Monday, August 27, 2012

Wait...There's More?

After the climactic way I ended my reflection blog, I genuinely believed that those would be the last words I would leave as an ILC student, at least for the foreseeable future. But here I am, one week later, blogging once again, ensuring that endings are never the end. Not truly.

But a few weeks beforehand, I was sent an invitation from Mr. Ramsey to take part in the Yale mentor program. The first event was a brunch at the famed Olympic Club (which hosted the US Open this past summer). I did not hesitate to join in.

Ever since I left Yale, I knew that the school was the fit for me. I had flirted with the idea of applying to Yale over the course of the program. As I went through my trip, my fascination and my admiration for the school grew and grew, until finally, I attended the Ivy Scholars Program.

After going through that, it was easy. True, it was only a taste, and an unrealistic one. Some of the best professors of the university had come to lecture us, some of the most talented students had mentored us. But that did not phase me at all, for if this was a taste, then I wanted more. So much more.

And so I found myself headed for the Olympic Club, with my mind both set on the school and very ready to learn more about it from alums.

I didn't really know what to expect as we drove up to the Club. Were we to just eat and talk, were we to meet up with the alumni separately, would I find a mentor off the bat, and so on and so forth. The questions swirled inside my mind and I juggled them in my brain, knowing full well that whatever happens, it would be an educational experience.

And by far, it was. I met with several familiar faces again at the Club, including Dave Olsen, Ken Yamaguchi, and Kao Mo Lau, all of whom I met earlier through the interview process and the Yale dinner in the spring. I spoke with them about my impressions of Yale and discussed several facets of the college life, including the Directed Studies program and the Residential College amenities.

I also had the pleasure to meet and speak with two alums, Melody Pak and Tyler He. Both had recently made their way back to the Bay Area and had been recruited by Mo for the brunch. Melody was a political science major with a background in education -- her dissection of the Directed Studies program to me was incredibly helpful and sold it even more to me, as it offers one of the few limited-student seminars for Freshmen on the campus. Yohanna had informed me of Directed Studies a few months ago during the Yale dinner, and as time grew, I wanted more and more to join it. It is my preferred program choice as a Freshman if I attend Yale.

The other alum I spoke with was Tyler He, a Bay Area native who was mentored by the Ivy Scholars Program Dean Nick Coburn-Palo. I spoke with him about the program, about Nick, about speech and debate and then Yale in general. He affirmed to me that for the personal statement, it should come naturally -- as it helped him with his application process. All of the alums stressed the personal statement, and it's importance. It was the chance to differentiate a candidate, as the basic grades, test scores, and figures usually qualified everyone for admission. It would be the statement that would make the deciding factor.

After the brunch, we exchanged contact information and all went our separate ways. But I must say, the event helped quite a bit in clearing my mind about what I have to do next.

But for now, au revoir. I will return on Sept. 30th, when we go to see the A's take on the Mariners.

From the Parents of Tanya Krishnakumar

Ever since Tanya got into High School, she has been talking about Ivy League Connection (ILC) program.  Fortunately, her good friends were prior ILC participants, who turned out to be great ambassadors for ILC. They instilled the aspiration in Tanya to participate in the ILC program.

She had prepared herself very well for the rigorous selection process.  We remember the day of interview in March; we were nervously waiting outside El Cerrito High School and as every student was coming out, we thought that Tanya’s probability of acceptance increased.  At one point, we could not bear the suspense anymore, so we approached a parent who had just walked out of the school and asked if they saw Tanya.  She mentioned that the only people inside were the finalists which meant that Tanya made the cut and we could not hold our excitement. 

Tanya walked out with three other students, her cohort for the “Grand Strategies” program in Yale.  Our joy knew no bounds; we shared this news immediately with all of our friends and family. 

