Saturday, August 18, 2012

From the Parents of Emily Cain

What a Gift
When our daughter, Emily Cain, told us about her interest in applying to the Ivy League Connection, we were in full support.  We knew very little about the program but what we had heard was impressive. She worked diligently on her essays and got herself ready for the interview. When Emily told us that she had been accepted to the Women & Leadership Program at Brown University, we were thrilled at the unique opportunity that we knew awaited her.

The weeks prior to the trip gave us further insights into the program and the hard working individuals that make this program so special.  The informal potluck at ECHS was a great way to meet the other girls going on the trip and the wonderful chaperones. Chaperones, Sewellyn Kaplan, Jackie Timmes and Kat Williams really put everyone at ease with their relaxed presentation and open demeanors. The lovely dinner at Boulevard was a great opportunity to meet and speak with Brown alumni, a few of the sponsors and Charles Ramsey. Attending the School Board meeting and standing for the photo with all the selected students, program leaders and sponsors was an honor.

Before we knew it Emily was driving off in a shuttle at 3:30 AM, with her cohort, heading for the airport. This was the first time that Emily would be away from our family for three weeks; she was totally ready and excited for the days ahead. In the days and weeks that followed we cherished the blogs. The blogs served not only as a terrific skill for the participants but they provided us as parents with a window into the program and the experiences of the participants. Emily was so busy that we rarely spoke on the phone and her text’s mostly read:  “We are soooo busy. I am having a fantastic time…” The Blogs provided the details.

The Ivy League Connection is truly a unique and fabulous opportunity for students of WCCUSD. We would like to extend a special thank you to Charles Ramsey, Madeline Kronenberg, and Don Gosney for their tireless efforts and to the sponsors for making it all possible.

Emily Cain’s parents :  Tracy Westphal and John Cain

From the Parents of Jobel Vecino

July 2011: As soon as Jobel came back from Cornell’s Hotel Operations Management program, I asked him if he wanted to apply for the Ivy League Connection again. He answered yes and I want to take the Grand Strategy Course. Thinking it is in Yale University which is obviously a hard program, I advised him to think it twice and maybe he can apply for the other programs aside from Yale’s Grand Strategies Course. But he is determined to pursue the Yale program.

March 2012: During the interview night his dad and I were anxiously waiting inside the car. That four hours of wait was such a nerve wracking experience. I remember praying hard and a few times thoughts came in my mind what if he didn’t make it. Maybe enroll him in driving class so he will be busy during summer. A group of students then came out but Jobel didn’t show up. Later on, some adults came out and had informed my husband that Jobel made it. As parents we have experienced the overwhelming happiness that our son’s dream could come true. I could still remember when he hugged his dad in happiness informing him that he got in. How I wish I had taken a picture of that moment!

After reading the materials given to them and packing, the day finally came for him to leave for New Haven. His first week was full of experiences and information since they were able to visit different places and universities. Dinners were very informative with regards to each schools admission requirements and each schools setting. They were able to see how the schools look like. They were given a chance to talk with the current students and admission officers as well as ask questions about the universities. These are the special privileges that the WCCUSD Ivy League Ambassadors can avail from joining the program.

Four days ago, he’s back from Yale equipped with knowledge and more experiences. I can see in him that he was very happy. He said the Grand Strategies Course is the best program for him. Each student in that program worked hard to be in and he was very proud to represent the West Contra Costa Unified School District especially Hercules High School. From the college visits, dinners, meeting people and making friends—these helped him improve his personality.

Together with these experiences and the values and wisdom that he learned from home, I could say we are confident enough that he is ready to embark in his journey for college. It had helped him grow as a person. His desire to continue on what the Ivy League Connection started in him is visible by his willingness to share his experiences to the younger students in his school. He wants to help them to become prepared for what lies ahead for the coming challenges important especially—writing essays and preparing for the upcoming interview.

For the new parents who wants to have their children join this program, we can rest assure that the Ivy League Connection is the best program there is. They are very hands on for the whole duration of the program. It would help your kids experience college life in the east coast without compromising their safety. And you can see once they’re back from their journey positive results will be expected.

In closing, the whole family is very grateful to the WCCUSD’s Ivy League Connection for the experiences that our son went through. These informative and unforgettable experiences will not be possible if Jobel haven’t joined the program. It opened his options to continue his college career in the East Coast.

We would like to extend our thanks and gratitude to Mr. Ramsey, Ms. Kronenberg, Don Gosney and to all the wonderful sponsors. To Mr. Litvin and Ms. Neal and to everyone who our son shared his journey with and to all who made this program possible, YOU all deserve a warm applause!

Respectully, Joselito and Belina Vecino

From the Mother of Yessenia Reyna

Hacer Cosas Yo No Pude Hacer; To Do Things I Was Never Able To Do

I remember that cold winter day when my daughter came to me with this incredulous idea. She told me about this program called the Ivy League Connection where they send students to study over at the east coast for the summer. It sounded really nice and all, but I wasn’t too trusting of the whole thing. How could I possibly trust them with my eldest daughter for a whole month? I was about to not let her do this when I realized how great this opportunity could be for my daughter. In the end, I didn’t want to take this amazing opportunity away and stop her from moving forward. Although I was still worried, I agreed to allow my daughter to try and do these things I was never able to do as a teenager. Once she told me she got accepted, my heart filled with so much joy. All the hard work she put in those essays and interview finally paid off and now she would be leaving for an entire month to go to Nashville.

Before she actually left however, the ILC had this plan to let me get more familiar with the people involved, which would help me trust them more. They had several meetings I attended which showed me exactly what would be happening during those 4 weeks. Everyone kindly explained this to me in detail and in a way a worried mother would understand. I also got to meet and talk to my daughter’s chaperone during one of these meetings. At first I was a little surprised to see how many tattoos he had on his arms, but after meeting with him and talking with him several times, I could see that he was the best chaperone possible, and I really wouldn’t have asked for a better one.

