Monday, December 17, 2012

Brandon Amargo

Dear Ivy League Connection Community,
As I enter my final semester at U.C. Berkeley, I can only think about graduation day in May. Cal has taught me so many lessons inside and outside of the lecture hall. The rigorous courses and diverse student body has equipped me to enter the workforce with awareness to the importance of valuing everything everyone has to offer. I plan on continuing my work at Cal, but as a full time employee post-graduation. In addition, I plan on volunteering or working at Equality California, a non-profit in San Francisco.
This past semester, I completed three upper division Political Science courses: History of Ancient Thought, Japanese Politics and Latinos in the U.S. Political System. Next semester, I will complete my last set of upper-division courses in Political Science: Modern Arabic Political Thought, International Political Economy and Public Organization & Administration. These upper-division courses have student enrollments from 60 to 120 students. In contrast, lower-division courses can reach an enrollment of as much as 300 students. Furthermore, the section size in upper-division courses is reduced to about 20 students creating an intimate setting for fruitful conversation on course material. The course structure varies incredibly. Some courses are strictly composed of lengthy take-home essays. Others include pop quizzes, in-class midterms/finals and small online assignments.
My advice to current ILC members is to picture yourself at the universities your interested in. Being comfortable and having a sense of belonging is crucial to your academic success. For example, it is extremely difficult to escape the uniqueness of Cal and if you don’t embrace “Bezerkeley” for what it is, you’ll have a hard time studying here. The fact of the matter is Cal isn’t for everyone and the same goes for most schools. It is only due to my passion for Cal that I am able to succeed here. I hope that you all find your passion.
Go Bears!
Brandon Amargo
U.C. Berkeley | 2013
B.A. Political Science
Assistant, Vice Chancellor for Research Office

Megan Robb

Dear Mr. Ramsey and ILC,

This past semester I took classes in Organic Chemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology, People, Culture, and Society Sociology/Anthropology, and Ethnic Literature. Organic Chemistry was extremely difficult and fast paced. It was my most challenging course and I am very glad that it is over. My Biology course was focusing more in depth on the cellular mechanisms and the specifics on how the cell functions. My Intro to Sociology/Anthropology was very interesting. We had many discussions about culture in America both in the past and present. The Ethnic Literature course was my favorite class this semester. We read and discussed a wide range of literature. Some of my favorites were Maus I and II, Crescent, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, and Twilight: Los Angeles 1992. The books that we read in the course looked at Black, Asian, Middle Eastern, White, and Asian culture within America.

At Denison University there are a lot of people from the east and west coasts.  Denison has been referred to as an east coast school in the Midwest. In other words, students are very well off and overall preppy. This was a sort of culture shock for me but I have grown to love Denison.


Denison, and college in general, is different from high school in regard to the importance of time management. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of having good time management skills. This past semester I was very involved in my sorority, on-campus job, and volunteering, therefore I had to be extremely focused and literally had no time for procrastination.

As an individual, I have become more independent, responsible, and focused. This past semester I decided that I wanted to get a Soc/Anth minor instead of a Chemistry minor. I made the change once I realized that I was not pursuing the Chemistry minor for the right reasons and that I should focus on something that I am passionate about. I have also become better at time management and the very delicate balance between the academic and social aspects of college.

Thank you,

Megan Robb
Denison University ‘15

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Stephanie Ny

Good evening everyone,
I’m now done with a third of my junior year at Northwestern. Unlike many juniors in college, I am still undecided about my major. I have pretty much decided on sociology, though, in case anybody who has read my previous testimonials wants to know! Since an early age, I have been interested in the way in which society functions to advantage some and disadvantage others. It was not until college, however, that my interest really developed, and now I am satisfied that I will (probably) major in something by which I am genuinely moved.
My college works on the quarter system. Generally, we have nine or ten weeks of classes, a dead/reading week, and finals week. That being said, classes move rather quickly. At times I find myself having a midterm at least once a week until the end of the quarter. At the same time, it basically guarantees that I stayed on top of my studies at all times. Because of this, I also feel like I’ve learned more by using the quarter system than I would have learned if I’d gone to a semester-based school. (There’s no real telling, though, since I have no experience with these schools).
In light of recent tragic events that are not unique to Northwestern, I must really, really advise all of you that if you are struggling in any way—emotionally or academically—to not be afraid to ask for help. Don’t think that you’re alone in your struggle, or that you’re a burden to your peers or to those whose services are open to you. College is a stressful place (high school is, too!) and can take a toll on you in ways that can make you feel isolated. But do try to keep in mind that people do care and will help you. Ask, and help will come to you.
Sadly, I will cut this testimonial short as I have been under the weather as of late. I do apologize if it wasn’t as thorough as expected.
As always, feel free to e-mail me any questions you have about Northwestern or college in general, and happy holidays!
Stephanie Ny
Northwestern 2014

Michelle Saechao

Dear Ivy League Connection Community,

My second year at UCLA has been so rewarding thus far. I began this year with so much more confidence and so much motivation to improve myself. Last year I secured a position working at the College Library Instructional Computing Commons, or CLICC, where I've had the opportunity to meet new people, make connections with important library officials, earn money and study a lot. I feel so blessed to have a job that not only pays well but allows me to study when it's not so busy. I hear stories from people about their other jobs around campus and I have to say that my job is one of the best around and I just received an email yesterday that I've been promoted!

On top of working all quarter, I also received the Secretary position for UNICEF at UCLA. It's been truly rewarding volunteering my time to raise money for one of the best humanitarian organizations in UNICEF, playing with and teaching children who live in an alternative transitional homeless shelter and organizing awareness events around campus.

I've also secured an internship for next quarter at Viacom Media Networks/MTV Networks International in Santa Monica working in the media library. Although I have no particular interest in the entertainment industry, I also have no idea what I want to do in the future. Hopefully this will serve as a great experience for me to see what different kinds of careers are out there and if I can see myself working them.

Double-majoring in International Development Studies and Economics allows me to take a wide-range of classes. This past quarter I took Spanish, Gender Studies and Microeconomics. Although Spanish language courses are technically taught by TAs, my TA this quarter was an older native Quechuan women from Ecuador who is incredibly educated and lectures all over the Americas. She was an incredible teacher to have because she was so dedicated to student learning. Although I am an Economics major, the subject material is generally more difficult for me to grasp, so I didn't do so well this quarter in my Microeconomics course. Instead of having midterms like other courses, my professor had three quizzes and a final. Calling it a 'quiz' instead of an exam didn't help my study habits and so I passed the course with a C. I know to take each bit of work more seriously in the future because although the material may be difficult, I am completely capable of working harder to receive a better grade. Lastly, my Gender Studies course served as a nice break from all the graphs in economics. While I didn't enjoy lecture very much, I did feel very enthusiastic about my section discussion sessions because we got to really engage with our peers about the readings for each week. Nonetheless, I'm grateful for all I've learned this quarter, but I'm also grateful for being done!
Words of advice:
1. Get involved, but stay organized! It's important to remember that everything deserves your time and if you neglect one thing for another, you're not being fair.
2. Enjoy people! They will keep you sane. I can't say how many times weird remarks from my roommates or freestyles from my friends have lifted my mood and given me energy to keep on working!
3. Don't wait for midterms or finals to study! Use all the time you have to continually learn and review material. It's a drag, but it helps.
4. Look into campus resources like free printing, writing help or tutors. Your tuition dollars go toward these programs, so let them help you!
Hope this has been helpful for all of you! Have a very Happy Holiday Season!
Go Bruins!
Michelle Saechao
UCLA Class of 2014
2010 ILC Alumna

