Where do I even begin? This whole trip has been one amazing, memorable experience that I will no doubt remember for the rest of my days. So much has happened from the moment I walked into the interview room to the moment I was reunited with my parents the other day, and every moment in between taught me something new, whether it was to treat sleep like a precious treasure or how to manage my time more effectively. It would be impossible to go through every perfect moment in one blog, so I’ll hit on the highlights.
Back in January or February was one of the most hyped moments of my life. I still remember barely being able to think when I found out that I had been selected for the ILC after several hours of painful waiting. I was overjoyed, but I also had no idea why I had been selected. There must have been someone else more qualified than me in that room, so why me? Maybe it was the fact that I was interviewed first without a complaint. Maybe it was one of my several terrible attempts at humor during the interview. It’s likely that I’ll never know for sure. Whatever the reason, I swore to accept the responsibilities that came with the honor and to do my best to represent the ILC, the school district, and myself.
Before the actual trip, however, I had to face some trials, the most difficult being my speech before the school board. I have to say that this was one of the most intense moments of my life, as I learned the challenges of real public speaking. I’ll admit that the speech everyone saw was not the one that I prepared; after hearing everyone else’s, I had to revise my prepared speech on the fly so that it actually fit in with the other speeches. Another important event was the dinner with the UChicago alums and our esteemed sponsors. In these two events, I met the people that I would be representing while in Chicago. This was an awesome responsibility that I didn’t know if I could handle. Even now, I still wonder if I truly completed this part of my mission as part of the ILC.
After the months of waiting and preparing for my class, I found myself sitting on a plane, on my way to the Midwest. This was the first leg of the journey, where the cohort spent lots of time together touring schools, eating good food and staying in fancy hotels. One of the most important things I gained from this period was a look at the variety of advantages in private universities. You don’t really see a great student-faculty ratio at UCs. You don’t see very good financial aid, either. I learned that it was things like this that make private schools worthwhile. Touring these colleges also got me thinking seriously about my future. What am I looking for in a school? Is engineering what I’m truly passionate about? These are all things that I asked myself as we went from university to university. I found answers to some of these questions, while I’m still pondering some of the others.
It was also during this time that I have some of the fondest memories of the cohort. I remember having lots of fun with everyone. There was that one time when we climbed 50 flights of stairs trying to see if we could reach the roof of the hotel, only to find that the door was locked! There was also that time that we all had a movie night in someone’s room, where we ordered room service and watched Pitch Perfect 2 (I liked the first one better). Thank you to Brandon, Tamika, and Aisha for being a great cohort! And while I’m at it, thank you to Alana for being an excellent chaperone, and for checking in with us every week.
|This is Dominic, one of the wonderful|
people that I met on the trip.
Perhaps the most important aspect of this trip was staying in the dorms at UChicago and attending class every day. We were given considerable autonomy, and had to keep ourselves in check. For me, this meant meticulous scheduling every day as I struggled to keep up with everyone else in class. There were times when I thought that I wouldn’t make it, when I couldn’t keep up. But I remembered why I was there, and managed to pull through. Throughout the three weeks of class, I improved my work ethic and efficiency, and gradually began to enjoy myself. I loved that everyone in my class was passionate about what we were learning about, and would study material themselves if needed, just to learn about the things that interested them. I learned about the power of the thirst of knowledge. But all too soon, I found myself on a plane back to San Francisco, California, returning to my beloved home.
These last few days have been odd for me. I’ve been trying to recover from a cough and lack of sleep, so I’ve been taking it easy, sleeping long hours. But it feels like now that I’ve gotten a taste of the challenging, even fun rigor of class and living independently, I can’t help but want to push myself again. It’s strange to think everything that’s happened has changed me from the disorganized, introverted, sullen kid I was before everything began. I’ve met new people, tried new things, pushed myself to the limit, done laundry for the first time…Even though it was a struggle at times, I enjoyed every moment. I learned. I improved. And ultimately, I succeeded.
I would like to thank everyone who made this trip possible. Thank you to: Don, Ms. Kronenburg, and the Ivy League Connection for pulling everything together; the sponsors, since none of this would have happened without them; the school board for allowing us to experience this; the panelists; my cohort again for being great people; and lastly, my wonderful family for advising me when I needed help. This trip has been one of my most significant experiences so far, and I’ve learned and grown a lot. Thank you.
Tomorrow is another day.