Finally, the time came for her departure. Seeing her leave, it really felt as if she was leaving for a year of college. You could say that it prepared me for what is to come in a few years. Overall, this program has made me become more open to letting my daughter leave home. Even though the idea of your first child leaving home scares most mothers like me, I know that this is what life is about. Your child needs to experience life for themselves when they go off to college.

I would like to take the time to thank the Ivy League Connection for all that they have done for my daughter. Thanks to the ILC, I have finally opened my eyes to see the wonderful opportunities that are out there for her and a bunch of other students as well. Even now, it is still hard to imagine a program like this exists for the students of this district. It is absolutely amazing to think of how much work is put into this program and I hope it grows from here.

Thank you,
Dora Reyna

From the Mother of Chris Han

“A Divine Connection”

I thank all of the adults involved for their gifts and generosity.
I thank them all for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity

How has the Ivy League Connection affected me?
The experience has been excellent and extraordinary.
To witness and to see how it has transformed Christopher and me,
I will be forever grateful, for eternity.

He has grown more in maturity,
I have no doubt he can handle the freedom, with the responsibility.
I do not need to fear,
If he decides to attend college far from here.
Because, I know I am in his heart, no matter where.

I thank all the caring adults in this program,
Because of God and His angels
You were able to be a part of something very special.

The opportunities and choices, there is no limit,
You may not know it, or even realize it yet,
But, I expect, God to show us all,
‘How Much Better Can This Get?’

I am proud of what Christopher has accomplished,
And whatever he decides to do, or whoever he becomes,
I will always cherish.
For all I desire is for him to be happy and at peace,
May this always be my heart-felt and sacred wish

I will always be a part of him, and he will always be a part of me,
And I hope when people see us together, they will ask us,
“Why are you so happy?”

Then, I can answer with all sincerity and honesty,
“Because of the Ivy League Connection,
We both have bonded with the most divine connection,
And it has helped both of us be....
Who we were born to be!”

By: Jade Jeong
(Christopher’s Mom)

From the Parents of Alexander Wing

Our son, Alexander, had the most memorable, exciting summer participating in the ILC program at Cornell University. The ILC gave him numerous opportunities, starting at the very beginning with the essay writing and interviews for the program, the orientations and the chance to meet and interact with the supporters of the ILC, Cornell alumni and present Cornell students at the Bay Area Cornell dinner. The dinner was a wonderful opportunity for Alexander to interact with people he did not know and to engage with them on an adult level. Prospect Restaurant was so elegant and the food was delicious - a perfect venue for the event.

The college visits on the East Coast were very well organized and they were most helpful and eye-opening. Participating in the college tours with fellow high school students, and not with his parents, put Alexander in a position to be independent and to figure out for himself what is important for him in choosing a college. He is definitely interested in pursuing colleges on the East Coast and the ILC program gave him a taste for college life in the east.

Once at Cornell, the support from the ILC and the fantastic guidance from Mr. Chan-Law and the Cornell cohort enabled Alexander to learn and grow. He thrived in the academic and social environment at Cornell and he has called this experience for him “life-changing”. The requirement of a daily blog was an inspired addition. Not only did it enable Alexander to reflect on his day, despite how busy he was with his coursework, but it also allowed us at home to follow his activities and get a sense of how he felt about his experiences. The “Freedom and Justice” class surpassed his expectations by providing him with the knowledge to think, defend and support his opinions and to express his ideas verbally and in writing. He received a solid introduction to Plato, John Locke, Communism, Socialism, among other schools of thought, and an understanding of how they relate to present-day thinking, society, government and law! That is quite an accomplishment in only 3 weeks !

The ILC program is phenomenal and words cannot express the appreciation we have for Mr. Ramsey and Ms. Kronenberg for coming up with this vision, bringing it to fruition and for continuing to make it better. A huge thank you to Don Gosney for his tireless efforts in keeping our kids in line, holding them accountable and for arranging the thousands of small but important details that it takes to run and organize this program every year. We would like to thank Mr. Chan-Law for being an amazing chaperone, for keeping our kids safe and stimulated and for being their friend and mentor. And finally, to all of the very generous supporters of the ILC - none of this could happen without you and we thank you for giving our son this opportunity of a lifetime.

Yakesun Wing and Debbie Hayakawa-Wing

From the Parents of Eric Wilson

Overall, we thought the ILC program was excellent. We knew nothing about the ILC prior to Eric’s applying, and we were so pleased to learn that such a program exists in WCCUSD. It was an outstanding opportunity, and we feel very gratified that the district is putting this level of effort into challenging our high-achieving students. A program like this has the potential to raise the bar for everyone. We are grateful for the efforts of those who run the program, as well as the sponsors who invest in our district.

Eric enjoyed the Freedom and Justice course at Cornell and was challenged to work at a higher level. Through the lectures and especially the discussion sections, he gained a broader perspective on learning that we are sure he will apply to the rest of high school and college. The visits to the many eastern universities were a great part of the program as well and really kicked off the college consideration process for him. It is a rare opportunity to meet admissions officers and alumni and receive guidance on the admissions process! Eric is strongly considering applying to Cornell, Penn, and perhaps others. Without the ILC, I believe his consideration of these schools would have been very unlikely.

Eric also enjoyed the support and company of his chaperone, Mr. Chan-Law. Eric thought the level of oversight was just right, and he enjoyed the extra trips and activities, such as to Colgate and Cooperstown, that Mr. Chan-Law provided for the cohort.

In short, a great experience and opportunity. Thanks again to the ILC leaders, team, and sponsors who make this possible.

Patrick and Amy Wilson