Thursday, May 21, 2015

Motivating Meeting

As we dive further into our journey of the Ivy League Connection, we find ourselves attending various events to express how grateful we our to have received this opportunity. Recently the Ivy League Connection attended the WCCUSD board meeting to spread awareness of our program, as well as thank the board and all our sponsors for supporting us. 

On Wednesday May 20th, the Ivy League Connection met at Lovonya Dejean Middle School to present ILC to the community. When my dad and I first got there we had about 15 minutes to find our group and talk to the other members of the ILC. When the meeting started, each cohort found seats together. The meeting opened with the introduction of the board members and summary of De Anza High School's recent progress of the rebuilding of their school. Then it was our turn.

Each cohort was announced one at a time. The cohort's chaperone introduced themselves, explained what we were going to do on our trip, and expressed their gratitude for this opportunity. One student from each cohort gave a speech, representing their cohort, as well as ILC. I thought their speeches went extremely well and I am proud to be represented by our student speakers. They went over topics from how grateful we are to receive this scholarship, to how our community will benefit as a whole from this experience. To finish off the night, the Ivy League Connection moved to the gym to take a group photo.

The Gentlemen of Ivy League Connection

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The School Board Presentation

Today was my birthday, and it was a busy day! The day passed quickly, and soon it was the evening and time for the ILC presentation at the School Board meeting. 

All the ILCers, parents, and chaperones met up at Lovonya DeJean Middle school a little before 6. There were lots of other people attending the School Board meeting as well, and I was very excited because I got to see my English teacher from last year, Ms. Sanders. I was sad that this school year she got moved to teach at DeAnza, and it was nice to catch up with her a little bit.
This was the first time that the entire Ivy League Connection has been together as a group, and it was fun to mingle with the other students and learn what programs they will be attending this summer. We are a diverse group of students and I wish that there were more events with the whole ILC so that I could get to converse more with the students outside of my cohort. 

The meeting agenda started off with formalities, and it was interesting for me to see how the School Board meetings are run as I was not very familiar with the process. After the opening, there was a presentation to honor DeAnza High School, and our Ivy League Connection presentation followed after this. I enjoyed learning who all the other chaperones and ILC participants were, as well as hearing the the site visit locations. I think the site visits will be one of the most valuable aspects of our trips this summer, so it was good to hear the various places people will get to visit. I was also impressed by all the student speakers. I imagine it must of have been very nerve-wracking to present to such a large audience, but I think everyone did admirably. I particularly want to commend my cohort member Jae-An; his speech was well composed, sincere, and represented our cohort honorably.

Our cohort was the last to present, and after Jae-An's speech we returned to our seats to hear from an ILC alum, Michelle. Michelle's speech was incredibly eloquent and inspiring, and I hope that the Ivy League Connection will have as profound an impact on my life as it did for her. I also hope it helps make me as professional a public speaker as she is!

Following Michelle's speech, Don recognized the generosity of our numerous ILC sponsors, and then the whole group went to take a group picture in the gym. Don carefully positioned us for maximum photogenic potential, and then we smiled while he snapped an abundance of photographs. This concluded the School Board presentation for us, and it was time to go home. All the ILC events are happening in rapid succession, and with each one we are one step closer to our trip....I can't wait!

Sore Feet

Today, I woke up tired. It was just one of those days that seemed to drag on and all you want to do is sleep. Anyway somehow I managed to pull myself through my classes.

Literally the whole day my flips were giving me trouble. You know the thing that holds the straps together, I don't know how to explain it, it's the middle part. Anyway it was digging into my skin and making walking a whole lot uncomfortable.  Also the side of one of my toes had skin coming off of it and my new shoes, the ones I wore after my flip flops, gave me blisters. Sorry-not sorry for the horrible imagery, just wanted to give you an insight on how horrible I was feeling.
You kinda see the middle strap thing that hold the flip flops together.
Good news, I got to eat a lot of pizza.

Then my mom, my baby brother (Shahabudin), and I took the bus to Lovonya DeJean Middle School.

On the way there, my Aunt Sheila met up with us.

When I arrived at the school I first talked to a couple of my friends. Then I sat down with my cohort. The board meeting was on roll.

From every cohort somebody gave a speech. Being a terrible public speaker I didn't give the speech-- Jae-An did. His speech was really awesome, like super good.

After and during the speeches shoutouts were given to the awesome sponsers and people involved in making ILC happen.

