Friday, June 3, 2016

A Night of Pride and People

The hour between school and the departure to Town Hall, the night's designated restaurant in San Francisco, was frantic. I was excited to indulge in excellent food with my cohort, the alumni, the new chaperone, and our sponsors, but I was petrified by the thought of looking a mess or, worse, being late.

Luckily, I was on time (and looking presentable) with everyone else, and we were even ahead of schedule. As we awaited the train on the relatively deserted platform, I shyly edged my way into conversations between my cohort members and the Women and Leadership alumni. It requires some time for me to get comfortable, but I'm always happy to get there nonetheless.

I learned quite a bit from my Women and Leadership predecessors: the bakery nestled within walking distance of the campus is an absolute must, and the cupcakes are absolutely worth their price; shopping at the nearby mall is excellent because Rhode Island doesn't tax clothing; the weather is entirely unpredictable (much like the Bay Area), so layers are highly recommended.

In all seriousness, I did get quite a bit of helpful advice on how to navigate the program, and I was told to take every opportunity to enjoy Brown to the fullest. I am more than happy to oblige.

Once we all arrived at our reserved seating area and had introduced ourselves with those at our tables, speeches were made expressing thanks and pride over what Ivy League Connection has become.
Mom and I waiting for everyone to arrive.
Although I had always acknowledged the program as something philanthropic and fortuitous, a feeling of deep awe finally settled over me as I was listening to our speakers. This is something entirely unique to the Bay Area and designed to empower marginalized youth in their pursuit of brighter futures. I hold highly the ideal that many individuals possess the power to change the world, but are often silenced or never realized due to the failure of our institutions. Ivy League Connection provides us with the chance to be heard and recognized.

I dove into conversation with the members of my table with a newly found gusto after we were released to eat. Simon Hong, who graduated from Brown University in 2005, was quite possibly the person I had been anticipating talking to most. I would like to apply to Brown Early Action if I fall in love with the school, and Providence itself, after the two weeks of summer spent in the Leadership Institute. He was excellent in giving me an idea of the overall ambience of the school. It is full of outspoken leaders and activists, and caters towards those who enjoy education for the sake of learning. The pass or fail grade system encourages students to select a subject they may not naturally excel in, because it provides less of a threat to their GPA.

I felt increasingly excited as the night progressed, but not just for Women and Leadership. I was beginning to picture myself at a school I had never even considered in my dreams, and I saw myself happy.

All thanks to Ivy League Connection.
A wonderful post-dinner photo of my cohort and the Brown alumni.

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