Friday, May 27, 2016

Words of Gratitude and Thundering Applause

I've always felt nervous about speaking in front of an audience, despite my experience. I have done dance for nine years, have acted, competed in Poetry Out Loud, and am part of my school's debate team, yet the nerves never fail to appear.

The WCCUSD Board of Education meeting was no exception.

The annual acknowledgement of and thanks given by Ivy League Connection is held within a meeting between the public and the Board. Although there are many other items on the agenda, every cohort is given the chance to express its gratitude toward the Board, the sponsors, and everyone else who offered support for allowing them to attend their respective universities. Two speakers deliver a short speech on behalf of their cohort: the appointed chaperone and one cohort member.

 I volunteered to be one of the speakers at the meeting despite my slight apprehension because I knew it would be an opportunity I'd regret passing up: I enjoy writing and performing immensely, and I saw a chance to express my gratuity to those supporting our journey to Brown. 

The girls and I before the presentation started.
Left to right: Komal, Bailey, Krystal, Lynda, me, and Aimee.
The meeting was held at Lovonya Dejean Middle School in the multi-purpose room. All the members of Ivy League Connection had arrived, we sat in our reserved seats and waited for things to begin. I was fascinated by the politics of it all: protestors had come with signs expressing their stances on what seemed to be hotly debated topics, and the Board members arrived and took their seats stoically.

Eventually, all were present and prepared to hold the anticipated meeting. A few formalities were addressed, and then the time stand came before I knew it.

Every cohort was met with enthusiastic applause. All the speakers brought their best and expressed their thankfulness for this program. I felt exceedingly happy to be a part of such a diverse and lucky group of students ready to take on their summers at an Ivy League.

Everything went along quite smoothly and our event ended quickly. Immediately after, we were herded to a spot outside for a group photo that included the students, the chaperones, and the parents. Needless to say, a few minutes were spent organizing everyone and many pictures needed to be taken.

We all enjoyed ourselves, though, and are looking forward to the next experience Ivy League Connection will bring us.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Anticipation and Elation

I just want to say this has been a very long week. My last week of school, finals, and the Ivy League Connection school board presentation. Through it all though this presentation was definitely something I looked forward to. I am the student representative on our WCCUSD School Board and this event was something I've gotten used to going to. Although usually, I am up on stage listening and not in the crowd apart of presentations.

Ivy League Connection Brown Cohort
Komal, Bailey (me), Krystal, Lynda, Camila, and Aimee
I arrived at the board meeting, after finishing my penultimate final exam for the week, at around 5:45 PM. I immediately walked in and saw a huge crowd of protestors. I have been to a majority of the school board meetings this semester and I believe this was the biggest turnout yet. I was then able to spot a few members of my Brown cohort and even saw a few familiar faces that I know outside of the ILC. I also was greeted by our Brown chaperone, Joanne Whitlock. After mingling for a bit my Brown cohort and chaperone went over our positions when presenting, snapped a few pictures, and took seats in the reserved ILC seating area.

The view of the large crowd from the stage.
After a little over half an hour it was time for me to get on stage and for the board meeting to begin. After our first agenda items such as the usual welcome and meeting procedures I was recognized for participating as the student board representative (This was a big meeting for me in multiple ways). Next on the agenda was the ILC presentation. Vince Rhea was the presenter for ILC and introduced each cohort to the board. After two out of the five cohorts presented it was Brown's turn. The cohort walked with the flag to the front of the board and since I was not sitting with them in the crowd I met them halfway when walking from the stage. Mrs. Whitlock started by introducing each member of our cohort and giving a little background on our course and what we expect to gain from it. It was then Camila's turn to speak and she gave a wonderful presentation which I believe summarized majority of our cohort's thoughts and expressed our great gratitude for everyone who continues to support the ILC. The rest of the cohorts continued with their presentations and then we were left with two more presenters.

Arnold Dimas' was a former member of the Ivy League Connection and he gave us a great presentation on his experiences in the program. He reminded us of the many challenging times we will face as well as the many great experiences we will face. It was truly a great speech and made me excited to see how I will come out a changed person through the ILC. Our last presenter was Don who again expressed our gratitude to the supporters of the ILC and to us, the ILC scholarship recipients.