After all that we all headed towards gym. There all the cohorts, chaperones, and parents took pictures together. Then I headed home. Also it was super cold today like really really cold.  Also it was Tamika's birthday so HAPPY BIRTHDAY TAMIKA!!!!!!!!!

Bodacious Bonding

Last evening was my cohort's meet and greet with our chaperone, Alana Scott. We all met at Fat Apples in El Cerrito at 6:00, as a casual get-together to get to know one another. I had a great time sharing laughs and smiles with Tamika, Aisha, and Ms. Scott. Unfortunately the last member of our group, Jae-en, wasn't able to make it, due to an unexpected Jazz Concert.
All Full of Fat Apples
We walked into a cozy restaurant that made us feel at home. Greeted by a waitress with a warm smile asking the typical, "Can I start you off with something to drink?" I was feeling fancy today, so I went ahead and ordered myself a nice tall glass of lemonade. As we anxiously waited for our food, our conversations varied from the Ivy League Connection to our favorite movies and songs. All together I think this was a successful meet-n-greet and we each walked out knowing more about each other than before.

I Am Almost Speechless

Today was one of the longest days of my life. I woke up around 5:30 AM this morning with a sore throat and a stuffy nose, and immediately remembered that today was the School Board meeting, where I would have to speak on behalf of the UChicago cohort to the School Board. 

Twelve hours later, I was at Lovonya Dejean Middle School, grim-faced and ready. After talking briefly with the assembled ILCers and learning that the UChicago cohort would unfortunately be going up last, the meeting began. I don't remember much about the meeting, since I was rehearsing my speech in my head the whole time, all the while thinking about how I would mess up in front of everyone at the meeting, and everyone watching the School Board meeting from home. 

I ponder my existence while the cohort looks on.
Soon, it was our cohort's turn! I briefly contemplated making a run for it, but all thoughts vanished from my head as our chaperone Alana introduced me as the speaker representing the Chicago cohort. 

I stood at the podium, for a moment not knowing at all what to say. I turned to look at my cohort one last time, and they all shot me encouraging smiles.

Unfortunately, due to the combination of nervousness, a huge burst of adrenaline, and a terrible memory, I don't quite remember what I talked about. But I do remember speaking from the heart.

After an eternity of uncertainty, my cohort and I walked back to our seats. I was instantly flooded with relief. I had survived! And no one had thrown any food at me! After Don recognized all the contributors to the ILC, we headed into the gym to take photos.
The combined 2015 ILC, including the students, parents, and chaperones, in all of its grandeur.
I'm sitting in the front row, the third person from the left.

I am very glad that this whole ordeal is over, although I don't regret taking the speech. This was a very rewarding experience overall, and brings us another step closer to the trip itself. I am very excited for this, but I think that I'm done with public speaking for a while...

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Chocolate Milkshake

So today my cohort was supposed to meet at Fat Apple's. Originally I intended to walk there but then my toe got really hurt, so I asked my mom to drop me off. I thought I was going to get there late but surprisingly I managed to get there early.

Then we all waited for everybody to be there. Once everybody was there we walked in the Fat Apple's. I have never been to Fat Apple's so I didn't know what to expect. The bakery there looked so nice. I was already getting hungry.

We all sat down on a table and just talked about random stuff. I ordered Fish and Chips, although I wasn't able to finish all of it. Then for desert I ordered a chocolate milkshake. That was the best chocolate milkshake I have ever had. It was beautiful it made my whole day.

The time few by and before I knew it was time to go home. I said goodbye to everyone and then waited for my mom to pick me up.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Getting Acquainted

This evening was the meet and greet dinner for our Chicago cohort. Even though we had already been acquainted through our dinner at One Market, I was looking forward to getting to talk to our cohort in a more relaxed setting. Unfortunately, Jae-An was unable to join us because of a concert, but the rest of the cohort-Brandon, Aisha, myself and our chaperone Alana Scott-all met at Fat Apple's restaurant in El Cerrito.
The Chicago Cohort (minus Jae-An) in Casual Wear
Dinner was a pleasant affair, with good food and comfortable conversation. We talked about a variety of topics, including our trip to Chicago this summer, movie interests, and places that we've traveled. I learned that Aisha grew up in Pakistan, that Brandon likes comedy movies, and that Alana's mother is an elementary school teacher. Alana also informed us of the other colleges we'll be visiting on our trip: Washington University in St. Louis, Northwestern, and Notre Dame. I don't know much about any of these schools, so it will certainly be interesting to visit them. I really enjoy the company of my fellow cohort members and had a great time getting to know them better. I can tell we are all very excited for our trip to Chicago this summer!

