Words seem like they do no justice to describe my experience with the Ivy League Connection and at Yale this summer – both experiences were just too great to put into simply into words. I had been told that being a part of these two programs would change my life, and I only now realize to what extent that is true.
I started my journey with the ILC almost two years ago, when I applied to the Brown DNA program. Unfortunately, I, having no advanced biology knowledge, did not get into that program. This rejection did not stop me from applying the year after – it is surreal to even think that it was almost a year ago that Don came to my school to introduce the ILC. With help of my counselor, peers, and parents, I got accepted to be a part of the cohort assigned to Yale University.
I still remember Don giving us our first reading assignment – Global Governance, Peloponnesian War, etc. I was warned of the rigors of this course from the beginning, but that definitely motivated me. Initially, I was afraid that I would not be a good fit when I saw my reading list, as I always did not think of myself as too good in history or social sciences. Again, as I began to read, I realized that I was mistaken. I thoroughly enjoyed my reading; this point of revelation was when my excitement escalated.
As May came along, I was overwhelmed with ILC events – dinner, school board meeting, city council meeting, and a tutorial, all of which introduced at least something new to me. The dinner was a brand new experience, as I have never had such an elegant dinner with so many honorable guests before. I got a chance to talk to Yale Undergraduates and alums who gave me a wealth of new information about Yale, including life, academics, and rigors, amongst much more. Having lived in WCCUSD for almost my entire life, I have never gone to a school board meeting before ILC. I really felt like I learned a lot about the district and a lot of people in it during the meetings. I’ve been to very few city council meetings, so going to this one through ILC was very special, especially seeing how proud the other delegates and I made the city. Finally, the tutorial was just information about the miscellaneous things, including the borrowed items from Don.
After the last event, I felt like I waited eons to go to Yale. But when I got there, the wait seemed so minute. The first week of touring colleges was informative, as I would have never had the opportunity to do so without the aid of ILC. Also, all of the dinners with the representatives from each school were fascinating, and for me, the Columbia dinner was the best one of them all. The hotels we stayed in, the restaurants we ate at, the places we went – all were simply amazing.
Then came the best part: the actual course itself. When we arrived at Yale, everything again seemed surreal. It was odd to think how many months had passed since I got accepted to ILC and all that it has done for me. The rigors of Yale were apparent immediately, as we started the lectures the night of our arrival. However, I also made friends as quickly, which made the tiring day seem bearable. Afterwards, we had lectures every day from 9:30 in the morning to 10 at night. The lectures versatile to say the least – one day, we began with a lecture on North Korean Foreign Affairs and ended with one about Winston Churchill. The lectures were did not have many assignments with them except various reading; this made the lectures all the more interesting, as the entire class was not forced to be preoccupied with assignments or homework. We were, as a class, receptive and extremely interested in all of the lectures. After the lectures came the biggest task of them all: the Marshall Brief. When we were introduced to our group members and given our topics, I was elated – I got the topic I wanted (Nuclear Proliferation in Iran and the Middle East) and my group mates seemed great. After long nights, panic attacks, and of course, lots of coffee to keep us awake, we managed to finish our Marshall Brief on time. The next task was to present it in front of a harsh panel dubbed the “Murder Board.” Although our panel was tough, we got through the presentation in one piece and as a group.
Overall, my experience in Yale was wonderful. I made wonderful friendships, saw a world outside of WCCUSD, listened to world-class professors lecture on incredibly interesting topics, and had an amazing time. None of this would be possible without the help of the Ivy League Connection. I think the Yale program and ILC have prepared me well for not only my senior year in high school, but also college, which is less than a year away.