Finally, we went outside with the parents for a group picture, there was a very nice setup and I believe the picture came out wonderfully. After the group shot everybody got to mingle but I had to rush back inside to listen to all the important information and opinions in today's board meeting.

One last thing I forgot to mention, today we got a list of possible schools we might visit on our trip. This was probably the most exciting news of the night as I've been looking forward to this piece of the experience. We may possibly be visiting Emory University, Colombia University, and The University of Pennsylvania. Once again, with every step we make I become more excited for the journey we are about to endure. I got out of the board meeting fairly late and now it's time to get back to finals week and soon, the Ivy League Connection Brown Dinner.

Board of Excitements

As I braided my hair to get ready for the school board meeting, my parents walked into my room expressing how proud they are of my accomplishment. They're one of my biggest motivations and I'm happy they're there supporting me every step of the way.

As my mother and I arrived at  Lovonya Dejean Middle School, I immediately met with Komal and we walked in to the multi-purpose room together. As the crowd slowly gathered up we managed to find the rest of our cohort on the other side of the room.

From left to right: Komal, Bailey, Krystal, Me (Lynda), Camila, and Aimee

We saw our chaperone, Joanne Whitlock, had a quick chat and decided it would be the perfect time to take some pictures. Mini photo shoots are always key with the Ivy League.  Once we sat down, Mrs. Whitlock passed around a list of possible colleges we might visit: Emory University, Columbia University, and University of Pennsylvania. After seeing the list of possible colleges, I got very excited because these are some of the schools I was planning to apply to in the future, and it would be great to visit them beforehand and get a feeling of how they are like.

Once the meeting began, we were moved up to be one of the first presentations. As we were the third cohort to go up, I was very nervous and excited due to the fact that there was many people there. As stood up there, I was very proud of what I had accomplished, and since there was so many children there, I hoped they looked at us as role models. We were introduced to the school board by our chaperone, and then it was Camila's turn to speak. I can't emphasize on how great her speech was, I was mind-blown.

Krystal and I
All the rest of the cohorts went up and it was Arnold Dimas' turn to speak, a former ILCer and a Gates Millennium Scholarship recipient. I was very impressed by his speech. He told us the story about how he didn't get into ILC after his first interview, but that didn't stop him. It empowered him to do even better when it came to the second round. There was a few bumps along the way, but to get the Gates Millennium Scholarship clearly shows that nothing stopped him from trying, and I will always keep that in mind, because there is always different, great opportunities.

I couldn't think of anyone better than Don to end the presentation, since he is the one making this whole opportunity possible. Don concluded the presentation with a great speech honoring us all, and thanking all the sponsors.

Then came the famous group photo, it was full of laughs and smiles. I couldn't imagine a better way to my day.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Words of Appreciation and Excitement

I feel like our day is nearly approaching us every single time that we meet up. Next on the list was today's School Board Presentation at Lavonya DeJean Middle School, I brought my mother along to participate in this event with me. This was my very first time being at such presentation with such important leaders of our school district, these are the people who are in charge of improving our education and that is a big deal. I was full of excitement and I felt a little nervous.

Once I arrived in the multi- purpose room I greeted and introduced my mother to our chaperone, Joanne and the rest of the Brown Cohort. The girls and I got together after and snapped some group pictures of course. Then we made our way onto our reserved seats where we anxiously waited for the presentation to start. Meanwhile we chatted on our directions over the order that we would be standing while we faced the board leaders, the room was slowly filling up with protesters, cameras, and people from the community.
'16 Brown Women & Leadership Cohort.
Komal, Bailey, Me, Lynda, Camila, and Aimee.
During the presentation.
The waiting time was over and the presentation opened with The Pledge of Allegiance. The Ivy League Connection was the first discussion of the presentation. Vince Rhea introduced each and every cohort group; Cornell, Penn, Vanderbilt, Chicago, and our school, Brown. Everyone went up and stood in front of the school board with their bright smiles, we thank the board, Don, and everyone else who made this amazing opportunity happen. Each cohort chaperone and one of our students gave their appreciation speeches in their own words and it was so nice hearing what all the speakers had to say. It went so perfect. 

