Monday, March 30, 2009

Justine Betschart, Hercules Middle/High School

Regarding the Ivy League Connection's necessity in the West Contra Costa Unified School District, I cannot applaud the program enough, having experienced it from an ordinary student's perspective and one of an Ivy League Connection participant.

Unlike many of my peers, the Ivy League Connection entered my academic life as a sophomore. I was asked to attend the University of Pennsylvania with my fellow students, Courtney Mariano and Susan Lee. Honestly, I was in disbelief. I had not felt that my academic background stood out or that I was capable of representing my school, let alone the entire district. Although I was unable to attend UPENN during the summer of 2008, I still benefited from the program. I believe the moment I was asked to participate, my academic work had finally gone noticed, and my confidence as a student had been established. I could only focus on applying the following year, hoping to receive the chance yet again.

Luckily, the time came, along with essays, applications, and interviews. This time I had to work for my position as an Ivy Leaguer, and had I not been asked to do the program the previous year, I would not have felt comfortable applying with my fellow scholars.

To answer the question whether or not ILC is a necessity, I can say, from experience, that it is more than needed in my district. Not only did my spur of the moment invitation provide me with comfort in my academics, but it also stimulated my peers. I quickly let all of my close friends know that opportunities such as the one's provided by the Ivy League Connection were within reach. This led not only myself working hard for my current program, but it allowed my fellow students to strive for something that we all believed was far beyond us.

Overall, this program is beneficial to everyone in the district. With students jetsetting off to the East Coast, our district receives the prestige and recognition that is has lacked over the decades. With the idea of attending an Ivy League school spreading around the district, all students will be given a more obtainable goal. Had I known of this program a few years back, I would have been prepping up until this very moment! In response to students focused on only attending UC's, I can gladly say that this untrue. While the University of California system is a stellar one that we Californians are proud of, the Ivy League Program has provided not only trips of a lifetime, but also college informational meetings presented by prestigious colleges from around the nation. These beneficial presentations allow all to enjoy the gracious help of ILC, rather than just a select few. They let students know that college experiences aren't limited to your town, country, or even state.

Without the help of the Ivy League Connection, I may have settled on attending a school a mere 20 minutes from my hometown. Now, with confidence and exposure, I feel more than comfortable broadening my college horizons and seeking more than the UC in my backyard. Thanks to Mr. Ramsey, Ms.Kronenberg, and the more than generous sponsors, I have benefitted from this program from every perspective possible, and I can't wait to see where my participation in this program can take me.

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