Sunday, March 1, 2009

Hercules High Mom

My daughter Susan Lee from Hercules High spent four weeks at Penn’s summer Biomedical Research program last year. Although it was Susan's first time away from home and family, she enjoyed herself and learned a lot at the same time. During her study at Penn, she was not only able to gain more knowledge in science, but also meet people who could help her through the college applying process. This year during President's week, ILC sent Susan and I back to Penn for a college visit to help her get a feel of actual college life with students on campus and classes in session. Whether or not Susan is able to study at Penn in the future, by giving her all these positive new learning experiences, this program has changed Susan's life.

For more than a half year since Susan took part in ILC program, we have received a lot of information, guides, helps and encouragement from the ILC. Charles Ramsey, Madeline Kronenberg, and Don Gosney never hesitate to speak out their thoughts, or share their knowledge, experiences and resources with us. They have spent enormous amount of time on emails, phone calls, or personal meetings to help this program work effectively. From facing important benchmarks, comparing colleges, figuring out financial help, and private school interviews, we have never been alone. Because of their help, we chose colleges that fit her.

Susan is our only child, so we never before wanted her to go far away from home for college. We thought bay area schools were the best option for her; either we thought the east coast schools were out of Susan's reach, or too far for her to go. Without ILC's generous offer, we would never budget her to visit other schools out of CA. After Susan was back from Penn, she told us a lot of
wonderful things about her stay, and that she feels the life at Penn is exactly what she is looking for. After our second visit, Susan told me she liked the school even more. Although we still don't know which school will accept her and which school we will finally chose, we have our minds open and know what Susan wants.

I feel that is very fortunate for students in our district to be able to gain ambition and confidence through being in the ILC program. Our students deserve to have someone guide them to places where they can succeed academically. For teenagers, their environment influences them more than parents do. That's why I think the ILC program is so important. What the program offers is a lifetime gift to our kids, so they can catch an important chance and be lead to their future success.

As I know, many students in this school district are from low income families. Since most parents are busy making a living, they might not care about Ivy League schools, or are not even know what they are. Also, a lot of parents like me don't want to send their kids out of state, either because they didn't have the chance to explore opportunities out there or because they think it is too expensive. Because of these circumstances, a lot of excellent students miss their chances to see a much bigger world, study in one of the nation's best schools, and gain powerful knowledge in their field of interest. That's why, in this school district, we need good programs like ILC program. Just like we have special programs for underachieving students, we need programs for our outstanding students as well. Even though they are already outstanding, they still need help to reach their goals.

As we know, the schools in the Ivy League are all tough schools. Since they only pick the top students, just getting to know these schools and wanting to apply for them is not enough. Kids also need to prepare and work for their goals throughout high school. Thus, the earlier students know about this program, the better. I would be happy to see this program known by more and more young kids, who will be able to prepare to apply to this program, and be further prepared for college as well.

We would like to thank the ILC program members, especially Charles Ramsey and Madeline Kronenberg, for making this wonderful program and for inputting their time, energy and love on our kids. Without their passion, hard work, and tremendous efforts, this program would not have gone anywhere. We would also like to thank the sponsors, whose generous gifts make the program possible, and help our kids build and work for their dreams. The ILC has truly helped make our district even better, and continues to provide our students with life changing opportunities.

Frances Yang