Monday, May 29, 2017

The Endless Sightseeing Possibilities

One of the greatest parts of being an ILCer is that we're often lucky enough to get some funding to visit other great schools that most students in the WCCUSD wouldn't even think about. This year the goal for the Vanderbilt cohort is visiting UPenn, and if the funding is enough Columbia as well. Typically, the UPenn cohort would also see Columbia because it's so easy to get to NYC on the train.

Not only do we get to see these campuses though, there are a variety of other things we get to do. Usually, we all get to agree on what we're going to visit while we're back East or in this case as well, in the South.

A little mom and pop kind of place
First and foremost, what I believe is a must-have while in Philadephia is an authentic Philly Cheesesteak, sort of like like getting deep dish pizza in Chicago. One of the top places to get a Philly Cheesesteak from is apparently John's Roast Pork, just 15 minutes away from the University of Pennsylvania campus.

Philadephia also has a Historic District, which I think would be incredible for the cohort to see. I wouldn't consider myself the most nationalist person, but I do have an appreciation for many historic landmarks and history itself.  There are marvelous sites we could see such as the Liberty Bell and the Independence Hall. Both sites are free, the Liberty Bell doesn't require tickets and Independence Hall tickets can be acquired in advance. 
The beautiful and historic Independence Hall

The options in Philadephia seem almost endless, and personally, I love being a tourist. Another spot that seems to be a favorite is the Spruce Street Harbor Park. I can't point out a major thing to do there, as it varies by the month of the year and what events may be going on. Yet, it looks pretty beautiful in pictures so I figure we could find some time to walk through there and take some photographs. It also has some hammock gardens, so if we wanted to take a break throughout the day I think this park would be the place to go!

Spruce Street Harbor Park as it starts getting dark
Now, in the hopes that we can somehow get to see Columbia, this also means we'd possibly spend some time in NYC doing some sightseeing as well! I cannot stress how much I have my fingers crossed for this possibility, although even without it I'd be one happy ILCer. One of the reasons we even do the site visits is because atmosphere matters a lot when deciding on a college and taking in a lot of the little details and places to visit can make a tremendous difference. 

Columbia University has a campus  in Morningside Heights, New York which is in close proximity to the great NYC attractions such as Times Square, Central Park, and the Empire State Building. I think if we got a chance to go there, those sites would be the top priority since they're the essentials for tourists in New York. I won't go into too much detail about those three places, but I'm pretty sure when people think of New York City those names ring a bell. They're mostly for picture taking, walking, and gawking. If there is the time the Metropolitan Museum of Art would also be a place I'd love to see, although it is $20 per adult. 
The busy steps of the Met
I apparently went in reverse order because the sightseeing will be after our time at Vanderbilt, but according to Michelle Berge, one of the lovely people that I had dinner with just 2 weeks ago, Nashville is basically the "It" city right now. There's Centennial Park, which is just across from the Vanderbilt campus. There are many food places that people have recommended, but what I really want to try is the coffee shop where everyone seems to spot a celebrity. I believe it is called the Bongo Java. Not only are there things year round, but there's so much going on during the summer. Since it is also known as the Music City, there will be free concerts to enjoy as well! I know VSA has a number of things planned for us to interact with our peers, but I'm really looking forward to exploring the city with my cohort and chaperone.
The Parthenon in Nashville, look at that architecture!

When in Nashville

I can’t wait to go to Nashville this summer. There’s so much to do there (besides, of course, going to Vanderbilt University.) After looking through some travel sights and speaking to someone who grew up in Nashville, I’ve found a lot of fun things to see. Here are a few of them I would most like to see while there:

First, I would like to visit the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Growing up in El Cerrito, we aren’t ever really exposed to Country music, so going to the Country Music Hall of Fame would be a great chance to learn more about the music, and if there’s someone playing there, well, that just adds to the effect! Nashville is also nicknamed ‘Music City' so I couldn't pass up a chance to explore the music when there.