Then Arnold Dimas, a former 2 year ILCer and Gates Millenium winner had the opportunity to talk in front of the board and to all of the ILCers of this year. I really liked what he had to say and it was very inspirational that he didn't give up after he wasn't chosen for the first time. Rather he tried and remained insistent, and this reminded me of myself. The first year I applied to the ILC program I got interviewed but I wasn't selected, but that didn't stop me from trying once again this year. Being able to relate with someone makes me feel like there is many more people who also go through the same and how he is now succeeding as of now for his future it gives me the biggest motivation to keep doing what I do.

Don closed the ILC discussion with an amazing speech that really spoke out for everyone part of this program. After we headed to the courtyard where we took our group picture with the chaperones and the parents. Don took like a million of pictures and the flash blinded me for about a minute to the point that I would just blink every time the flash went off, but I am sure a good picture will come out.

This was my very first time attending a school board presentation and I have to say it is very great see and feel the support from the board and our community. Despite of the pressured feeling of smiling and trying to look my best in front of the many cameras shooting during this event, it all went well and pretty fast. Everyone was looking very lovely today and it was nice seeing all of the shining bright faces once again. It's truly a pleasure to see the resemblance of excitement that I have on the rest of the ILCers as well. I really can't wait for this amazing trip.
Lynda and I.

Great Words and Big Smiles

Today was a day filled with surprises, pleasant words, and plenty of smiles.

My friend Jahnvi and I, and our mothers, arrived at Lavonya DeJean Middle School half an hour earlier than Don's designated time. Before we entered the auditorium, we decided to hold a small photo shoot. The chilly wind somewhat ruined our plans, but we managed to snap a few nice clicks.
A product of the photo session.
After entering the auditorium, we met up with other ILCers who were clustered in a corner of the grand hall. We all chatted for a while before my chaperone, Mrs. Whitlock, called together the Brown cohort to discuss the events for the evening. Mrs. Whitlock also informed us that before we go to Brown we will possibly be visiting Emory University, University of Pennsylvania, and Columbia University. I am so thrilled to visit these colleges! I have always wanted to visit these three universities and maybe it will happen this summer. I am so, so, so excited!
I walked into this cluster of ILCers. 
Soon after, all of us "Brownies" took a group photo and settled down. 
The 2016 Women and  Leadership Cohort!
The first two rows of seats were reserved for the ILC. This made me feel like special, I felt like a V.I.P.
I chatted with Camila for a while about the different debate competitions she and her school is a part of and shared the competitions and events my debate team participates in. During this time, I noticed the hall becoming packed with protesters. I overheard a few say that there was going to be a heated debate over an issue that involved the conversion of the old Adams Middle School to a new charter school known as the Caliber Charter School in Richmond.  
This is how the hall looked, packed with protesters. The majority of the people, wearing blue-colored clothing, were there for the charter school issue. 
After all the school board members arrived, the meeting began. The ILC presentation was first on the list of events for the evening. Vince Rhea introduced the ILC to the school board and audience. He then called each of the cohorts one by one. Brown was third on the list. When we were called to the front of the podium, Ms. Whitlock introduced all of us. Then Camila took the spotlight and gave a splendid speech that expressed all of our excitement, aspirations, and gratification for our ILC trip. The school board members met us with smiles and the audience with a supporting applause. 

After all the cohorts presented, Arnold Dimas, a two time ILCer and a Bill Gates Millennium Scholarship recipient, spoke a few words describing how the ILC changed his life. His experience was very relatable as I have grown in a similar manner after being a part of the ILC last year. Like him, I have experienced rejections while applying for ILC scholarships and have learned to work even harder when applying again. I have become stronger and more open to pursuing opportunities available around me, all thanks to the ILC. 

Then, Don Gosney, the man that makes the Ivy League Connection experience possible for every ILCer and someone who I can't be thankful enough of, spoke a few words about the ILC, the incredible changes it has brought in our community, and the remarkable, unwavering support of our lovely sponsors that make the ILC journey possible for more and more students every year. I am very proud that the ILC has introduced so many opportunities for the talented students of my school district. If it wasn't for the ILC, possibly the number of students that attend Ivy Leagues and colleges outsides of California from my school district would be significantly low. Thank you so much ILC, thank you.
Don speaking to the School Board.
After the presentation, all of us ILCers went outside of the auditorium to take a group picture with all the students, chaperones, and parents. Don carefully organized all of us for his masterpiece. He then took a bazillion pictures. After Don's photo session, the event ended. We all started chatting in small groups and taking more pictures with friends. I went home with excitement and gratification. 
The Hercules ILCers! From left to right: Ryan Cutter, Ernestina Hsieh, me, and Jahnvi Doshi. Ryan and Ernestina are going to the University of Chicago and Jahnvi is going to Vanderbilt University. I suggest checking out their blogs! :)
Don's Masterpiece

Lights, Camera, Smile for the Presentation!