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Gabriel Augusto Jomdos Sanchez

My name is Gabriel Sanchez, a rising third year at UCLA. In 2009, I joined the ILC and attended Columbia University.
Overall, my second year was a time of immense change and growth - a feeling I know I will continue to experience until I graduate from this institution. The best piece of advice I can share with all of you is to always push yourself out of your comfort zone, and to constantly challenge yourself in every way possible. I've used this quote so many times in these emails I write to the ILC, but I can't help to share this again; a great friend of mine at UCLA once told me, "You grow the most when you are in uncomfortable positions." If you're afraid to join an organization or club, join it. If you're afraid of taking a class because it's too hard, take it. If you're afraid to make new friends, talk to as many people as you can. Constantly challenge yourself - because when you are comfortable, you are complacent.
As I mentioned in the email I wrote in the Winter, this past year, I served as Parent Investment Coordinator and an Academic Peer Advisor for a Pilipin@ college access project, Samahang Pilipino Advancing Community Empowerment (SPACE). As both an administrator and staff member of the project, I literally had an obligation to do every single day, including going to Belmont High School every Thursday to work with the students. As a result, I learned how to manage my time more efficiently. Using a planner and writing all my responsibilities became a weekly routine for me. Part of becoming a strong leader is learning how to balance multiple responsibilities, and from my experience in SPACE, I feel that I have refined this essential skill.
Also, I encourage each and every single one of you to constantly reflect on what you want out of your college experience, and to reflect on what you want to do in the future. Never let anybody else make those decisions for you. Just recently, I changed my major from Political Science to Asian American Studies. In Winter Quarter, I began to reflect on what I wanted out of my college experience and my future aspirations, and felt that Political Science was no longer helping me to achieve my goals. As I've stated earlier, I now hold aspirations to become a professor in Asian American Studies and engage in the process of research to improve the Pilipin@ community; the classes offered in the Political Science department, however, were insensitive to the experiences of Pilipin@s, and Asian Americans, in this country. Therefore, I chose to switch to Asian American Studies in order to immerse myself in a relevant education that not only helps me to better understand myself, but to direct me toward my dreams.
In the Fall, I plan on applying for independent research cohorts such as the McNair Fellows and Mellon Mays - research programs that aim to increase representation of students of color into PhD programs. In preparation, I have networked with a number of Pilipin@ professors and graduate students in the LA area to mentor me in the process, as well as working to join research projects. In addition, I was also elected to serve as Access Coordinator for Samahang Pilipino, the official voice of the Pilipin@ community on the UCLA campus. My vision in this role is to help others better understand the issues Pilipin@ students encounter in entering institutions of higher education. As Access Coordinator, part of my role is to supervise the project SPACE and represent the Pilipin@ community the Student Initiated Access Committee (SIAC) - the official committee that represents all access issues for all 26,000 and more undergraduate students on campus. For the summer, I am a current intern for the Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas of the Los Angeles County's Second District. As an intern under the Education Deputy, I assist in the work he does, staffing special education events and undertaking specific research projects.
I hope this email has provided a brief glimpse of my college experience and the advice my mentors, predecessors and role models have shared with me. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to email me. Good luck on all your college endeavors!
Yours truly,

Lucina Parada

Dear Mr. Ramsey and fellow ILC Members,
My name is Lucina Parada and I am currently a senior at UC Berkeley. Four years ago, I was fortunate enough to experience three wonderful and rigorous weeks at Cornell University for the Freedom and Justice Program. Fast forward to the present and I find myself facing the start of my senior year of college in three weeks.

Adriana Ramirez

To the ILC students who may not know me,
My name is Adriana Ramirez, and I participated in the Ivy League Connection my Junior-Senior year, I attended the Brown program summer of 2008. I am now going to be a senior at UCLA and I have a full schedule for my senior year. The Ivy League Connection has opened many opportunities within my college career,not only did it prepare me by experiencing the college life at Brown but it also allowed me to come out of my shell. The experience at Brown was one of the things that encouraged me to do travel study in Puerto Rico this past month of July.

My career at UCLA so far has been very successful next year I will have an internship with JusticeCorps a branch of AmeriCorps, I am working at Payment Solutions & Compliance (Cashier's office) where I am a cashier, and I process scholarships and EFM checks, I will be finishing my psychology degree by the end of next quarter and doubling with Political Science. I'm really excited to start the new year although it will be very busy with a job, internship and 3 classes. Regardless of how full my plate may be I know that it will be worth it, UCLA is preparing me for the "grown up" life and I'm ready for it.

For incoming freshman, everything in college may seem overwhelming, but take a second to breath, and you'll realize that nothing is impossible. Take advantages of the many opportunities your school has to offer, mentorships, fellowships, scholarships, internships and work study because sometimes these are the things that prepare you for the work force and make you look good to those looking to hire you once you graduate. Grades aren't everything, what matters the most is how well rounded you are, so if your grades aren't the same as when in high school, make sure to make it up with other things that define you.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Justine Betschart

Hello ILC!

My name is Justine Betschart, and I am a rising junior at UCLA. I have written a few emails regarding my experience at UCLA, so I hope I don't sound too repetitive! During my first 2 years, I lived on-campus in residential dorms. This experience was invaluable. In the dorms, I met some of my best friends and gained a lot of independence. If I can recommend anything to young ILC students, it is to experience dorming!

As for student life, UCLA's campus is filled with thousands of determined, sociable people. It's a wonderful balance that I feel I have also achieved by prioritizing my academics and social life. Of course you are at school to obtain a valuable degree and obtain important networking skills, but without essential social skills, you can't get too far post-graduation. So make sure you strike a healthy balance between your academics and social life.

Lastly, academics. During my first year, I changed my major from Environmental Science to Chemical Engineering. My workload is at times unbearable, but I knew what I was getting into when I submitted my change of major paperwork. My classes have exposed me to real-life engineering problems that I may experience in the workfield. I am 100% sure that I will be fully prepared for industry jobs in two years, thanks to the thorough, applicable teaching style of UCLA Engineering.

I hope my testimony has given you all a little insight into the life of a Bruin. I have absolutely no regrets with my decision to attend UCLA. The past two years have been the best years of my life, and I completely expect my last 2 years to be even greater. If anyone has questions regarding UCLA, engineering or anything at all, feel free to email me at

Best regards from a Brownie, Guadalupe Morales

Dear ILC members,

Now nearing the end of a great and relaxing summer, I can still say that my memories and experiences of my first year in college are still as vivid as if they happened yesterday. They've filed away as chapter one of my college experience, and the best part is: I still have three more to go.

From the day I arrived on campus to the day I left, Brown has been great to me. There are moments every now and then that I stop and stand in awe of how grateful I am to be going to Brown University. No, it's not so much the prestige or the ranking that I love Brown so dearly for; it has never really been like that. It is that Brown really does encourage its students to learn and grow. I've always been that person to try many different things growing up: swimming, badminton, volunteering, knitting, taekwondo, filming, cooking, etc. Brown is the place to continue that curiosity. And that is what makes Brown the way it is.

I could go on and on about how great it is (because it is, there's no doubt about it) but for the incoming college students (and the ones to be) it is inevitable for college students to hit low points in the year. That is what I want to share with you.

