered to an undergraduate admission from Wesleyan, Dartmouth, UC Berkeley, UC L.A., UC Davis and Stanford... and now my daughter has a difficult time in deciding which school she will go to. Thank you very much for the Ivy League Connection for giving my daughter this opportunity of a lifetime. Here, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you
The Ivy League Connection has benefited my daughter greatly and made her dreams come true. I really want this program to be continued so that more and more of our district kids can get into the top schools.

I am here to thank many members of the Ivy League Connection, especially to Mrs. Kronenberg and Mr. Ramsey. They have given up their time, patience, and weekends to advise us when we needed their help with my daughter’s school applications. I would also like to thank El Cerrito High School teachers, counselors, and the other staff members. They have all dedicated their hard work. After the SEAD program, my daughter has become a more independent and mature individual. Before she was always afraid of everything, now she can ride a plane from west coast to east coast to visit colleges all by herself.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Ivy League Connection Team Member

It has been my good fortune to be involved with the Ivy League Connection during the past few years. During the same period of time, I was helping my own two children as they applied to college, so I was able to see the process through the eyes of a parent of college-bound children as well as a District teacher, administrator, and Ivy League Connection supporter. As the parent of college-age children, the application process is a daunting one, even if one is a college graduate oneself. I can't imagine trying to adequately assist my child if there was the added financial, language, and/or experiential challenge that confounds the vast majority of our high school students' families. Perhaps this is the systemic change that we might all wish for, and work for -- assisting all of our college-bound students to adequately navigate the college admission process.

For a subset of this population, however, there is an additional challenge: how to make our highly motivated and talented students who may not have the necessary home support aware of the vast array of possibilities available to them. Charles, you mention the "shocking reminder that our students and families are unaware of the world that exists beyond their communities." I agree that many are unaware, but I also think there are those who are aware, but unable to imagine how to take advantage of the opportunities beyond their immediate vision. I believe that the Ivy League Connection creates those possibilities and broadens the view not only of its recipients but of the community of their peers.

A few months ago, as I sat at Parents' Weekend at Stanford University, I heard the President of the University cite the amazing statistic that 18% of the entering class of freshmen were the first in their families to attend college. Somehow, each of those students had found a path to Stanford -- certainly as prestigious a university as the Ivies. Most likely, they had found people outside of their immediate families to provide the vision and support they needed to help them forge a new path. This is what the ILC is providing for students in our district -- and I applaud the efforts of everyone involved.

The student and parent testimonials, I believe, speak for themselves. If only one life is changed as a result of our efforts, it will be significant. There is a saying in the Talmud, the Jewish commentary on ethical teachings, "It is not up to you to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it." These problems may seem too large for one person or even one group to solve, and yet when we, as a community, feel the responsibility to act even in small ways, then we realize that together we can make significant changes in the lives of the children in our community and in our school district.

Judy Sanders

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Lucy Parada - Pinole Valley High School Parent

When I first heard about the Ivy League Connection, it was through the excited voice of my daughter Lucina, then a Junior at Pinole Valley High School. She came home and told me all about the program, including the rigorous selection process. There were seven candidates, and all had to submit a resume, and essay and letters of recommendation. They also had to be interviewed by a panel of respected professionals. Days later, I was thrilled when Lucina called me from the office of her principal to let me know she had been selected. Lucina attended Cornell University's Summer College, Freedom and Justice Program in June 2008. After three weeks in Cornell, Lucina came home, not only talking about Plato incessantly, but with a gained self confidence and a broadened view of her educational possibilities. She fell in love with Cornell and knew then that she would apply for fall admission in 2009.

The Ivy League Connection is a comprehensive program, from start to finish every detail is covered. Lucina and I have enjoyed the program's events where we had the opportunity to meet some of the programs sponsors and to thank them for their support. We were also introduced to some of Cornell's alumni who were very excited to share their love for their Alma Mater and to talk to us about what makes Cornell unique. They offered Lucina encouraging words and kudos for her choice.

The Ivy League Connection goes a step further and provides a College Counselor to help students maximize their experience. Our College counselor guided Lucina through the college selection process. When she offered her suggestions, she took into consideration Lucina's preferences, her personality and her interests. She also reviewed her essays and personal statement.

As parents, my husband and I have benefited immensely from the college counselor's services. She helped us with completing the Financial Aid forms -FAFSA, CSS profile- a task quite overwhelming, especially when you lack experience in these matters. She also made sure that we were following the necessary steps to submit college applications in a timely manner and without any paperwork missing.

We have come almost to the end of our daughter's high school experience. We are now at the final stretch of our journey. Lucina has received acceptance letters to Cornell and Cal Berkeley, her two top choices and we couldn't be happier.

I believe the Ivy League Connection has been instrumental in my daughter's accomplishments. I have nothing but praise for this wonderful program.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Victor Maniquiz and Teresita Mabbayad - Hercules High School

I am Victor Maniquiz, father of Julia Maniquiz, who fortunately was chosen to attend Cornell University this summer thru your wonderful and educational Ivy League Connection program. My daughter found out about this program at Hercules High School only last year, but from that time on she set her mind in applying for the program and wanting to attend the program.

The impacts of this program on her are all positive. It broadens her mind about what is out there as far as college education is concerned. She's so excited to attend a program in a college environment.

My worry is - think my little girl is ready for college. Initially she was set on attending colleges within the California borders but, upon learning about this great program, she's set on going beyond her home boundaries. She's now eyeing any of these prestigious Ivy League colleges for her college education. It may be hard, but opening her eyes about the great opportunities is something else.

As they always say, this program has a PRICELESS impact on the students as well as the parents. I now know that my daughter will be getting out of this program with a wealth of information and knowledge.

Saying thank yous will not be enough to compensate you for all the hard work you have put up and been putting up for this program and honestly we don't even know how to thank you for this GREAT program and for the opportunity that you have given my daughter, Julia. I am also pretty sure that she will work her butt off to make you all and Hercules High School proud in choosing her.

I just hope that this Ivy League Connection will continue for years to come for the betterment of the students. Let us know if there is anything we can do to make this program even more successful (although it is a great success as it is now). Again a million thanks for all your hard work, for the positive impact to my daughter, for the opportunities, and for everything else.........

victor maniquiz and teresita mabbayad