Every event that occurs with ILC marks one more closer to our trip east to the colleges. The School Board Presentation today was yet another new and very different experience. I invited my parents to come to the presentation today with me at Lovonya DeJean Middle School. They too were excited to see all the faces of the school district and the ILCers especially. 

When we entered the Multi-Purpose Room, I let them sit down while I talked to other ILCers and greeted my chaperone Joanne. Everyone was looking sharp with their outfits. I got there quite early, so we waited a while until the meeting actually started. Meanwhile, my Brown cohort took some group photos and sat at our reserved seats waiting patiently while holding our college flag.

The lovely Brown cohort
Komal, Bailey, Krystal, Lynda, Camila, Aimee

There was a lot of time for me to look around. The room was really big and it was full of people by the time it started. Protesters were holding signs across the room. It was a little noisy and full of chatter inside but my focus was on the panel onstage and the ILC. There were cameras in every angle and of course, Don was one of the photographers. 

The meeting finally started at around 6:40 PM. Members of the meeting were introduced and the Ivy League Connection was recognized. Vince Rhea was opening the presentation and introducing each cohort. All the cohorts went up for their turns and the chaperone and one student spoke for each.  The speeches made were so full of thought and sincerity. I felt so proud seeing all the students go up and represent their schools because I know the application process was challenging. I really look forward to seeing the change that this program will bring to all of us. 

Even today, I saw a lot of bright smiles and anticipation for our summer programs. Also, hearing Arnold Dimas talk, a Richmond High senior who participated in the ILC for two years and is a Gate Millennium Scholar, really inspired me because I had a similar experience as him not getting accepted to the ILC my first time applying. When there's opportunity, it must be pursued. He also displayed that Richmond High students are not the thugs that some people have stereotyped us to be. The WCCUSD definitely has intelligent and hard-working people. Each student is truly impressive and this wouldn't be possible without all the people who have helped out with the ILC. We are all very thankful.

Afterwards, Don took numerous photos of the cohorts, chaperones and parents altogether. Trying not to blink wasn't the easiest. Richmond High Principal DeLeon also got all the Richmond students to take nice group photos together.

ILC cohorts, chaperones and parents

Arnold, Jacqueline, Aimee, Mr. DeLeon, Diana, Edward and Mauricio

I ended my eventful day out by getting dinner at Amazing Kitchen with my parents. We ordered Pan Fried Noodles and Beef Fried Rice. 

My parents are excited for me.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

A Lovely Rendezvous at Romano's

I am happy to announce that I love my cohort.

We were all seated and ready to eat at 5:00 PM inside Romano's Macaroni Grill, which is one of the many eateries within the El Cerrito Plaza. Although I live ten minutes away from the plaza and am quite familiar with it, it was the first time in at least a decade that I had eaten there, so it might as well have been an entirely new restaurant to my palate. I thought this was fitting: new people, new food!
The pizza was absolutely delicious

We chattered amicably for the rest of the evening. Komal had been to Brown the summer before and was able to answer some questions of ours. As we progressed from entrée to desert, it became clear to me that all of us felt excited about the few weeks we had left until the trip. It appeared as though most of the girls there had felt at least partially inspired to attend the Women and Leadership program because of its effect on one's confidence. That was a perspective I hadn't entirely identified with when I decided I wanted to apply: I was primarily interested in learning about the theory of the course. I feel glad that I am joined by others with somewhat different views, because it adds much more uniqueness to the experience.

Joanne, our chaperone, was great. She seems genuinely interested in what we're doing and what we will do at Brown: I know she'll be a wonderful addition to our group. 

Tonight, after getting to know everyone a little bit more, I'm confident in saying we'e all going to get along wonderfully and have fun on our journey to Brown. 
The girls and I after dinner!
Left to right: Komal, Lynda, Bailey, Krystal, Aimee, and me

Feast and Friends at Romano's Macaroni Grill

It was 3:30 PM when school ended. I was ready to leave and change for the meet and greet at Romano's Macaroni Grill. I had been anxiously waiting for this event the whole day. I was ready to feast on Italian food and make new friends. 