One of my mistakes last year was not managing my time correctly. That is probably going to be the biggest red flag of most college students' mistakes. Time management is anything and everything about college. Let me repeat: Manage. Your. Time. Drill that into your head, folks. Everyone will probably warn you about it (like I am now), but most of us make that mistake anyway, and that's okay. I was involved with both taekwondo and a dance troupe (both of which require a bit more time than a regular club) among other things (including a job) and it became difficult for me to try and make all of that fit into 24 hours of the day when you also have to study for classes. I was ready to quit certain things. Fortunately, I stuck it through. I made a mental list this summer of what I needed to do last year that I will do for this upcoming semester. So from experience, these are some of my tips for time management.

#1: Do not join 147,182,341 clubs your first year. Especially being so new at attending school differently than high school, I regret not taking it slowly so it does not become overwhelming.

Plan out your day (or even the whole week) in your head. Know what you have to get done now, later and what you can possibly get ahead in. It's easier to get things done when you make everything a task. Agendas come handy for this! Or, if you're like me, you can use your calendar on Gmail to organize your day. It's kind of fun, too.

#3: Ask or observe your peers on their study habits. One of my fellow peers had almost all A's for his first year. It was very impressive. It was intimidating, yes, but realizing what his study habits were (and having two parents in education as well) made sense to me. He would wake up early on the weekends to study for most of the day, which brings me to...
#4: Study on the weekends. Yes, it hurts me too. I love to spend my weekends relaxing from lectures but it should definitely become a habit. It becomes a lot easier to do work during the week (and attend your club meetings and dance practices too!) so it's not as stressful. Don't leave off what you can do Saturday or even Friday afternoon until Sunday night. That's the biggest high school habit to break and it definitely took me a while to get into that habit (I still need to as well). Great suggestion for this is to tell yourself to spend a set numbers of hours to study and then get to do something fun.

#5: Get ahead in your work when you can. Normally, for a humanities course, in example, you'll have reading to do before a class. But instead of reading only 50 pages, do the reading for next week's class too (this can be where weekend studying comes in handy). Maybe do readings for two more classes as well. This is really, really useful because sometimes you urgently have to do something else, whatever it may be, and studying ahead of time can save you (it saved me on several occasions). My suggestion: do this a week before spring break. It'll make your week more enjoyable knowing that you did your work for your classes already.

And finally...

#6: Prioritize your classes, above all else. Maybe it'll be hard for some of you to do this, but remember that you're in college to learn. When there are conflicting events, remember that your studying must be the most important, because it's what you're there for. Everything else matters too, but this is of the utmost concern.

I hope this helped for those of you anxiously awaiting the time to pack your bags and leave for college. There are many things that happened my first year that I wish I could go back and erase and try again. I'm sure you will too. However, when you really think about it, how else would you learn? It's not about how well you did in comparison to your peers. There's definitely a lot to learn about each other, but at the end of the day, it's about how well YOU did. Do the best that you can. Challenge yourself. Become a better person.

I learned from my mistakes, and all of my advice comes from my own experience. I'm learning. I'm forming my own identity and who I am and where I come from. I think that's the most beautiful part of the college experience. I stray far from being a perfect college student, but I pride myself most on trying hard and doing the best that I can and not letting a bad grade or a mistake get to me. I hope that you all do the same (my fingers are crossed!)

I wish you all the best and I'm here for anything. I'm sorry if some of you have been messaging me and I haven't replied back yet (I will!).

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Chris Habash

Hello Mr. Ramsey and fellow ILC cohorts,
My name is Chris Habash and I am preparing to enter my second year at UC Berkeley. Even two years after my experience at Cornell in the Hotel Management course, I still hold in my mind the great memories I carved out for myself, the people I met, and the friends I made. As my freshman year in college came to a close a few months ago, I was absolutely overwhelmed that already 25% of my undergraduate career has passed. I would just like to share a few things that I had realized are important to do in my future time in college, and hopefully they will prove to be useful for you, the incoming freshmen as you soon begin your own college experiences.
I admit that during my first two semesters, I dedicated my time almost 24/7 to my classes and to my grades. If there was any opportunity for me to do something outside of studying, like join a club or even go to an introductory meeting about joining a club, I completely blocked that out of my mind, with the dominating thought: “that would mean wasted time I could have used to study.” There will, hopefully, come a time in your college experience when you realize that grades and classes are not the most important thing in the world, and how detrimental that thought is for your college experience and as a growing person.
I learned that what is also important is making memories and lasting connections with people that you like, because that’s what you will carry with you years after you graduate. I think you start making friends and meeting new people when you make the effort to do something that you like. I guess that’s what being in the ILC also taught me. The change of heart came after realizing that a whole year of college has passed and that I could not think of a memorable moment or experience that I had because I made an effort to. In my mind, I had accomplished my goal of getting really good grades, but a few months later, I wasn’t as happy as I imagined I would be. I could have joined a club I was thinking about and made new friends.
Don't get me wrong, I wholeheartedly encourage you to challenge yourselves by taking a rigorous course load and exercising your mind in the process, while at the same time opening up to new experiences. However, I believe that if you don’t engage in something that you like or want to do for the fear of wasting your time, or failing at it, then you have already failed. Your time in college and onward will go faster than you think, whether because of work or personal circumstances, that you owe it to yourself to explore your interests.
As a final word, take a breather before you enter college. It can be overwhelming, but always try your best, and always put things in perspective. Putting things in perspective is such an important lesson that I learned. When something went wrong, my method was to think of being in a worse situation, something silly like being on the Titanic as it sank or losing an arm; something that would remind me that things aren’t that bad. That worked, but I also learned that you should not underestimate your own misfortune just because something else seems worse relative to your situation.
Lastly, I want to say congratulations again to the incoming freshmen this fall. I personally know some of my friends (that I made via the ILC, of course), who are entering amazing universities this fall, and always, thank you Mr. Ramsey, Don, Ms. Kronenberg, and the rest of the ILC team. If anyone has any questions about Cal or college in general, don’t hesitate to ask.
Chris Habash
Hercules High School 2011

