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