Because I didn't have a ride to the restaurant, my chaperone, Mrs. Joanne Whitlock, also my AP United States History teacher, offered to give me a ride since we both live in the same city. She picked me up around 4:30 PM and we drove to Romano's Macaroni Grill in El Cerrito. Since there wasn't much traffic, we got there early. After a few minutes, Aimee and Krystal arrived and all four of us entered the restaurant. Camila, Lynda, and Bailey trickled in one after the other in the next few minutes. Once everyone arrived, it was time for the party to begin.  
The location of the feast.
We all introduced each other and gave a little brief about who we are and what we do. Then, it was time to decide the meal. We all took a few extra minutes to decide what to order since there were so many great options to choose from. After being indecisive about the type of pasta I wanted, I decided to create my own pasta. Since most of us were craving pizza, we ordered cheese pizza as a side dish. 

While the food took its dear time to arrive, we cordially lamented about the constant testing most of us had to do in this past month in the form of the SBAC, AP tests, and the SAT. We all shared the excitement to attend Brown and participate in the Women and Leadership summer program, considered the best program offered by ILC. Since I attended Brown last summer, I babbled with elation about packing tips, Brown's campus, my dorm, the dining halls, and things to do in Providence. Soon the dinner arrived and we all began to enjoy our meals. 
My "Create Your Own Pasta" made of spaghetti, roasted garlic cream sauce, roasted peppers, roasted tomatoes, and roasted mushrooms. Yum, yum, yum!
We do this as a ritual before every meal.
The pizza was absolutely delicious. The bliss was in its simplicity. My pasta was rich and flavorful as well. I enjoyed my meal thoroughly. 

Soon it was desert time. I debated between a tiramisu and a homemade chocolate cake. Since Krystal ordered a tiramisu, she offered to share. So, I ended up ordering the chocolate cake. When I tried the tiramisu I had a small feeling of regret, but the chocolate cake quickly made me forget the regret. We all shared our deserts and it was a small, yet sweet way to bond with everyone. 
Whip cream, chocolate cake, and hot melted chocolate. Oh my gosh. More bliss.
After desert, we took a few group pictures and soon headed out of the restaurant. 
We had to take a group picture. (From left to right: Camila, Krystal, Lynda, Bailey, me, Aimee, and Ms. Whitlock.)
I can't wait to spend my summer attending Women and Leadership with this wonderful women!
Of course we couldn't leave without a selfie.
Ms. Whitlock and I waited for everyone to leave and then we left as well. On the way home, Ms. Whitlock and I talked about the success of the meet and greet. We both agreed that the meet and greet turned out great. 

We also discussed my plans for the summer, my senior year, and the colleges I am considering to apply to in the fall. Ms. Whitlock advised me about the difference between community service and service learning. She recommended me to record and submit my hours for both community service and service learning before my senior year so I won't have to worry about them while I am in amidst of doing a bazillion things related to graduating and going to college. Before I knew it, I was home after a lovely evening. 

Today's meet and greet was amazing! Time was spent well. It was great chatting with the whole cohort about Brown, agreeing how stressful the past year has been, and sharing the excitement for the summer. Everyone is very nice and I am sure we will make an awesome cohort. I am so excited for the upcoming events! 

Meet, Greet, and Eat

Last week I received a very exciting email about meeting up with our chaperone and our Women & Leadership Brown cohort. For this event I was definitely more excited than anything else. Last week it felt like it was so far away, of course like everything else in life, it came much sooner than expected.

After a very long night and long hot day a nice dinner with new people was exactly what I needed. I walked into the Macaroni Grill greeted by all the members of my cohort and our chaperone, Joanne Whitlock. I took a seat at the head of the table, the first open seat I saw, and soon enough we began with our introductions. We then began looking at the various choices on the dinner menu. I decided on the Penne Rustica. We also ordered a cheese pizza for the table.

We began discussing the trip as we waited for our food. For the most part,  the group had a majority of their questions answered by Don at the tutorial. But thanks to Komal, we got to hear a student take on things. Komal participated in the Ivy League Connection last year so we asked her some questions about dorms, food, laundry, classes, and other topics. I think I can speak for us all when I say her input was very helpful.

