Wednesday, August 22, 2012

From the Mother of Aurea Riboroso

First of all, I would like to thank you all for your time, sacrifice and efforts to make this summer program successful.

I was shocked when my daughter told me that she was going to Columbia University. It was so hard because it was her first time being apart from her family for so long. But, she explained to me that it was a great opportunity for her. I didn’t want to be a hindrance to her dreams.

Finally she got my approval but I was still worried about her. When she left, I constantly checked the ILC website to see her blogs: I was so amazed by all her adventures explained in her blogs. It gave me a peace of mind to know she was doing well.

I’m so proud of her. Her growth in maturity and responsibility is astounding. I am very thankful for all the people part of the Ivy League Connection. This is a tremendous program that molds the students for a brighter future.

I also want to thank Mrs. Cheryl Lilhanand for a great job. I know it was a big responsibility to take care of youths for about a month in such big city. I’m grateful that my daughter was part of the ILC.

Mrs. Carmelita Villa

From the Mother of Romina Pelaez

My husband and I are thankful for the opportunity that the Ivy League Connection has given to our daughter, Romina, to be a part of its program—this program that sends qualified students to different prestigious universities and colleges to take up a short course over the summer. We were very happy and proud of her when we first learned about the good news that she was accepted to the ILC. The process that she went through to get into the program was challenging—defending her point of view on a not-so-easy topic through essay writing, experiencing the intense panel interview, and applying to the actual college—already gave her the opportunity to learn how it is like in college and in the real world after college.

The fancy dinner at Boulevard a couple of weeks prior to the trip to the East Coast was also a wonderful experience for Romina where she got to meet and interact with other Ivy Leaguers and sponsors. I can only imagine the wonderful events she's attended back east.

We had mixed emotions about it; happy for Romina because it was an opportunity of a lifetime for her, but at the same time sad because of the 3-week separation from each other. It was very hard for us to let her go because that was the first time that Romina would be away from our family for 3 weeks, considering the distance and fear of not being there with her in case she needed us. Nonetheless, her eagerness and enthusiasm to learn things outside of her usual high school environment changed our mind.

Aside from the academic understanding of the Women and Leadership course, her short stay at Brown University has taught her a lot of things: how to mingle with people from different walks of life, how to handle challenging situations in or outside the campus, how to budget her finances, and most especially independence from us. When she returned from Brown, there was some type of energy I saw in her—some type of drive to pursue her dreams and achieve her goals. The overall ILC experience made Romina a mature and better person, a blessing that she will cherish for the rest of her life.

As a parent, it's difficult to see your child slowly separate from you. Letting Romina go miles away from us at her age was not easy, but now it's definitely safe to say that it was all worth it.

-Dinah Pelaez, mom

From the Mother of David Barba

I first heard about the Ivy League Connection when David came home one day from school and just started talking about it. I was amazed that there was a program like the Ivy League Connection right in our school district, helping our students go beyond their full capabilities. I had my doubts of the program being a full scholarship because it was an Ivy League program, but David took me straight to the ILC website to prove. I have always wanted my children to have a better life than me: to explore the world, to have no worries, and be happy. The only way for them to reach this was by education, so I pushed David to go for the program.

After our conversation about the ILC, I knew it in my heart he would get accepted because he stopped doing his regular activities during the winter break and was focused on the program. His face was so focused on getting in, that when I finally heard that he had made the interview, I was glad to see him smiling again. The interview process was really nerve racking having to wait for everyone to go up, and then an extra hour for the final decisions. While we waited, I can remember him being ready to jump out of his chair, thinking that he was not going to be accepted. I remained hopeful and told him that he still had a chance because he gives himself high standards, and from personal experience as being his mother, he almost always does very well. As the results were being announced, he was surprised to have been accepted. The night ended with excitement for the whole family.
As the months passed, along with each of the events, I could see David’s excitement towards the program. I was a bit nervous myself as a mother, because he has never been away from home for more than a one or two days. The physics program was a month, which made me worry once he was there. After talking with him for the first week, his voice sounded very excited and I could tell by the blogs that he was having lots of fun, which helped take away my worries.

The ILC has opened the world to David, which he was able to do because he always worked hard in school. My family would like to thank Mr. Ramsey, Don Gosney, and Ms. Kronenberg for giving David this wonderful opportunity and for their dedication to help the students of our community to go beyond California. I would also like to thank Ian Lawrence, his chaperone, for the excellent care of the students. David seems more ambitious than ever now, because the Ivy League Connection has shown him hard work does pay off. Once again, thank you to everyone from the Ivy League Connection.

Silvia Barba

From the Mother of Mariko Whitenack

I would first like to express appreciation for the extraordinary opportunities the ILC program provides WCCUSD students.  When Mariko first heard of the ILC program two years ago, I was impressed that a program of such vision and scope existed in the WCCUSD.  As a graduate of El Cerrito High School many years ago, I was one of many classmates who applied only to the University of California Berkeley and did not even consider applying to any universities outside of California.  The entire ILC process requires that students demonstrate maturity and personal responsibility, including time management and interpersonal skills.  The ILC application requires that applicants develop thoughtful written and verbal responses to challenging questions. The ILC dinners expose students to alumni from select schools who describe their experiences of undergraduate, postgraduate, and career choices. Through helping to develop the U Penn group blog site and arrange for college tour dinners, Mariko was required to deal with the challenging responsibility of meeting deadlines and arranging logistics.  The college tours and the mentorship programs allow the students to interact with admissions officers, current students, and alumni; to become familiar with expectations of the application and selection process; and to hear individual insights into the academic, cultural, and social environments of specific colleges.

I was excited when Mariko applied to and was accepted to the ILC program in experimental physics at the University of Pennsylvania.  Experimental physics seemed like an ideal subject for Mariko to apply the enthusiasm for math that she had gained from many exceptional math classes at ECHS to a field with so many real life applications.  Mariko’s experience attending the 4-week experimental physics course was phenomenal.  The curriculum, faculty, and lab facility were exceptional. The course enabled her to get a sense of the level of academic preparation and dedication experienced at selective universities.  The rigorous course provided Mariko an opportunity to process the strengths and challenges of her WCCUSD education.  She also experienced the gender composition of her class, which reflected that of a field marked by one of the lowest representations of women in the sciences. While she reported initial challenges, she emerged with an increased sense of confidence as well as perspective as to which sorts of colleges might provide the academic, physical, and social environment with the best fit. The visits to Washington University in St. Louis, the University of Chicago, and Northwestern University enabled Mariko to consider opportunities in regions of the country she had never experienced. 

I appreciate the dedication and efforts of Charles, Don, and Madeline in developing, coordinating, and sustaining the ILC program for WCCUSD.  Many thanks also to Ian for taking excellent care of the U Penn group of students.  I hope that the returning ILC students take the opportunity to share with their fellow students their experiences of the opportunities that selective colleges offer, the academic rigor required, and intellectual rewards gained.  Mariko is extremely fortunate to have benefited from the life-changing experience the ILC has afforded her.  The WCCUSD ILC program serves as a model that many other school districts could seek to emulate to provide such invaluable experiences to their students.

Catherine Chin