Our meet and greet dinner was a fun, sociable event. Thank you to the ILC and Alana for organizing it!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Dinner Is Served

Today was the event that I had been looking forward to for weeks: the ILC cohort dinner, where we would get to meet the people who had sponsored us for this summer and alumni who were actually from UChicago. School, an AP test, and a short break all zoomed by until I stood at the El Cerrito Plaza BART Station. And even though I was seven minutes early, everyone was already there. I finally met our chaperone for the summer, Ms. Alana Scott. However, I didn’t get to talk to her as much as I wanted to.

On the way to our restaurant, I talked to my fellow cohort members about random topics, like our hobbies, classes, and aspirations. We had the opportunity to talk more when we arrived. I believe that we’ll get along just fine this summer at UChicago, since we seem to like each other enough.

I was surprisingly calm as we walked in to meet the alumni and sponsors, probably due to the fact that I was exhausted from a weekend trip and an AP test. During the reception, I learned a lot about the University of Chicago from two alumni, Mr. Eduardo Moreno and Mr. Marc Friedman. They offered two different perspectives on the school, and gave very helpful opinions and advice on topics like school life and their own high school experiences. One specific point that kept coming up was how UChicago wanted only students who were passionate about learning, which was why they made some interdisciplinary classes required. Listening to them, I got a better idea of what to do in high school to best prepare yourself for college.

Soon, dinner was served, and we sat down to eat our delicious food. I sat with Mr. Moreno, Ms. Kronenburg, and Mr. Gboyega Aladegbami, one of our respected sponsors. Throughout the meal, we discussed various topics, like putting routers on buses, starting your own business, and Arduino, an open-source computer hardware and software company.
Me(on the left) with some very fantastic people(Mr. Moreno, Ms. Kronenburg, and Mr. Aladegbami).

By the time it was time to leave, the conversation had died down. I thanked the wonderful people I met, and after a few minutes, stepped out onto the street with the rest of my cohort. After meeting so many people, I was ready to go home.

With each ILC event, I look forward to my trip to UChicago this summer even more. Of course, none of this would be possible without help from our sponsors and the alumni, whom I will take this opportunity to thank again.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Delectable Dinner

All month I have been anxiously waiting for Tuesday night, infamous Ivy League Connection dinner at One Market. I was worrying about it all month, thinking to myself, "What do I say? Are the alums nice? Who will the sponsors be?" To my relief, I had nothing to worry about. Right when I walked through the doors of the dining room, I felt welcomed with open arms. I had a great time meeting the many people that made this opportunity possible.

My cohort, along with one of their parents, Don, Ms. Kronenberg, and Ms. Scott, our chaperone, met at the El Cerrito Plaza BART Station at around 5:15. I had a great time socializing with our Chicago group on the 20 min train ride to Embarcadero BART station in San Francisco. As we arrived, we realized we had time to spare. My cohort and I utilized this time to walk around various shops and stores and to get to know each other better. The next thing I knew, I found myself walking through the doors of a fancy restaurant, with a group of smiling people holding out their hands for a warm handshake.

Before we sat down to eat, we took time to introduce ourselves to each of the sponsors and alumni. I had a great time talking with alumni, Eduardo Moreno and Marc Friedman. We conversed about everything I need to know about UChicago, from the dorm rooms to the climate; all while the hostess passed around delicious appetizers. Once we all got comfortable with one another, we found our seats at the tables, and I was pleased to find myself sitting next to no other than Alana Scott and Marc Friedman once again. 

The dinner commenced with various thankful acknowledgment and introduction speeches from Don Gosney, Madeline Kronenberg, Marc Friedman, and my fellow cohort mate, Tamika Whitenack. We started of our meal with a conversation of sites to see, and a salad on the side. The conversation seemed to flow smoothly between, Ms. Scott, Mr. Friedman, my father, and I. I was having a great time listening to one anothers experiences to help me in the future. The short ribs I ordered were exceptional, and I didn't think this night could have gone any better; that is until the dessert came out. I have learned so much from this experience. I am grateful for each and every individual that came out that night to support my friends and I at the University of Chicago.
UChicago Past, Present, and Future

A Delightful Dinner with Phenomenal People

This morning I woke up with a mixture of excitement and anxiety. The Chicago dinner at One Market was this evening, and I was looking forward to the event but also unsure of what to expect. Additionally, I was a little nervous for the speech I would be giving in front of all the sponsors, alumni, and the rest of the Chicago cohort and their parents.