My Delicious Penne Rustica
Our orders came out fairly quickly and I was very hungry, as I didn't eat much during the day so I had a lots of room for my dinner tonight. It was definitely well worth the wait, my penne rustica was great. I could also tell that we all loved the slice of cheese pizza each of us got. We discussed our trip some more while we ate. I think there's one thing everybody learned about me tonight, I love to eat, and never leave the table without clearing my plate. I finished my my pasta and was the only one who didn't get to leave with a to go plate.

Next we took a look at the dessert menus and all decided on a variety of sweets. I decided to keep it simple and get a vanilla gelato, I couldn't turn down a cold dessert on this very hot day. Soon enough our desserts came and everybody shared their desserts across and table and were happy with what they ordered. We then brought the dinner to an end, took a couple more pictures, and said our goodbyes. Everything's getting much more fast paced and with every step I get more excited for our trip to start. I had so much fun tonight it seemed like the dinner was much shorter than it was. I really look forward to everything else to come.

'16 ILC Women & Leadership at Brown Cohort

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Meeting Over Macaroni

Today wasn't like any other Tuesday, it was more like a Super Tuesday, minus the elections. Today I had the opportunity to meet the amazing cohort I'll be spending my summer with at Brown.

I was dropped off at Macaroni Grill, since no one was outside I decided to walk in. I was very confused as where to go, but once I saw Komal smiling and waiving at me, I knew that I was in the right place. I introduced myself to my chaperone, and with a big smile she introduced herself back, Joanne Whitlock. Once all the girls arrived, we immediately looked at the menu, there was a wide variety of options. While looking at the menu we talked about several topics and I just felt like I had known the people in my cohort forever. The menu had so many options, it was so hard to choose one. I decided to get the Buffalo Chicken Parmesan, possibly the best choice ever because it reminded me of one of my favorite food, chicken wings. 
This picture does no justice to how great it was.
Our Chaperone, Joanne, asked us if we had any questions, and although most of my questions had been answered by Don at the tutorial, I still had many more to ask.  Joanne had never been to Brown so Komal was able to answer most of the questions since she had been there last summer. Her responses really were clear and they answered all my questions, it made me feel more prepared for this trip. 

My Vanilla Gelato.
Then came time for dessert, they all sounded so delicious. For the most part, we all decided to get different desserts and share so we could have a little bit of everything. I went for the Vanilla Gelato and it was great for the weather today.
The whole group after eating dinner.

As the dinner came to an end, we all said goodbye, but we couldn't leave until we took a selfie. As we parted ways, I came into realization that I was very fortunate to be able to get such wonderful girls in my cohort. Everything is just starting to feel so real and as the day gets closer to depart, the more excited I get.
From left to right: Komal, Lynda (me), Bailey, Krystal, Aimee, and Camila

Feasting in Italian Style

Today's Tuesday was a little different than any other Tuesday and I mean it in a good way. The sun was out and shinning beautifully up in the sky. Finally I could say that we are starting to see some light after those harsh cloudy AP testing days last week, but it is a new week and a fresh start.
Italian food was our choice of today.

The norm of today was waking up and going to school, nothing special until 5 PM. It has became so real now and things are moving fast with the program. I arrived 10 minutes before 5 at Macaroni Grill and yes, my paranoia kicked in once again.

When I first arrived there I was questioning whether I should walk in or wait for everyone until I spotted Komal. She was standing next to a lady which I assume was our chaperone and indeed it was, so I walked myself towards them. I greeted them and it was my first time meeting our chaperone for the trip, Joanne Whitlock, a AP US History and US History teacher at Hercules High School. Then we decided to wait inside and there was Aimee at the door, so we went in and sat down at the table.
Fancy, right?

It was only a matter of a few minutes and we were all there; Joanne, Komal, Aimee, Bailey, Camila, Lynda, and me. We then introduced ourselves, even though some of us already knew each other.

Being a first timer at Macaroni Grill, I came to learn that many of the other girls were also there for their very first time as well which was very exciting. We were served bread and water, cold water inside a pretty glass bottle. As for the bread we had to cut it into bread sticks. For a couple of minutes we browsed up and down the menu.  There was so much to chose from, it was so difficult to make up my mind of what dish I would be devouring, but finally the Chicken Parmesan  won over the Shrimp Portofino, but it was no big, there is always a next time, right?

