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

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