The school day passed by in a blur, and before I knew it I was standing in my dress and high heels with my dad and Don at the El Cerrito Plaza BART station. Soon the other members of the Chicago cohort arrived, as well as Ms. Kronenberg and our chaperone, Alana Scott. It was awesome to finally meet Alana, and I can tell she's going to be an incredible chaperone for our trip. We were able to easily board our train and actually managed to make it to San Francisco with about half an hour to spare before our dinner reservation. The other members of my cohort and I used to the time to wander around and explore, and talk to each other more. While I'm sad that our cohort is small because it means I won't meet as many other students, the size of our group makes it easy for us to get to know one another, and I already feel comfortable talking with Jae-An, Brandon, and Aisha both individually and as a group.

At 6:30 we entered the restaurant and got to meet various alumni and sponsors. We mingled and talked to them, and I found everything they had to say highly enlightening. I spent most of the time conversing with Katie Waddle and Elspeth Micheals, two University of Chicago alums, as well as Alana and Aisha and her mother. Katie and Elspeth were eager to tell us about their experience at University of Chicago and to answer any questions we had. Both of them stressed that one of their favorite things about the school was the culture of the students, and how it was great to be in an environment where everyone is dedicated and enthusiastic about what they're studying and learning. I was also pleased to hear that most students at University of Chicago take multiple types of classes in their first two years, not just classes that could relate to their major. This appealed to me because I'm pretty undecided about what I want to do with my life after college, and I think getting exposure to a variety of classes would be an effective way to learn about what my options are and what I'm truly interested in. Katie and Elspeth also had lots of information to share about the city of Chicago and its many attractions, all of which heightened my excitement for our travels this summer.

The dinner itself began with introductions from Ms. Kronenberg and Don, followed by my speech. I felt that my speech went alright, and although I worry that I rambled a bit, everyone was a very supportive and encouraging audience. After my speech, alumnus Marc Friedman talked about why he's excited for the ILC program at University of Chicago. Following his important speech, we enjoyed our food and continued talking within our table groups. My table consisted of myself, my father, Katie, and Fred Powell, an architect who is one of the sponsors.  I enjoyed learning about what it's like to be an architect from Mr. Powell, as architecture is a career I've been curious about but have limited knowledge about. Katie was also a perfect person for me to talk to, as she works as a teacher in San Francisco and teaching is one of the professions I am seriously considering. The dinner conversation was highly informative and inspiring, and it was fun to hear the stories of these amazing, intelligent people.

Before I knew it, we were being served dessert and the dinner was drawing to a close. Don snapped some group pictures of the Chicago cohort with the wonderful alumni and then we said our good byes and headed home. For me, the dinner at One Market was a special experience and after talking to the alumni, I feel that I am starting to really get an idea of what it will be like to be a student at University of Chicago. Each new ILC event increases my anticipation for the our University of Chicago trip this summer, and I'm grateful to the Ivy League Connection, sponsors, and alumni for contributing to the dinner tonight and organizing this opportunity for us.
The Chicago Cohort and the Alumni

The Dinner

So, today was the Chicago dinner. I was very anxious and excited to go to the dinner. We all met up and took BART to One Market. I was not prepared for the chilly weather. I got to meet my chaperone, Alana Scott. She was super nice and friendly. I already like her.

We arrived a bit early so we got to wander around San Francsico for a while. The night started out with us just talking to and getting to know the alums and sponsers. I got a bit more insight on what to expect in UChicago, since I got to talk to a former RA, Katie Waddle. Then it was time to eat.

Katie, Elspeth, Alana and my mother
I got to talk a lot with Elspeth Michaels, who is an Alumni of UChicago. It was really nice to chat with her. She was really friendly and offered me some good advice. Also the food was pretty good, I was craving an ice cream earlier and we got Ice-cream at dinner so that made me really happy. After long sessions of talking and eating it was time to say our goodbyes. 

By the time we had to leave it was super cold outside but thankfully the BART station was warm. Overall I had fun. I got an oppurtunity a learn a lot more about how the University of Chicago was going to be like, some good places to visit and good college advice.