Monday, July 16, 2012

Tayler Ward

Within a person’s life, there are few events that can make a major impact. These events can change you for the worst, or for the better. My time with the Ivy League Connection has definitely been one of those events. And I can truly say I have grown and changed for the better. From my first orientation at my high school, Middle College High School, where they talked about the value of the Ivy League Connection, I knew it was something I wanted to be apart of. Throughout my high school career, I have heard the testimonies of all the previous ILC alumni who have gone to my school and been through the program. As a freshman I couldn’t wait until my opportunity to join. During my sophomore year the time came when it was finally my chance to apply to this program. When Don came to my school and spoke there were a lot of students who were also there to learn about the program. I had always known that I would have to compete against many students to get in, but I don’t think I ever realized just how competitive it would be until that moment. For not only was I competing against the students at my school, but also with students all over the district. I wrote my essays over winter break and the whole time I couldn’t help but wonder who else was writing their essays. Did they want this opportunity as badly as I did? On the fateful day when I received the email confirming that I had been selected for the interview, I was overjoyed. My hard work had actually paid off. Going to the interview I was a nervous wreck. If they asked me this question what should I say? How should I hold my hands? How often do I smile? My whole interview process was a blur. I felt like it was so quick and as I sat back down in the holding room I was almost sure I hadn’t made it. But when we were all called back into the room for the final verdict, I was thrilled to have heard my name. This opportunity that had seemed so far off before was now just a couple of months away for me. When the time finally came for my cohort and I to embark on this journey, so much anticipation had built up that I was ready to explode. During our first week in Providence, I felt that as a cohort, we were becoming inseparable. We got a chance to tour 4 different colleges during that first week. We spoke to alumni, students, and admission officers about their respective schools. We got an opportunity that many people would die for. And during that time I learned so much about colleges that I hadn’t known before. I learned what I truly wanted and didn’t want in a school. It was a wonderful experience for me. After the first week of growing so close to my cohort and chaperone, Mrs. Kaplan, it was time to head to our final destination at Brown University. At Brown, I met so many people from literally all over the world. They were from all different backgrounds, which made everything very interesting. Dorm life was amazing but taking my Macroeconomics class was even more amazing. Within those three weeks, I learned so much. My instructor was perfect in explaining all of the topics and everyone in my class was genuinely interested in the topic, which made the learning environment so much better. My experience on the East Coast was with out a shadow of doubt one of the best things that has ever happened to me. And I have the ILC to thank for that. This trip has helped me improve myself academically, socially, and personally. Academically, I have learned many different study techniques and the value of study groups. My cohort and I often met up to discuss the day’s topics and homework. These sessions greatly benefited me and helped with learning the course material. This is something I will definitely bring back to school as continue on with my high school career. I also learned my strengths socially. I learned how easily I could make friends. How at any moment I could find some one to eat a meal with or just have a conversation with. The friends I’ve made aren’t just one-time friends, they are life long companions. Personally I have grown so much as a person through this experience. I feel so much more independent. From doing my own laundry, to taking control of my own time management. These are skills that will always benefit me. There were many “Ah ha” moments on this trip for me. One of them was touring Dartmouth and Wesleyan. These two colleges really helped me determined what I want in a university. Before being accepted to the Ivy League Connection I, like so many others, only consider California schools. But now after being shown the other side of the country and what’s out there my eyes are now open to new possibilities. Another event that had a great impact on me was meeting the great people at Summer@Brown who really made my experience brighter. Lastly, the dinner at Mistral made a significant impact on me. Meeting the students and a dean from Dartmouth had to be one of the most amazing events. Dartmouth had already been one of my favorite colleges but having this dinner really sealed the deal for me. I will definitely be applying to Dartmouth when the time comes. I feel so blessed to have had my eyes open to all the possibilities available to me. The ILC has definitely changed me for the better. I only wish everyone had an opportunity to go on this journey like I did. That is why I feel that it is my duty to share with anyone I encounter just how many options we have available to us besides California schools. And how with a little exploration, a whole new world can be opened to you. The bottom line is we all should be open and not limit ourselves. If we get to know our own strengths and weaknesses, the world is our oyster. I am so grateful for everyone who had a hand in allowing me to have this experience. So to Don, Mrs. Kronenberg, Mr. Ramsey, and all of the sponsors who had a hand in the ILC process, thank you. Thank you so much for being apart of one of the most life-changing events in my life. Thank you to Mr. Crosby for being wonderful our first week and to everyone on the East Coast who took the time out to come and speak and inspire us. Thank you to my cohort who made my experience all the more memorable. And thank you to the amazing Mrs. Kaplan who will always have a place in my heart. I am so grateful to have gone through the program and proudly say that I have changed for the better. Tayler Ward

Andrew Woo

Hi Mr. Ramsey, I guess the best way to begin is impart the best piece of advice I can offer after completing my first year at UC Berkeley as an intended Political Science focus. The lesson I have for future freshmen is to boldy enroll courses outside of whatever your core field may be, and not be intimidated in taking them for a grade versus pass/no pass. After this past spring semester, I realized that some of the most profound educational experiences as well as professors I met were outside of my major, such as Environmental Economics and City Planning. In both these courses, the professors, graduate student instructors, and fellow classmates all have great insights that taught me a lot about the specifics of other focused majors outside of my own, and whether or not I should pursue them in the future. In addition to the microeconomics and city planning, I ended up decided to pursue a minor in public policy with the Goldman School of Public Policy after taking Prof. Robert Reich's Public Policy C103 Wealth & Poverty course. This course has certainly changed a lot of my views, and made me develop that interest in public policy as a future avenue to broaden my years as hopefully a graduate student. Through these varying course subjects, I am extremely satisfied with what I have been able to achieve this past year. I am currently enrolled in summer courses here at UC Berkeley which include ECON 100B and Music 26AC. So far, the pace of these six to eight week courses have been unforgiving, with every other day being another lecture on often a completely new subject. There are midterms quickly approaching as well as assignments due at the end of the week, leaving little time for myself to really escape the Berkeley campus since this past May. Despite the busy schedule, I will be candid in saying I make sure to maintain pleasurable exercise without formal faclilities, walking and biking to the campus, swimming in a shared pool, and playing sports on the Memorial Glade. I have been able to enjoy my summer while continuing to advance my educational opportunities. So I hope that the future freshmen enjoy their first years at their universities and future institutions as I look forward to reading their own college stories. -Andrew W

Beulah Agbabiaka

Hey ILC Family, Everybody tells you that college is really fun and that you should go, but they don't tell you so much about the less-than-fun parts so I want to give you a bit of advice on those parts so that you don't go in expecting what I did, a mix of "High School Musical IV-College Fun" and "Stomp the Yard" [Which if you can't imagine b/c you haven't seen either HSM or Stomp the Yard is literally an insane expectation of Columbia University.] My name is Beulah Agbabiaka and I'll be a sophomore at Columbia University in the fall. I'm so grateful to be there and I really appreciate the experience. There are many facets to Columbia and I got to explore a few this year. I'll start by telling you guys about dorm life. Dorm life is going to be what you make it. Fortunately this year, I got to have a single room as per my request because of my instruments and it was the perfect fit for me! My room was featured on Columbia's blog the Bwog but I didn't (and don't LoL) watch "The Princess and the Frog" as much as it says on the article. I got involved in a ton of extra curriculars and one of them was a pilot program geared towards making dorm life fun and I certainly did my best when I was involved in event planning in the events for my Residence Hall, John Jay, like the Halloween Dance, and the Finals Review Study Sessions where Professors came in to various first-year residence hall lounges to teach abridged lectures for finals prep and we (Residence Hall Leadership Organization/RHLO) provided milk and cookies. While the dynamics of my floor weren't always my favorite and I had to learn how to navigate situations like a gross communal bathroom, micro-aggressions from students on my floor, and extreme homesickness (think crying on the phone to your mom to come and get you right now), I did navigate them and so can you. Don't give up! Facet #2 Stresses of Classes: Stresses of classes can be really intense so managing your time is essential. I'm sure you've been well prepared by your WCCUSD education for rigorous academics, but when you've got 30 pages of college level writing (throw your notions of the 5-paragraph-essay as well as your ego out of the window right now) due on Thursday, it's Tuesday night, and roughly 5 pages are done, you've got a sticky situation on your hands. If you plan your time realistically, which means understanding that almost nothing really takes 30 minutes whether that's laundry or an outline for a paper, you'll be fine. It's so important to remember not to overload your schedule since you have nothing to prove to anyone but yourself--you already made it to a great school that's a good fit for you. Stack your deck for success by taking challenging courses but not more than two extremely rigorous courses per semester if you can help it, try to get GE requirements (for us those requirements are the Core) out of the way early on, and remember to have fun and put your health first. Do your best, ask for extensions if it comes down to it, and keep a study first play later attitude and you'll be successful. Facet #3 change in majors or academic interest: Was a very difficult challenge for me, since I had been telling myself I was a Poli-Sci major born and bred since the 8th grade and I just didn't quite mesh with the Poli-Sci program at Columbia. I was positive that I wasn't going to be the student who changes majors in college, and I was right about not changing from my Jazz Studies Concentration but I had to let Poli-Sci go. I had to come to terms with the fact that learning about myself in college meant that I would learn/explore other interests that I had. I am now a proud African-American studies major with a Political Science focus, and I'm still getting the Poli-Sci I came for but now it's more culturally grounded. I had to learn that it's all right to change majors in college for the right reason and that may be something you all learn as well. Facet #4 student body dynamics: This may be the hardest or the easiest challenge to overcome in college depending on the student. I love to talk and I'm pretty friendly, but it's really hard for me to make new friends so this challenge was harder for me. One thing I had to learn was that not everybody is going to want to be your friend or even know how to talk to you since people come from so many different backgrounds, so it's important to find your niche while being open to the whole of the student body. To find my niche I joined pretty much every club they had :-). Not really, but I did join several: the Double Discovery Center (where I tutored youth from local schools), John Jay RHLO, Students Against Mass Incarceration, the Black Student's Organization, the Black History Month Planning Committee, I took part in the Student's of Color Leadership Retreat, I'm a tour guide for the Undergraduate Recruitment Committee, I'm a member of the Multicultural Recruitment Committee, I took an extra poetry class, I was the bassist for two Jazz Bands, and I played bass for a couple of musicals. After all of those extracurriculars I found my place at Columbia and really started to have fun but it definitely took a while. I had a really hard time adjusting to being so far away from my family, but it was a good experience as were a lot of things I encountered at Columbia--hard to deal with, but very fruitful. I wish every body the best on their college journeys! Beulah Agbabiaka Columbia University 2015