Second, I would like to visit the full-scale replica of the Parthenon. It would be really interesting to see such a famous landmark, even if it is a replica. I am also half Greek, so it is also of a more personal interest to me to see it. The Parthenon is an awesome sight from the pictures I’ve seen, and being able to see it (without the long flight to Greece, no less) is something I wouldn’t want to miss.
The Parthenon ~ in Nashville
Next is the area around the Parthenon, Centennial Park. I am really looking forward to being able to explore it when we’re in Nashville. There is an artificial lake, volleyball courts, a dog park, and walking trails, not to mention the Parthenon I mentioned before. Centennial Park looks like a great place to walk around in—there’s even free Wi-Fi! I would be less interested in the Wi-Fi though, and more in the sights around me.

After that, I would like to walk around Bicentennial Park (which, now that I think about it, sounds like the upgraded version of Centennial Park.) The full name is Bicentennial Capital Mall State Park, but from what I’ve read it can be shortened to Bicentennial Park. The park holds fountains, plaques, and other features symbolizing Tennessee, like 95 big pillars for 95 districts in the state. I think the park would be a great way to learn about Tennessee in the outdoors.
I don't know who that man is but I'd like to stand where he is.
Close by to Bicentennial Park is the state capital of Tennessee itself. I would like to see the state capitol building because of its importance to the entire state of Tennessee. The building also holds the tomb of President James Polk, making it an even more interesting place to stop.

The Tennessee State Museum is another place I would like to see in Nashville. It holds many artifacts from Tennessee’s history, starting with the Native American peoples. As you can imagine, there are a lot of Civil War artifacts as well. The museum is a nice place to stop to get a more detailed look at Tennessee’s history—you can only learn so much from looking at things online.

Last of all, but certainly not least, I really want to see the Lane Motor Museum. Yes, it’s another museum, but this museum sounds like one it would be awesome to visit. The exhibits are a lot of antique and unique cars from all around the world, and after looking at some of the pictures on their website, I would love to see the cars in person. I’ve always loved going to the SF Auto Show and looking at the cars there, and I think I would have a similarly good time at the Lane Motor Museum. It also only costs $3 for children up to 17 years old.  Ms. Hansen? I hope you're reading this!
An exhibit at the Lane Motor Museum
Well, that's what I have so far. From what I’ve heard, Vanderbilt allows students out on what are called “soft nights" so they can go explore off campus. I’m definitely going to take advantage of those soft nights and go and see some sights!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Oh The Places We'll (Hopefully) Go

As our time in Tennessee approaches, I can't help but think of all the things we'll get to see and places we'll get to visit this summer. Not only will the Vanderbilt cohort be going to Tennessee this summer, but we'll be visiting UPenn too! With so many possible places to see and what seems like so little time until we'll be there, I haven't been able to stop myself from doing some research on possible places we can visit this summer. I'm going to outline a few of these things below, starting with things to do in Nashville and ending with things in Philadelphia.

First, I'd love to visit Centennial Park. It's only about two miles from downtown Nashville and features(get this) a full scale replica of the Parthenon, yes, like the one in Athens. When I first saw a picture of this all I could think was, "How cool! I can see Greece without leaving the country!" As someone who's maybe interested in a career in architecture, this is impossible to pass up. Even if this wasn't the case, my elementary school Percy Jackson-obsessed-self wouldn't forgive me for not acting on the opportunity to visit.

Next, and this recommendation comes from a Vandy alum, I'd like to visit some sort of live music establishment. Nashville is known for its music, and I think I'd be doing myself a disservice if I didn't at least try to check out some live music during our time in Tennessee. Maybe this will mean taking a stroll down Music Row at some point, or finding another venue close to campus, but anything at all would be fun. I call myself a bit of a country music fan, but I think country music in Tennessee will be very different than California country music.
The Country Music Hall of Fame Museum 
Continuing on with the country music trend, I think it would be really fun to visit the Country Music Hall of Fame Museum. My sister and I have a shared love for country music, but, as I mentioned earlier, the country music scene just isn't as big here as in Tennessee. So, if I have the chance to visit one of the largest museums dedicated to country music, I don't think I can pass it up.

