Monday, July 18, 2016


Where do I even begin? How do I possibly convey everything I’ve felt because of this experience? I’ll try my best to fill you in, bear with me.

It was my last chance to apply to Ivy League Connection this year. After delving deeper into the politics of social justice and coming to grasp their importance a little more, I was compelled to apply to the Women and Leadership course at Brown and the Social Justice course at the University of Pennsylvania. 

The process was slow, and understandably so. I submitted my essays for the Ivy League Connection program and the Brown scholarship before waiting a few weeks. I was called for an interview session that lasted about three hours, and then I was told of my acceptance.

I was ecstatic. Never in my life had I considered spending part of my summer at an Ivy League school to learn about something I was truly interested in. The fact that I was receiving a scholarship that covered all the necessary expenses was even more amazing to me. 

There was a period of time in which I had to set my thoughts aside and focus on the demands of junior year. Things on the side of Ivy League Connection were quiet, up until the spring. Suddenly, I
was flooded with emails from Don Gosney and my chaperone, Ms. Cruzat. Dinners were being coordinated to strengthen connections within cohorts and to learn from previous members of the program. Tutorials and orientations were held to inform the students and parents of particular procedures and logistics. I even gave a speech on live television at WCCUSD's Board of Education Meeting.

This was only the start for us.
My excitement and zeal steadily grew. As I finished up the last batch of standardized testing, class projects, and tests, I found myself able to daydream a little more of what my time on the East Coast was going to be like. I'd only been to the other side of the country once before for an eighth grade field trip, and I had never visited Massachusetts or Rhode Island.

My departure from the Bay Area to the East Coast didn’t really sink in until the first morning in Boston. The thing I had awaited for months had finally taken off, and I was surrounded by a wonderful group of people who were just as excited as I was. 

Traveling to new places has always been an invigorating experience for me: it not only liberates aspects of my personality that may have been neglected, but also serves as a learning experience. Sightseeing in Boston with great company was like a wonderful little adventure, and touring Wellesley felt like a giant door to a whole new world of possibilities had been opened.
A door was opened at Wellesley's admissions office.
None of it could really compare with those two weeks at Brown, though.

Describing how utterly enraptured I was by the people and subjects I was around is nearly impossible. There I was with at least fifteen other people so incredibly motivated to do something about the depravity around them, so expansive and progressive in their views, so easy to talk to and befriend, so supportive and respectful. That was only my classmates, too. My instructor, my TA, the guest speakers, and the leaders at Brown were equally, if not more, amazing than my peers. I felt like I had been skirted away to a little bubble of paradise.
From the first day of class...
... To our final moments together.
Oh, and the freedom was wonderful. The adults were around to keep us orderly, sure, but every other second was spent with people around my age. I was able to do what I wanted (within reason) when I wanted (again, within reason), with people I wanted to be around. I didn't feel stifled by other's expectations of me, I only felt free to delve in the intellectual matter I loved with an incredible group of friends.

Before Brown, before Ivy League Connection, college was something I wanted, albeit something I was scared of. Don't get me wrong, it's still intimidating, but I've gotten to the point where I'd like to skip the drudgery left in the last year of high school and jet straight to college. I feel more confident and determined to acquire what I need in order to be happy.

I also think, above all, I've acquired more of a grasp on what does make me happy: where I want to go, what I want to do, and who I want to be. Now, more than ever, I know I want to become the best version of myself I possibly can be in order to lead others to do the same. I want to give the world what I have to give, and I want to make it a better place. I want to go wherever encourages and supports me the most in my endeavors, and I want to go wherever there are people who feel the same way. 

That is what this program has done for me, and I hope it will do the same for others.
As this journey ends, others are only just beginning.

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