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Megan Robb

Dear Charles Ramsey and ILC members, I have recently completed my first year at Denison University. This past year I have learned and experienced so many new things. One of the reasons that I decided to go out of state for college was so that I would become a stronger person. My first semester, I spent a lot of time finding which study spaces and methods worked best for me. I tried a lot of different places like my dorm room, the library, and a few different academic buildings. Once I found a study space that was best for me, studying became a lot less tedious and stressful. Along with finding a space, I was also honing in my studying skills. College turned out to be a lot harder than high school, so I needed to learn which study habits worked best for me. During my second semester I joined Kappa Kappa Gamma. When I first arrived at Denison I had no intention of joining a sorority, but after talking to a few of my friends, I decided to rush in the spring. I am extremely happy that I joined KKG because it allowed me to befriend so many great women that I would have otherwise not have had the opportunity to befriend. I have also been more involved with the school events, which I would have otherwise not participated in. Joining a Greek organization provides you with a family while in college and numerous connections once you are out of college. I also volunteered for Big Brothers Big Sisters. Volunteering gave me the satisfaction that I was making my lunch buddy’s day better. It is also a good idea to make sure that you do something that you enjoy for at least an hour a week. I really enjoy helping others, so this is the one thing that I set time aside for. I plan to continue to volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters in the coming semesters. You have probably heard this a million times, but time management is extremely important. Don’t take on more than you can handle. Take one thing at a time and be patient with yourself. It is not going to be as easy to get the good grades in college that you got in high school. With each semester you become more familiar with your study habits and therefore better able to handle your workload. I have heard from many that freshman year of college is often the hardest, so when the going gets tough, just remember that it will only get easier with each semester. Also never be afraid to talk to your professor. If you get work back that you aren’t happy with and want to know what you can do differently, go talk to your professor. This past semester I took a philosophy class with a professor that I was nervous to meet with, but once I met with him I got the feedback that I needed and I felt more comfortable talking with him. College can be stressful at times, but it is also filled with moments that you will hold on to and cherish for the rest of your lives. Good luck to those of you going off to college! Megan Robb De Anza Class of 2011 Denison Class of 2015

Dennis Shem

Dear ILC Cohorts, I recognize that I am specifically addressing the new cohorts, but I can't help but also acknowledge the rest of the ILC who will also be reading my email. I hope that what I write is worth your time. Nonetheless, to the new cohorts who have no idea who I am: My name's Dennis Shem, and I just wrapped up my Sophomore year at UC Berkeley. I am (finally) a declared Psychology major, on the pre-medical track (which you will find is not a major, but a set of required classes), with the prospect of possibly pursuing a double major in Molecular and Cell Biology. Now that I've introduced myself by what I study, let me tell you that I'm an avid musician, I've been getting into photography, and I have almost 100 stamps at a local boba shop. Why am I telling you this? Because college classes are easy, college life is what's hard. There's more to life than just what you will be studying, or what you're hoping to have a career in. By no means am I downplaying how utterly destructive some classes can be, and many of you will have to figure out how find a way of studying that works for you at college. But that stuff is easy. You've been going to school your whole lives, and you will have shown that you have the skills to make it into a good University. I look back to high school, and despite it's faults, I feel that it DID prepare me well enough to get a foothold on the academics of college. Put in the the time towards your classes and you will be fine. I say this, because this past school year, I had a good system of how to study for my classes. What made sophomore year difficult was life. Be prepared to question everything. What makes college challenging is having to finally answer Life's questions. "Why am I studying this?" "How am I gonna survive after college?" "What am I doing this all for?". While it may be too soon for you to be thinking about it, you will be challenged by these questions and thoughts as you progress your way. Hopefully by the time I graduate, I will be able to have a good answer to those questions myself. Classes are easy, life is hard. Find friends who you can see as being life-long, and make sure to put aside time to invest in them. It's been said that at Berkeley, many students evaluate everything by asking "Is it worth my time?" and "How much time is it gonna take?". I'm imploring you to say 'yes, it is worth my time' to go have dinner with a friend, because friendships are some of the only things that will matter 4 years AFTER college. Also, pursue your interests outside of the classroom. Your interests are what real people care about. You now have the ability to pick what you want to do. I would suggest they be things that fall outside the category of "activities that will help me get a job". To keep from going too long, I'll stop there. As with everyone else, I'm available to talk about admissions, my major, or any other questions about college. Thank you for reading what this slightly jaded college student has to say about figuring yourself out in college. Yours, Dennis Shem