As we waited for our dishes, Joanne started off the conversation by asking us if we had any questions, concerns, or anything that we needed to say. All of us began speaking one by one, adding our little piece to the conversation. Komal was answering many of our questions and doubts that we had, it was good speaking to her since she attended Brown last summer. The rest of us do not know much about Brown including Joanne so for many of us it will be our first time exploring the campus in a matter of just one month and having someone that does have a little knowledge gives us a great relief. We also got some tips of what we should  pack for our trip from clothing to supplies, and what weather to expect in the East.

Then dinner was served. Everyone received their delicious plates and of course it was the perfect time for a picture

Parmesan Chicken Pasta.
Pizza for everyone.

 Who could ever go wrong with Italian food? After our great meal we resumed our conversation. We had all came to an agreement that testing is only getting difficult every single year. College was also brought up and we all shared some of our top choices.
Gelato for Lynda.

Then dessert time came along.

Tiramisu for me.

Our dinner then was coming to an end, we shared our last thoughts and said our goodbyes.

This meet up dinner with our Women and Leadership cohort was very nice, I got to know a bit more about the girls from their experience and expectations of this program We shared things in common and had very similar questions, and last but not least it was lovely meeting Joanne, she is very kind and funny. Now I know for sure that we are going to have a very great time out in Rhode Island and we are going to eat good.

We couldn't forget the group picture. '16 Women & Leadership Cohort.

Sunny with a Chance of Pasta

I went through two milestone events for me today. In school, I had my first Link Crew meeting, in which we did numerous activities to train and to step out comfort zones for the set of freshmen we will be guiding next year. After school, I went to the Meet and Greet for the Brown cohorts and chaperone at Romano's Macaroni Grill in El Cerrito Plaza.

Romano's Macaroni Grill at El Cerrito Plaza

When I arrived there, I couldn't spot anyone else so I waited in front of the restaurant for a while. The weather decided to be super hot, so it wasn't the most comfortable wait ever. Eventually, I saw and met Joanne, our chaperone, and Krystal and Komal. We finally entered Macaroni Grill and sat at our table. The restaurant was dimly lit with fancy decorations. I've passed by this restaurant many times before, but this was my first time there, as with most of the cohorts. When Bailey, Camila and Lynda arrived, we all introduced ourselves. I felt very welcome and comfortable talking to everyone even though we just met. I appreciate how we all share the enthusiasm of traveling and experiencing this program together since we all mentioned how we've heard how life-changing it is. It makes me even more excited and eager to go to Brown now.

The fanciest cheese pizza I've eaten

The food menu had so many choices in it that we just couldn't decide right away what to order. There was pasta, pizza, carne, seafood and more options as well. I finally decided to get the Penne Rustica, which has shrimp, chicken prosciutto and parmesan with a creamy sauce. While we waited for our dishes, we discussed matters such as how we feel about the program, past experiences and our academics. I got to see more into everyone's personalities and interests, which was very interesting. I feel like I made a lot of new friends today.

Penne Rustica

Soon, the food was ready and was set down on our tables. My dish was delicious but I couldn't finish it all since I ate a slice of cheese pizza before eating my Penne Rustica and I also ate some ice cream at home. Everyone else also seemed very into the food also and we continued to talk to each other to get to know everyone a little more and to discuss what we're expecting for Brown, such as the dorm life, the Women and Leadership course and meet-up times. Based on what Komal was saying about the dorms, I'm really hoping we get the new dorms because it's more spacious and has more outlets.

Lemon Passion
Just when I thought I couldn't eat anymore food, we got dessert. I got the Lemon Passion, a citrus cake with whipped cream and lemon. Everyone's dessert was so sweet it started to make me feel sick from looking at it. Nevertheless, they were very tasty and it was so fun getting to try new food and meet new people all in the same day.

Today was quite tiring and hot as well but I had a splendid time interacting with the Brown cohorts and chaperone, Joanne Whitlock. Of course, we took many group photos together to capture our first meeting together!

Joanne, Me, Camila, Krystal, Lynda and Bailey very full after eating some Italian food
Photo taken by Komal