The events that took place after the selection process were all coordinated impeccably due to the energetic and thorough ILC coordinators Mr. Gosney, Mr. Ramsey and Ms. Kronenberg.  They had an action plan for every step of the program from selection through the actual travel and the summer course.  Don Gosney conducted the initial tutorial session giving us, the parents and the students a walkthrough of the program and a list of things that they would need to survive the travel and the stay in the dorms.  On May 17, we enjoyed an exceptional dinner in RN74, an elegant restaurant in downtown San Francisco amongst the Yale alumni and the ILC sponsors.  Both Tanya and I had great conversations with our tablemates during the dinner and learned a lot about the curriculum and the student life in Yale. Tanya walked out even more excited about going to New Haven, CT and started counting down the days.  I, as the parent, was convinced that this would be the best summer of her life. 

Before we knew, the travel date to Yale arrived on July 22, 2012.  We woke up at 1:30 AM to drop Tanya off at El Cerrito High School.  Here was another opportunity to witness Don’s exemplary organizational skills.  He had the talking points ready to prep not only the cohort traveling but also the parents who were left behind.  He handed us the contact information of all the travelers and the itinerary to keep us informed at all times of the travelers’ whereabouts. 

During the next week, we received a call every evening from Tanya, giving us the report of her day filled with excitement from visiting the campuses to the exclusive dinners with the administrators and/or alumni.  She also shared her experience through the blogs, which provided the visual treats to the reader.  They (the cohort) had travelled to numerous campuses including Georgetown, University of Pennsylvania, Columbia, and Wesleyan to name a few.  The calls diminished as they went to Yale explaining the rigorous schedule of the course.  During one of the few calls that she made, Tanya mentioned about the Marshall Brief and the measures that they took to prepare for it as a group.  It sounded both exciting and exhausting based on the number of hours that they put in for the preparation and presentation.  We heard many good things about the exposure that the kids got through this process.

We could not wait to see Tanya on August 12.  However, we were disappointed to hear that her flight was cancelled and that she could not get back to San Francisco until the next afternoon.  When they finally arrived at SFO, the cohorts were visibly fatigued but glad to be back at home. 

Tanya came back with a positive outlook about the “outside world”, away from her comfort zone (both home and school).  She managed to handle everything independently and bravely.  She is confident about her public speaking skills, which was the biggest achievement from the course.  She learned a lot about the Yale culture, administration, campus and the life in New Haven.  She met some amazing people from around the globe and bonded with few of them.

At the end of the day, this was all possible only because of the Ivy League Connection and we need to thank the organization profusely for giving Tanya this once in a lifetime opportunity to preview the college atmosphere prior to her actual admission to college.  She is now well equipped to be a proud ambassador of the ILC and is looking forward to recruit future candidates for the program. 

At home front, she seems to be more matured and determined to get an admission in one of the Ivy League Colleges, which previously seemed out of reach to us.

Bharathi Iver and Kris Ramamurti

The Advantages Continue

Yesterday, I woke up bright and early. This situation is an anomaly for two reasons: one was that I woke up so early on a Sunday and two was that I was genuinely really excited for the rest of the day.

My mother and I went to El Cerrito Plaza BART station to meet up with the other ILC students, Don, Mr. Ramsey, and others to drive to the Olympic Club to meet up with our respective mentors. Immediately after we arrived at the Olympic Club, we were introduced to and encouraged to talk to representatives from either Brown or Yale. I found that everyone was more than willing to share their experiences and give their two-sense about the whole college application process.

We then ate brunch with a table filled with Yale alums (because I chose to have a Yale mentor) who were so enthusiastic about talking to us. Talking to them really calmed me down as I was already getting overwhelmed by the application process. As my anxiety faded, I felt a new wave of excitement as reality really sunk into me.

When I applied to be a part of Ivy League Connection, I had no idea that I would be a part of such a wonderful opportunity. I would like to express my gratitude for Mr. Ramsey for organizing this event and giving me the chance to have a mentor to guide me through my application process. Also, I would like to thank Mr. Izzy Ramsey for allowing us to meet in such a beautiful location.