Stephanie Chan

Hello Mr. Ramsey and fellow ILC students, My name is Stephanie Chan and I can finally say that I survived my first year of college! I attend UC Davis as a Managerial Economics major and am very happy with my decision. (Currently, I am in Paris, the city of love, studying abroad for seven weeks!) It feels as if I just moved into my dorm yesterday, and now I have moved out of the dorm already. While time flies, it is important to find a balance between your social life, health, and academics. It is definitely a struggle to balance all three, especially during midterm and finals week, but it will definitely be rewarding in the end. If there was one thing I could re-do, I would have without a doubt, taken advantage of my local community college courses and take as many AP tests as possible. Why? Freshmen that come in with units are granted an earlier pass time, which gives them the advantage to ensure a spot for the classes they need/want. I'm not a science major, but I know for a fact that it is not fun when you can't take the classes you absolutely need. Not only does it give you one step ahead of your peers, but often times, most courses transfer over for General Education(GE) requirements, or simply just add to your needed number of units to graduate. The same goes for AP credits. The best part of it is that you have a good chance of graduating early--- and who wouldn't want to do that? Secondly, I would have taken up a job in high school. During that time, I thought high school was enough already, but the truth is, college is ten times more rigorous and demanding. My parents never pushed me to find a job either because they wanted me to focus on my academics and I partly agree. Personally, I have been looking for jobs on our school's job search engine, and I discovered that some minimum wage jobs require cash handling experience from one to two years. That definitely hindered me from applying to a handful of job openings. If I had taken a job at a coffee shop or the mall, it would have allowed me to be 'eligible' to apply. Nevertheless, I've also made very smart decisions that had great turnouts. 1) I chose to room with random roommates. Yes, it's a hit or a miss. However, rooming with complete strangers allow you to be more open-minded to the different opinions/values of others. It also enables you to learn how to share a common space and be flexible to others preferences. 2) As I mentioned above, I am currently in Paris, France studying abroad. I had the privilege to apply to the same program as my older sister, Stacy, who attends UC Berkeley. We are studying French 1 and 2, and also Paris as Palimpsest which is a history/culture course. In the beginning, I was hesitant whether studying abroad as a first-year is a good idea. I can say that it is probably the most rewarding decision I have made for myself. Not only does it give me a chance to learn about the people and culture of Paris, but also to learn through a different and much smaller setting. While a typical UC lecture hall seats around 300+, my French class has only 18 students, and my Palimpsest class has about 20 students. It's an entirely different scene because the professor has the time and ability to give attention to every student and knows each student by name rather than by their ID number. I've finally adjusted to the differences here after two weeks, and I had my difficulties, yet traveling abroad really opened my mind to new people, ideas, classes, food, architecture, and history. The ILC is all about opening your mind, and this experience certainly does that. I strongly encourage everyone to study abroad if you have the chance to do so, and it is never too early to start. I look forward to studying abroad again in the near future. Warm Regards, Stephanie Chan Hercules High School 2011 UC Davis 2015

Brandon Aaron Amargo

Dear Ivy League Connection, I’ve just finished my first year at Cal and surprisingly am entering my final year. I’ve just finished my first summer course on the American Legal System (Political Science 150) in which we analyzed Supreme Court cases and just started my second summer course on analyzing American Public Problems (Political Science 186). This coming May I will be graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with an emphasis in Political Theory. In addition to school, I have continued working at the Vice Chancellor for Research Office as an Administrative Assistant and recently received a raise after working for six committed months. I truly love the office and have built strong professional relationships with the staff in the office, the Vice Chancellor and Associate/Assistant Vice Chancellors in Research. While completing my studies and working I am no longer living in the dorms and am instead living in a single apartment in beautiful downtown Berkeley (thanks Mom and Dad!) close to Trader Joe’s, campus, Yoga to the People (die-hard Yogi) and Bart for trips to San Francisco. Recapitulating my last email to ILC, I advise everyone to highly consider Cal when applying to universities. Despite budget cuts, it truly is an amazing place that provides an unbelievable amount of services and resources to its students. Remember, you can make a big school small, but you can't make a small school big. Here at Cal, every student finds his or her niche whether it is a club, organization or association. Another myth is about financial aid at Cal. We see in the news rising UC tuition, but just recently Chancellor Birgeneau announced that UC Berkeley would be the first public university to provide its middle class students a financial aid plan. An unknown yet remarkable fact about Cal is that it serves more students on financial aid than all Ivy League schools combined, giving the opportunity of higher education to as many students as possible regardless of their socioeconomic background. To all future Golden Bears congratulations on being accepted, your experience at Cal will certainly be like no other. If you have any questions feel free to email me. Best of luck to the ILC. Go Bears! Brandon Aaron Amargo

Mariana Zavala

Mr. Ramsey and the ILC, I recently finished my first year at New York University, and I can honestly say that without the ILC, I wouldn't be here today. When I first applied to the ILC program, I didn't have a clue where I wanted to go to college or how to get there, but with the ILC's help, I found my place in New York City. The first year of college can have a lot of unexpected challenges. I didn't know what to expect going in: I was attending a school across the country, in a massive city, with over ten thousand undergrads alone. How was I going to find my place, carve my mark into a city with thousands of students looking to do the same thing? NYU is great because a lot of the freshman dorms have themed floors, so you can be sure going in that you and your floormates will have at least one thing in common. I applied for the film floor, and I got in, so I made a lot of friends immediately in the same program as me (Cinema Studies- I'm officially declared as a major!). And I also made fast friends with most of my roommates, one of which I'm rooming with again next year! However, I wasn't entirely lucky in the room department. One of my roommates ended up being very disagreeable, and she eventually moved out of our room. My counselor was incredibly helpful in helping me pick classes for my first semester, finding me classes that fulfilled both my requirements and my interests, and while the first few weeks were awkward and nerve-wracking, I eventually made friends everywhere. If you're going to a big school like me, the best advice I can give is to not be shy, and to involve yourself in as many activities that catch your interest as possible. You make different kinds of friends in different classes, and you can't be shy. For example, one of my best friends now I made in my Elementary German I class. We began talking when our teacher began the class by speaking German and only German, so I leaned over and said, "What the hell is going on?" and he replied with terrified eyes: "I have no idea." So I demanded his phone number, and while our friendship started off just working on homework together and sneaking the use of Google Translate in class together, we soon found out how much we had in common, and he's rooming a couple doors down from me in the fall. It can be really intimidating, the whole "little fish in a pig pond" dynamic, but I promise, if you want to make your mark, it's not impossible. There will still be professors in huge lectures who never even learn your name, but there are small classes at big schools as well, and you just have to put yourself out there. For example, the German department at NYU is very close, so my classmates and I frequented the parties that the department threw, and we made sure to stop in at our professor's office hours every couple weeks, and I can safely say that without becoming closer to my German professor, I wouldn't be nearly as good at the language I am now. The familiarity between us let him know where I struggled and where I excelled, so he made sure to work with me when I needed it. For those who are shy or quiet, a big school is a challenge, because people tend not to reach out to you. You have to be the one in control of your life and your friendships. It's truly a test of independence. And it wasn't without its tests. You honestly never know what can happen, and I actually had two family members pass away while I was in New York City. To be so far away from my family during such tragic times, to not be able to afford an emergency plane ticket home really tested me. But the friends I made proved true, and they supported me while I went through everything. I never thought I could be as independent as I am now. I made a drastic change, but it truly paid off. I am immersed in my film and writing classes, I have close friends already, and I'm looking forward to the fall with eager arms. If anybody is going to a big school or big city and is worried about the change, has a roommate problem and doesn't know how to deal with it, or has any interest in film or writing programs, I am available for advice and conversation. I actually have a blog in which I talk about my college experiences and answer questions that hopefuls have, and it gets a lot of responses, and I've helped a lot of people already, so please email me if you'd like to talk or if you want the link to my blog. Thank you, Mariana Zavala, incoming sophomore at NYU

