Tuesday, September 6, 2011

From Alex Elms' Parents


I have to admit, when asked to blog as parents of a student fortunate enough to be selected to attend an Ivy League College summer program, the request seemed daunting to the point of paralysis. We are not the scholars…our son is. So, what follows comes from the heart of a mother and father so proud to be associated with the Ivy League Connection and all it stands for.

What if your student came home with paperwork outlining a program stating that if they wrote an essay on a particular subject, they could be selected to move on to the next stage of said program and be interviewed for attendance at an Ivy League College summer program? At that point in the process, there is no way to grasp the opportunity that lies ahead for your son or daughter. You just do what you always do, you support them and cheer them every step of the way…..secretly keeping your fingers and toes crossed that they are selected to be an ambassador for their high school.

Our son, Alex, is fortunate to attend a high school in the West Contra Costa School District that partners with the Ivy League Connection and was also privileged to be chosen not only once, but twice, to attend a summer program through the Ivy League Connection. Last summer, he attended the Freedom and Justice program at Cornell University. This past summer, he attended an Experimental Physics program at the University of Pennsylvania.

Now, let’s go back to why students are notified of this wonderful program in the first place. They work very hard as students to maintain a high grade point average, they are determined, they are passionate about at least one subject in high school, and most important of all, they have a dream and a desire to advance themselves. (Also, a little bit of competitiveness goes a long way.)

The introduction to the Ivy League Connection is one of the rewards that Alex received for all of the hard work he did. The preparation your student will receive from this program is unprecedented. He was given blogging tutorials, was asked provocative questions to prepare him for his chosen course, and was given all materials required to excel.

He was given the opportunity to experience unparalleled adventures to the East Coast sans parental accompaniment – basically as an adult. While there is always supervision by a chaperone, he was allowed to travel with the expectations of maturity.

Not only did he get to attend a three to four week college course, but also he was exposed to other nearby ivy league universities by way of tours that he was able to assist in arranging. He spoke with Admissions Officers and college representatives. He was able to sit down to dinner with them and ask them questions that every college bound student wants to find out the answers to – what are you looking for in a student, how important is it to be a “well-rounded” student, how big of a part do the SAT/ACT and AP test scores play in acceptance? Without this program, Alex would never have been able to have the opportunity for those conversation.

Once the class started, he learned how to deal with the rigors of a college course, on top of the responsibility of juggling daily homework and daily blogging to keep everyone at home apprised of how he was doing and what intriguing aspects the college campus held for him. He would take pictures daily of his class activities, the beauty of the campus, and the extracurricular activities he would attend, giving us his view on college life that, without this program, he would not have the chance to become familiar with.

Alex met so many young people from all over the world, most of whom he continues to maintain close friendships with. He has learned about different cultures first-hand. He has learned that just because you meet people who live in a country that is very different from your own, it does not mean that you cannot learn from them and be exposed to all that they offer, including their hand in friendship.

I will tell you something else. You will most definitely notice a difference in your student when they return home. The student that left your home only a few weeks ago will return a much more confident, engaging and driven individual. They cannot help but grow when exposed to all that is theirs to grasp.

Now, the people who make all of these wonderful things happen are the founders of the Ivy League Connection, Charles Ramsey and Madeline Kronenberg. We have never met two individuals as driven for students of the West Contra Costa School District to excel as Charles and Madeline. We are forever indebted to you both for bringing Alex into the fold and nurturing him along the way. Another major contributor to the success of this program is Don Gosney, whose tenacity for keeping the students to task is unparalleled. Not only does Don take a mean photo, but his patience and guidance with the students in blogging tutorials and the instruction with the various computer programs the students will be expected to know and understand is incredible.

Last, but certainly not least, are the many sponsors involved. Without their monetary support and ideals, many students would not have the opportunity to see other parts of the country and to experience an ivy league college life. Again, words alone will never be enough to thank all of you. We are humbled and deeply indebted to you as well.

So, if your son or daughter excitedly brings home paperwork talking about the Ivy League Connection, pay attention, be supportive of their work and talents, and get ready for a wonderful, life-altering dream come true for your lucky student!

Mark and Darlene Elms