Wednesday, July 22, 2009

From Rowena Mariano

I started to compose this email yesterday but work got in the way....

Hello Mr. Ramsey and Ms. Kronenberg.

I can not thank you enough for the wonderful opportunity you've given Courtney these past 2 summers.

2 - 3 years ago, whenever someone asked Courtney what she's planning to take in college; her usual response was Nursing / UCLA; not a shabby choice, I thought.

Then she got invited to participate in ILC in the summer of 2008.

First the UPenn 2008 summer program opened her eyes to the biomedical field; a field I wanted her to explore.

Upon her return from Brown U this year, I hear her talking about applying at Brown, Columbia, UPenn, Stanford and UC and possibly taking Psychology as a minor/major.

Based on the ILC's blogs, Courtney's stories and numerous meetings with you, I have ascertained what a wonderful and safe (thank you chaperones!) program you have in ILC!

I hope you keep it going for years and years, so that other well-deserving WCCUSD kids get the chance:

  1. To visit numerous campuses and expose themselves to university/college options outside of our state
  2. To open their eyes to other fields of studies
  3. To experience what college life is (and perhaps minimize the anxieties when they actually go away to college).

Courtney comes home from the ILC summer programs tired but enriched with wonderful memories of the things she learned & experienced and people she met.

In the end, whatever Courtney ends up choosing to take in college and wherever she ends up going, I'm certain the ILC program played a huge part in her making that informed and wise choice.

Thank you again.
Rowena E. Mariano

From the Mother of Julie Liang

Thank you for giving a chance to Julie to go to Columbia University to learn things. She is very happy and likes it very much. She came back with successful face.
Thank you very much.
Julie’s mother

From Jennifer Locsin Taylor

When I share the news about the Ivy League Connection and how this program has transformed my son's life, people often ask me what private school he attends. People cannot believe that WCCUSD could offer such an opportunity to study at not just one Ivy League school, but five - Brown, Cornell, Columbia, Yale, University of Pennsylvania. Without the dedication, motivation, and commitment of so many people in front of and behind the scenes of the ILC, my son, Zackery Taylor, a student at Pinole Valley High, would not be the confident and driven person he is today.

Zackery's attended Summer at Brown University to study a course entitled, "Leadership for Social Change" and it brought about an awareness, maturity, and independence that was always there and learned to take it to the next level. He met kids from all over the world (Canada, Korea, Sweden & the Congo), who share his passion for making a difference in the community and the world they live in. He brought his world to Brown and quickly adjusted to this new & exciting leadership and college experience. He made so many "connections" in just the two weeks there - alumni from African American & Latino organizations, guest lecturers, professors, teachers and residents assistants - not to mention even an interview with an admissions officer!

The Ivy League Connection helped shape my son's future and he has learned to share the blessings afforded him. Since being back from Brown he is coordinating local, private college tours for students from his high school to inspire them to pursue higher education post high school or even post junior college. He is sharing college brochures he obtained while attending college fairs on the East and West Coasts. He is reminding students about important registration, test, and application deadlines. In essence, he has become the leader you ALL helped cultivate. By using the tools, resources, personal attention, and exposure to -- a world some people only dream of -- he is helping make a difference in the WCCUSD - all because of the Ivy League Connection.

The personal gratifications are to the following:

Mr. Gosney: for capturing this wonderful journey in print and for debating with Zackery so that he can see there are always two sides to every story.

Ms. Sue Kim: for taking the overwhelming college application process to something more personal.

Ms. Sue Kahn: for a fresh start and words of wisdom on first impressions.

Ms. Lamons: for noticing and believing in Zack.

Mrs. Tammy Campbell: for your involvement in all things at the high school and in the community.

Mrs. Kronenberg & Mr. Ramsey: for starting the dream and nurturing, encouraging, and challenging Zackery to reach his TRUE potential.

To the sponsors, parents and community who help make the ILC possible: for making a difference to so many children's future.

It has been an honor to be a part of such a ground-breaking and dynamic program.