Stephanie Ny

Good morning ILC students, Some of you may have read my previous e-mails, but for those who are new, my name is Stephanie Ny, and I'm a rising junior at Northwestern University. It pains me to say that my journey at Northwestern is already halfway complete. And with that, I have three pieces of advice that have helped me through my roughest times: Look up your professors before you decide to enroll in their classes. This is something I stressed in a previous e-mail, so I will just quote it here: "Professors absolutely make a difference in the classes you take. Northwestern has a system called CTECs in which students rate and give feedback on the classes they take along with the professors that taught those classes. You can see the reviews for various classes each professor taught. If your school provides such a system or you know of a similar system elsewhere, take full advantage of it. I failed to do this my first quarter at school and the consequences were onerous. While there are classes that may interest you, the professor teaching it may completely destroy that interest if he or she isn’t a good one." This is something I learned in high school, but I didn't take it to heart until I came to Northwestern. You may have a string of sensational teachers and professors on a subject, followed by one bad apple who makes you "hate" the very subject you once found so captivating. Appreciate all the subjects available to you, even if they're not your areas of study and/or interest. You don't have to be a genius at math to appreciate its impact on society. You don't have to be an artist to appreciate the beauty of art. You don't have to be a linguist to appreciate the complexities of the countless existing and dead languages of the world. Entering a class with a bitter attitude towards a subject will not make your experience any better. These classes exist because they have, at one point or another, made a difference to another individual, if not to society. This is something I learned only recently. I entered a summer calculus course with the intention of hating every day until the class ended, but after hearing some of the things my professor had to say about the significance of math -- even though I can't fully understand how some of its concepts are applied -- I began to enjoy the class more. Lastly, it's better to have a few best friends than to have a million acquaintances. Even today I have only four or five individuals in my social circle, and I'm fine with that because I know (or think, anyway) that these are people I'm going to be friends with for years to come. Oh, and another piece of [possibly unrelated] advice: make the best of your time out east, and do not take it for granted. Being a part of the ILC has been truly life-changing for me; I hope you can all say the same. As always, I'm available to answer any questions you all may have about Northwestern! Stephanie Ny

Jennifer Kuang

Hello Mr. Ramsey, It's really great to hear and see how much the ILC has grown. My own brother is now in the program, and I'm sure he's getting a lot out of it. I currently have very limited access to Internet (read: your blog website is blocked in China, where I am currently interning this summer), and it appears that he is too busy to email me back (which I definitely understand), so I have not been able to keep up. I think it's great that he and other students from WCCUSD continue to get the opportunity to experience college life early on, and to get a head-start in the game. SEAD was not as academically rigorous of a program, but I assure you that to this day, I still keep in touch with my mentor and several staff members on a regular basis. They have grown to be such a great support network and I know that they are always there for me, regardless of how much time has passed since we last talked. As for me, much has changed since my freshman/sophomore days. In fact, I am now a rising senior at Stanford. Is this real? I can still remember high school graduation very clearly and how I couldn't wait to get out of there. Since last time, I have studied abroad in China for a quarter, changed my minor from Education to East Asian Studies, quit the rowing team, took on more academic units than was wise, and rounded out junior year mentally and emotionally exhausted and burnt out. Looking back, I think I was a little disillusioned with Stanford. It was a perfect place to me. Now, however, I see that there are quite a few problems with Stanford, some that I have brought onto myself (such as taking 20 academic units in a quarter), and some that come with the culture (the infamous Stanford "Duck Syndrome," for example, which is very real and very difficult to get a grasp of). I do not say these things in order to scare incoming freshmen of going to college. In fact, I may be addressing those who are already in college more so than the incoming class. I'm just saying that throughout the course of college, you may realize things that you might not like, either about yourself and/or your environment. A friend's mother put it really nicely: College will be some of your best years, but it will also be some of your toughest. Everyone says that college is going to be the best four years of your life, but that will not be true for everyone, or at all times. Not feeling that way does not make you weaker or inferior, but it took me a while to understand that, especially in an environment like Stanford. Despite this, I maintain that Stanford is a beautiful place. It has allowed me to, put simply, grow up. And the truest sentiment about college: it goes by fast. I think my experience at Stanford, beginning from my excitement in freshman year to a bit of jadedness in junior year, has been very well-rounded. With this breadth of experience, I am looking forward to what senior year will bring. Next year, I am going to be an RA in a freshman-majority dorm. I can't wait to stand back and foster those who take college by the horns, and to actively guide and encourage those who need a bit more easing in. Everyone does college differently, and that is very important to remember. Good luck to the Class of 2016! Feel free to email me if you have any questions. It'll be good practice for being an RA! Best, Jennifer Kuang

Malcolm Carson

Hello Mr. Ramsey and the ILC, My name is Malcolm Carson and I am currently preparing for my senior year at Columbia University. I was part of the original ILC cohort in the summer of 2006 where I attended Brown University. I continued with the program for the next two summers attending Brown once more and Cornell for my final summer. The rigorous nature of those summer programs did a good job preparing me for college by exposing me to the more intense academic environment that exists at the college level. However it was not able to help me prepare for everything that Columbia has thrown at me over the past three years. I decided to attend Columbia for a number of reasons; one of them being the need to challenge myself and Columbia has definitely not disappointed me in this area. To say that Columbia University has been challenging is definitely an understatement. My freshmen year I walked on to the football team and I played for three years. Having to balance my extremely large time commitment to football with an equally hefty academic schedule of a premed/biophysics major has been one of the most difficult things I have ever done in my life. Although it was a struggle many days to get up early to attend meetings or workouts before heading to class, I wouldn't trade my experience for anything. My collegiate athletic experience taught me the value of hard work and perseverance in addition to teaching me that you don't always start at the top. I had to fight and scratch my way up from a freshman walk-on to eventually receiving some playing time during my junior year. Even though many days I hated the fact that I was giving so much of my life to football when I knew I had to focus on school, I didn?t realize until now how much I needed those few hours a day away from academia. It helped me become a more balanced individual and allowed me to free myself from the regular stresses of school and life in general. I urge all of my fellow ILC students to find their freedom in some activity that they love. Everyone needs some release every now and then; it is absolutely necessary to be successful in school and in one?s eventual professional career. I addition to finding activities to periodically free yourself, I urge you all to be outgoing and attempt to make as many connections with your classmates as you can. As important as the information you are learning in your respective majors is, the greatest part about any school are its students. Reach out to your classmates and surrounding community as a whole. No matter what your GPA is at the time of your graduation, you will have wasted your college experience if you lock yourself away to study and never give yourself the chance to meet new interesting people to fill your lives with. I wish you good luck with your collegiate experiences and I hope you wish me the same with my final year of school and my preparation for the MCAT. Sincerely, Malcolm Carson

Rebecca Phuong

Hi Mr. Ramsey, When I first arrived at Cal, I quickly found myself lost and feeling unprepared. Luckily, going to El Cerrito did help prepare me for the rigor of Cal's semester system. During orientation, I was coaxed into signing up for a class called Cal Leads (Education 98). This class met once a week and we were assigned weekly projects that had us learn about Cal and then come back and report on what we learned. Through this class, I found ways to network and to utilize my resources. Other courses like NuSc 11 (the study of poisons) and Yoga Restoration (nap time) are just a few of the many courses Cal has to offer. Cal also has a program called Democracy at Cal (Decal’s) where students are able to create and teach subjects as diverse as the history of Star Wars or how to solve a Rubik’s Cube. It is because of these types of courses that I now feel more confident and at home here. The great thing about Cal is there are tons of extracurriculars where students can get lost together. Juggling work and school, I decided to sign up for twenty clubs and found myself going to some meetings, forgetting about other meetings, and pinpointing which clubs and which people really mattered to me. With the support of the Cal Alumni Association, I was a recipient of The Achievement Award Program which led me to becoming the Freshmen Class Chair under the Leadership Committee. I ran meetings and organized academic and social events. Additionally, I ended up joining an international co-ed service fraternity called Alpha Phi Omega which intertwines service to the chapter, campus, community and country. During the pledging process, I was a part of the Fellowship Committee where my committee members and I organized and hosted the overnight retreat for 120 members along with the 40 pledges. Unlike other chapters, instead of having one “Big” we have a family system and I am proud to have two co-siblings who I not only adore but who also are willing to help me no matter what. Going into my sophomore year, I intend to continue to work as the Marketing Coordinator for State Farm Insurance (a job which I took to help my family financially after my father's stroke left him unable to work). Additionally, I will be the Big/Little coordinator for the Leadership Committee where incoming students are able to shadow other scholars who are interested in the same field of study. I intend to be a “Big” for Alpha Phi Omega to make sure that the pledge process runs as smoothly as possible. I can now say that when I hear the marching band play on the steps of Sproul Plaza, there is no sound sweeter for a Golden Bear. If there any students who are interested in Cal or need any guidance during their college process I am more than happy to help. Best regards, Rebecca Phuong, Marketing Coordinator University of California, Berkeley Public Health, class of 2015 Phone: (510) 672-4693 E-mail:

Michelle Saechao

Dear all, It feels incredible to have finally finished my first year of college at UCLA. Although it was difficult at times, I thoroughly enjoyed my experience. From attending sports events and free movie sneak peeks, to student organization meetings and studying for endless exams, my first year was nothing short of eventful. And I'm sure Mr. Ramsey can agree with me when I say that the food at UCLA is delicious! All year I was constantly reminded that I am no longer in high school. Although back then I thought I worked so hard to simply be accepted into college, it takes so much more to stay in and succeed at UCLA. However, all of my successes and struggles are what have helped me to become a true Bruin. I thank the ILC for giving me the experiences and support to do well in my courses and to navigate around such a large university. I know that I shouldn't just study to get As in my classes, but I have to make proper connections, search for jobs and internships and maintain relationships with people. Thanks to all the college units I accrued while at Middle College, I currently have 'junior status' when enrolling in classes, which means an earlier registration date and time. Easy translation: I get to register before most classes are full. This is a huge perk, especially when classes and other resources are being cut in the public school system. I recommend anyone who still has a chance to, to take the proper college courses or AP exams to obtain more units before having to pay for tuition at a university and to complete courses that would seem unnecessary or repetitive in college. This summer I am back home working as a Student Office Assistant with Impact Assessment, assigned to the Occupational Health Branch at the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) in Richmond. I've yet to officially start the position, but am incredibly excited to see what's to come this summer. I will start my second year at UCLA with high hopes of doing better in my classes, despite my new job at the CLiCC computer lab in the library and my growing role in UNICEF at UCLA. I also hope to officially declare both my majors, Economics and International Development Studies and begin taking upper division courses. I hope you all have a great summer! Michelle Saechao UCLA Class of 2014 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Irene Rojas Carroll - Part II

In my message to you all after my first semester at Brown, I wrote that I felt as much at home at Brown as one can feel at home in a new place. Now I can truly say that I’ve made a new, real, amazingly supportive home for myself at Brown. I returned from winter break focused on making the most of my time in college because I was shocked by the fact that the first eighth of my college career was already gone. So, I stopped thinking of being in Providence as temporary, planned out more of my future classes and ways to spend breaks between semesters, concentrated more on building interpersonal connections, and joined intentional communities such as the co-ed frat I’m pledging in the fall (Zeta Delta Xi). This philosophy change led to a much happier and more fulfilling semester (not that my first was really unpleasant). I’m spending my summer here researching with the professor who taught my fall Brown v. Board seminar (funded by a Brown undergraduate research award), planning a community service pre-orientation program that I participated in (UCAAP), and preparing a workshop at another pre-orientation program (Third World Transition Program). I think it speaks volumes that less than a year ago I was clueless about what was going on in Providence, and now I’m leading a Gender and Sexuality Activism tour of the area for UCAAP (the pre-orientation program that gave me my first introduction to the social and political landscapes of Brown and Providence). Looking ahead to the fall, I’ll be exploring classes in the Education, Public Policy, History, Urban Studies, and Africana departments for my tentative concentration of Education History and Policy. I’ll continue my commitments as co-Head Chair of the Queer Alliance, a Minority Peer Counselor Friend, and a pledge of Zeta Delta Xi. I’m excited for fall, especially academically. My writing and discussion skills were definitely lacking coming into college. Although I’m in a much better position now especially after taking advantage of the support available to me through Writing Center tutors, class-specific Writing Fellows, and professor attention, I still had to work harder to perform as well as other students who came from better schools before Brown. This points to a lack of rigor in WCCUSD that goes beyond numbers like test scores and percentage of students passing classes. If I was struggling with all the support I have, what does that mean for students who are in systems where that’s harder to seek out? In the past year, I learned that Providence and Brown are communities that are possible to embrace and be a part of. I grew my writing and discussion skills tremendously and learned how to manage large organizations with diverse membership. I feel fully supported and want to extend that to current ILCers; if you have any questions about Brown or what it takes to come here I’d love to talk to you! Happy college matchmaking, Irene Irene Rojas-Carroll Brown University 2015 c: (510) 439-6648

Friday, June 29, 2012

Marisol Clemens - MIT

This past year at MIT has been challenging in more ways than just academically. Being so far from home I have had to deal with family separation as well as all the typical transitions to college life. However, all of it has been worth is because of the amazing experiences I have had here and the wonderful community I have found on the MIT campus. The summer before my freshman year at MIT began I attended a program by the name of Interphase. It is a seven week program that is run out of the MIT Office of Minority Education. During those seven weeks the OME spent a considerable amount of resources preparing myself and 67 other students for the rigors of MIT. I had the opportunity to live on campus, learn my way around and meet MIT faculty and staff before the academic year even started. The experience was invaluable. In fact, I enjoyed my experience so much that I am back this summer working as a Humanities TA for the very same program. I felt so prepared by this program and had so much fun, meeting my closest friends in the process, that I found a way to come back and give the same leg up to this year's incoming freshmen. Looking back on the year, I would not have been nearly as successful had it not been for this program. When I entered the academic year there were many large transitions to be made. It was a huge change going from being the top of the class to being at the same intellectual level as all of the students in my classes. I took pretty much exclusively hard science classes and learned so much from the extremely high caliber professors. I was lucky enough to take 7.013 (everything here at MIT corresponds to a number or an acronym) Introduction to Biology from Tyler Jacks who is on the forefront of all current cancer research. I spent this whole past year gobbling up as much knowledge as I could. I learned so much about what sorts of study habits work and where the tactics I used in high school won't cut it on a college campus. I also learned a lot about myself and how independent I am. I absolutely love living in Boston. Although it is very different than California I have found my place here. Over the year I joined a Sorority that has become my family on campus and played club soccer with girls who inspired me to work harder then I ever have. College is a place to try new things and figure out which of your old activities mean enough to you for you to continue them in college. Looking to my sophomore year I have a job lined up in the admissions department. I never got a chance to really be exposed to MIT before I got in. Here on campus I am going to be working as a Minority Admissions Intern and my responsibility will be giving virtual tours to students who do not have the resources to make a trip to Boston. I am really excited to start inspiring others to find their place here at MIT. This past year has been more then I could have ever anticipated. It flew by with so many wonderful memories. That's not to say that it wasn't challenging. MIT has been my biggest accomplishment and my biggest challenge. I am so happy to be here and I wouldn't trade it for anything. If anyone has any questions about campus or what it takes to get into MIT please let me know. I would love to interact with other potential students. Good luck with beginning your own college experience, Marisol Clemens