Tuesday, August 20, 2013

From the Parents of Loan Chung

The Ivy League Connection has been an absolute godsend. 

We were not too sure about this program at first. Sending our daughter across the country seemed like a very foreign idea and it took a lot to finally get used to it. But after seeing what it has given our daughter we just can’t give enough thanks. 

We always worry about the fact that we can’t help our daughter with her education due to our lack of English skills. We cannot tell her which college is good or what she should do after high school. Thanks to this program, Loan now has been exposed to different colleges and learning environments. She now has a much better idea of what she wants to pursue in the future. It is so great to hear her talk about her newfound dream college. Seeing her become so much more determined about medical school after the course at Vanderbilt is truly satisfying.

We thank the members of the Ivy League Connecting for their dedication. Without them we would never dream of such an opportunity being given to Loan.

Cuong and Chuong Chung

From the Mother of Thomas Johnston

My son, Thomas Johnston, went to Vanderbilt University with the ILC. This was an amazing experience for him! He got to travel, he learned a lot of math, he now has a much better sense of what he wants in a college, and became more confident and independent.

First of all, Thomas got to travel for a week prior to starting classes. How many students have a chance to spend the Fourth of July in Washington, D.C.? He also visited New York City, and Philadelphia. They had a chance to tour Columbia University, Georgetown University, and the University of Pennsylvania. What an amazing trip!

Secondly, Thomas learned a lot of math while at Vanderbilt University. This was the first time ever that Thomas was challenged in math. I could tell from reading his daily blogs that he was enjoying this challenge enormously. He said he learned more math there in a day, than in an entire semester in high school. His instructor, Dawson Gray, was phenomenal!

Thirdly, Thomas has a much better sense now of what he is looking for in a college. He got to visit four different colleges. He had a chance to talk with several alumni and found out it is possible to double major in engineering and music performance. Thomas now also has a much better understanding of the admissions process. He had a chance to listen to and speak with several admissions officers, and he participated in a mock admissions panel where he got to look at mock applications and decide who to accept or wait list.

Lastly, I feel that Thomas has become much more confident and independent. He took the initiative to talk with admissions officers one-on-one to get answers to his questions about double majoring. I don't think he would have had the courage to do that six months ago. Moreover, he learned how to get along with a roommate, how to do laundry, how to manage his time so he could squeeze in early morning work-outs before breakfast, and get his daily blog done before lights out. Above all, he came back with a real focus on what he wants out of his education, and seems very confident that he will achieve the high goals he has set for himself.

I want to thank Mr. Ramsey and Ms. Kronenberg for their time and efforts in finding sponsors for the amazing ILC program. I want to thank Don Gosney for the endless hours he spent planning and organizing the logistics of the program, and for teaching the students how to blog (our family absolutely loved being able to read the blog of each day's adventures!) I want to thank Mr. Mannix for being a great chaperone for the Vanderbilt cohort, and for making healthy care packages for the students when there wasn't enough time for sit-down meals.

Catherine Johnston

From the Mother of Kimberly de Dios

I couldn’t be any happier the moment I found out that my daughter Kimberly was accepted into the ILC in December of 2013. Before applying, she mentioned the opportunities the Ivy League Connection could provide for WCCUSD students. She explained to me how she could travel to East Coast universities and eventually attend a summer school program at no cost to our family. I didn’t know that any such program could exist. Because this was such a great opportunity, I gave her my blessing. Although she’s never been away from home for more than three days at a time, I couldn’t let my apprehension for her safety get in the way of this great opportunity.

When Kimberly and I attended these milestone events before her upcoming trip, I realized that this was going to be really good in order for her to grow and mature. At the dinner at La Folie in San Francisco, I met alumni of Vanderbilt University and benefactors of the ILC. I could see that this was beginning to broaden Kimberly’s college aspirations. And as for me, I had no idea that sending my child to a university outside of California could ever be financially feasible. But it was then that I started to realize that she could study outside of California if she chose to.

Reading Kimberly’s blog from when she saw Pinole Valley grad Dyana So now attending UPenn, I know that my daughter isn’t limited to applying to schools under the University of California system. Each of her posts during her stay in the East Coast has further opened my eyes. I never would have dreamed of being this far away from home at her age.

When my daughter came back, I felt that she had grown and matured from her experiences. She had the opportunity to attend the Med School 101 course at Vanderbilt University for three weeks and tour three colleges beforehand. At the Vanderbilt Summer Academy, she stayed in the dorms and attended class for six hours. It initially pained me not to be there for her. But she managed to be on her own. This was a golden opportunity for me to see Kimberly in a new light, ready to begin her college path as she now faces her senior year at Pinole Valley High School.

On behalf of my husband and I, I’d like to thank Mr. Ramsey, Ms. Kronenberg, Don, and all the sponsors for making the Ivy League Connection available to students like my daughter Kimberly. And thank you Mr. Mannix for taking care of the Vanderbilt cohort. You’ve given my daughter a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Barbara de Dios

Saturday, August 17, 2013

From the Mother of Keli’i Rubin

Ever since the first day I learned that I was required to write a blog, I have been thinking about what I would say. I wrote many generic paragraphs of ways to say 'Thank you'. However, after my son came back I realized just how much those generic paragraphs would not do this program justice. 

As a single mom, I always wanted the best for my children. I was pregnant with my son at a young age and I didn’t get to go to a four year college like I always dreamed I would so naturally I always wanted more for my children. I just didn’t know how I would get it for them. At best I prayed for good grades so they could get a scholarship. 

This program gave my son a rare opportunity that I believe have changed the course of his and my other children's lives. My son was able to see his hard work pay off, which is a life lesson that will benefit and motivate him throughout his life.  

My younger children watched his journey and my daughter who was having trouble last year in school, told me she plans on working harder this year in school so that she can be like her big brother. Talk about a proud mother moment. 

When my son came back from his trip I got a chance to live through his eyes. Through his eyes I took my first airplane flight to the east coast. I stood in Washington, D.C. and could hear the fireworks for the first time. I stood at the Martin Luther King statue and felt a sense of pride I have only read about in history books. Through my son's eyes and experience I was able to attend classes and stay in a dorm. 

The ILC made this possible for him. ILC made this experience possible for me. I don’t know how to thank the program sponsors for all they have done for my son. I don’t know how to express my thanks for staying with my son when he had an allergic reaction to nuts and had to be hospitalized for the first time thousands of miles away from home. I feel 'thank you' is not enough to say to this program for taking my son all the way on the other side of the country and bring him back safe and sound.  He came back eager to go to college in Georgetown (Go figure since that is not the college he attended but only briefly visited). I do not know how to say thank you for keeping me updated on all the activities and keeping  me informed on every expected and unexpected adventure so I can have a peace of mind and sleep at night. So I will not say Thank You because it just is not enough. Instead I will say this program is a blessing and you have changed the course of our life. I am truly grateful for the ILC