From Madeline and Florante Cuevas

We would like to express our gratitude and heartfelt thanks to the Ivy League Connection, especially to Mr. Ramsey, Mrs. Kronenberg and the sponsors for the rare opportunity given to our daughter, Jackie Cuevas, in joining and being a part of the 2009 Summer Scholarship Program held in Columbia University.

The program gave the chance to our daughter, during such period of time, to be independent in choosing her future career, to really understand and experience ahead of time what would be the college life.

These experiences lead her to explore more beyond the perimeter of Columbia University all the possibilities out there that add to her interests. At home we discussed her three weeks stay, like how she was able to cope with the early morning chores without the aid of the second hand wake up call, be able to do a lot of things by walking around the campus, and was able to refrain from TV for three weeks, and other topics.

But the most interesting part, beyond what she has learned on her subject Chemistry, is her interaction with her suitemates. She was able to meet new nice people from different countriesand knew first hand their background and interests in life. Overall, it was a good learning experience academically and socially that add to her determination on what course she will pursue in college.

All these experiences and opportunities would be hard to attain without the chances given and provided by the Ivy League Connection. The excitement she brought back home made it easy for us, as parents, to know and realize what course she is inclined to take and what adjustments we have to make so we can support her in fulfilling her dreams.

In our view, besides academic determination and pointing out the path to take, there's more to consider, and that is the three weeks growing up beyond expectation. A lot of changes for the betterment happened and those were precious: time and effort (her) that can never be taken for granted. Jackie did an excellent job and these experiences made her a better student and person.

Thank you very much for the chances and may The Lord always Bless the program so that more students in the futurewill have a chance to experience the summer scholarship program.

Sincerely yours,
Madeline Cuevas and Florante Cuevas

From Felix Pelayo

I would like to personally thank you and all the Ivy League persons involved in allowing my daughter, Cristina, to be able to travel to the East Coast. I appreciate the opportunity that she had to go and study at Columbia University.

Thank you for letting my daughter be aware and opening her eyes in what opportunities she has in her life, and what major(s) that she wants to study for her career. Also, thank you for the opportunity to meet with Ms. Kim.

Thank you so much for all your time and effort into this program.


Felix Pelayo

From Fred and Brenda Shephard

First of all, we cannot express our gratitude for this awesome opportunity the ILC afforded our daughter, Ramiah Davis-Shephard to be a part of. You are to be commended on the process and the level of professionalism from the interview to our child returning home from Cornell. The interview prepared our daughter for future interviews, she was given the opportunity to stand before professionals that judged her on her level of confidence, and her ability to express herself and to state why she should be chosen to be a part of the ILC and it's wonderful opportunities.

Next the rigorous, but very informative College Exploratory sessions. Transportation was never an issue, busses and or personal rides were made available. The information learned from those sessions opened our awareness to the opportunities that are available to everyone, as long as the students apply themselves and produce the grades. So often, we think of the Ivy League Schools as out of our range, due to the rumors one so often hear. For instance before those sessions, we were told (by a school official) that just applying to Harvard was not a possibility, that you must be invited to apply or be recruited.

We learned some history about the school, the strengths of each school, the dormitory system, classroom sizes, but most importantly we were informed about the varied curriculum and curriculum styles. In those sessions, we learned about the wide range of financial opportunities afforded to students, basically if the student gets accepted, based on the parents' income, the school will assure the financial resources. Because of those College Exploratory Excursions our daughter is looking to apply and hopefully attend a college that will propel her well into her future.

Next, Ms. Kim, the college counselor who has provided us with so much information, from realizing the importance of the second semester grades of her Junior year in high school (those are the last grades colleges will be able to look at) books to read, college guide book, so we can compare hundreds of schools at a glance, one on one counseling sessions in preparation for picking suitable colleges that will be a match to the student, writing the personal essay, ensuring the appropriate college entrance exams are taken, preparing for the college application, financial aide information, (how to get the most and the best of what is offered), even selecting classes for the final year of high school. She is absolutely invaluable.

Because of the ILC, Ramiah is being afforded a scholarship to attend study sessions to prepare her to retake the SAT to help boost her score to the highest level possible.

There was a dinner where students and families were able to meet some of the sponsors and get valuable first hand information about some of the colleges and also some encouragement to continue to do their absolute best. The words from the former Mayor of Richmond, Irma Anderson, to our daughter had a lasting impression.

In addition is the positive exposure that has been afforded the students, not many students will ever get an opportunity to speak before the City Council, or be recognized by the School Board, but because of the ILC our daughter was able to be a part of both of these events.

Now, the Cornell experience....Having a precursor to the college application and what goes along with it, for example, getting transcripts, letters of recommendation, meeting filing dates, and then an acceptance from a college, what an experience for a high school junior. The opportunity to not only visit but attend such a prestigious school and also visit some surrounding campuses. The opportunity to experience college life, being responsible for getting up on time, having breakfast and still make it to class on time (without a ride from your parents), doing your homework without any prodding from your parents, getting a good night's rest, meeting curfew, spending your money wisely, spreading your horizons (not being afraid to meet new people), spending 3 weeks with someone who started out as a total stranger but ends up being your friend, knowing how to live within your restraints and not pushing them to the limits, making wise choices - knowing you are accountable for them. The responsibility and maturity she portrayed has made us awfully proud.

Because of the ILC, she was given the opportunity to really show us what she could do, and we are so thankful and relieved to know that she was listening. The status alone of being an Ivy Leaguer, has catapulted her to another level.

This was all made possible due to inordinate amount of effort, time, hard work, emails, reminders, encouragement, phone calls, scheduling, hands-on hard work, and even making the textbooks available earlier so our students could be prepared and a step ahead of the other students, by Mr. Ramsey, Mrs. Kronenberg, and Mr. Gosney.

From Victor and Teresita Maniquiz

Dear Mr. Ramsey, Ms Kronenberg, Mr. Gosney, Board Members and generous sponsors and ILC supporters,

My daughter, Julia Maniquiz, attended Cornell University’s Summer College program for three weeks and partook in their Freedom and Justice course. She went with little knowledge about Cornell, little knowledge about life in the Ivy League schools, and little knowledge about college life in general. Her mind was all about California - California colleges and universities, friends in California, and life in general in California. But the Ivy League Connection changed all of that. It opened her eyes to the great opportunities outside of California. Colleges and universities are not all about where you are geographically. There are so many fantastic institutions outside one’s comfort zone.

During her time in Cornell University, Julia developed a sense of fulfillment, independence, a wealth of knowledge, new friends and, more importantly, it acquainted her with the great schools located outside of California. Even after her return to Hercules, all she can talk to us about is how lucky she is and how thankful she is for being accepted to the WCCUSD ILC program. The impact that that ILC program has made on Julia and to us in particular is so tremendous that Julia now wants to go to Cornell University. She has made it evident that Cornell is the best fit and most appropriate choice for her.

As a father of an ILC participant, I can tell you how successful this program is and how the participants are affected only in the most positive way. I immediately noticed a change in Julia when she returned. She is more sure of herself and of her goals. Her stay at Cornell continues to fuel her desire to perform her absolute best in all aspects of her academic life. We hope that the school district will continue to support this program and we’re hoping that it will continue to flourish for years to come so that more students will benefit from it the way my daughter Julia has.

From the bottom of our hearts, THANK YOU to all those who have allowed the Ivy League Connection to continue onward in its success. Congratulations and a job well done!

Sincerely,Victor and Teresita Maniquiz
(Parents of Julia Maniquiz, Hercules High School Class of 2010 & Cornell Summer College alum)

P.S. Last Thursday, we went on a Stanford campus tour. It is a 2 hour tour of Stanford University which brought us to different buildings within the campus and provided us with crucial information about the university. Even after gaining such insight about this top tier school, Julia told us Stanford has nothing compared to Cornell. Even though Stanford is a quick hour long drive away (which means it would be a real easy adjustment for her) Cornell University is still her first choice. That goes to show how the ILC has positively impacted her school choice. It further demonstrates how successful the program is. Kudos to all of you and, once again, you have our unrelenting gratitude.