The Belmont Mansion
The last thing on my list for Tennessee, at least for now, is visiting the Belmont Mansion. I know, visiting an old house doesn't seem like it would be on the top of a teenagers list, but hear me out. The whole history of this house, whose construction was completed in 1853(old, right?), revolves around the life of a woman. Now, doesn't that make it a bit more interesting? Even more so, it was built in the style of an Italian villa and has been carefully restored. I could keep talking about the history of the mansion for a while, but I think I've made my point, it, again, is too good of an opportunity to miss.

Starting with Philadelphia, the first thing I can think of doing is getting a cheesesteak. While I know, it's not the most academic thing to do, I think it's something I can't pass up. It's a silly thing to look forward to, but would it really be a trip to Philadelphia without one? I'm not sure where I'd like to go get one, I might need to do more research on Restaurants near UPenn, but I'd be happy with any. 

Independence Hall 
Switching gears a bit, I'd love to visit Independence Hall, where both the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were adopted. I think it would be really interesting to see where such famous moments in our countries history actually took place. It, again, is just too good to pass up. Also, I'd like to visit the nearby Benjamin Franklin Museum, where you can explore his life and his many traits. After reading about these people and places in history books, I'd like to see it all up close and better understand it.  

Lastly, and going back to food, I'd like to visit Reading Terminal Market. This indoor farmers market has been in business since 1892, and continues to offer interesting foods and goods. While there are so many delicious things to eat, the experience is what interests me. I've read about the northwestern corner of the market that is devoted to Amish merchants, and I am excited to be able to watch them make soft pretzels and get to try some of their own dishes which they share with the markets visitors.
Reading Terminal Market 
There are so many interesting things to do in the cities we'll be visiting this summer, I hope we'll be able to do as many activities as possible during our short time there. 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

An Eventful Board Meeting

Every year the lovely Ivy League Connection Scholarship recipients congregate at Lovonya DeJean Middle School to present what we will be doing back East and the wonders the ILC does for this school district. Personally, attending the School Board meeting makes me incredibly proud to be an ILCer.  One of our very own ILCers from the Brown cohort, Zunarah Ahmad, is one of the students on the School Board. If that's not small proof that ILCers are very involved in our community then I think I'd need to redefine community involvement.
The Vandy Cohort doing its thing
Speaking of community, the meeting began with the public comment. There was a total of 34 people signed up to speak on what they felt wasn't being addressed in the school district. The hot topic last night was the Serra Adult School. It was a huge dilemma because many people were in distress at the thought of their local Adult School closing. A huge number of members of the community attend that school because it's conveniently close to the schools their children attend. 

There is a new Dual Immersion Mandarin program that is being established in the same building of the Adult School, and many students were not happy with that. Students at Serra felt that displacing their school for the Mandarin school was unfair and would be a detriment to the community. On the other hand, a couple people spoke on the importance of the unique Mandarin school that is opening in 2 and a half months.  

There are many questions to be asked about how that situation is being managed, but hopefully, both parties are satisfied with the end results.

Don speaking to the board members, Brown missing
from the photo
When public comment was done, it was Don's turn to explain what the Ivy League Connection does for our school district. He spoke very highly of the alumni of the program and of course the ILCers this year. The 25 that are graduating this year amassed 3.5 million dollars in financial aid; I hope to be that successful with financial aid next year.

After Don's words, one by one the chaperones of each cohort spoke along with a member of each cohort. The Vanderbilt cohort was the first up. Our chaperone Jennifer introduced each of us, and then Evan was up to speak. He primarily thanked the School Board for their support and ties with the Ivy League Connection. The connection between the program and the district is actually what makes it so unique.

Each member of the cohorts had something different to say about the program, and it all fit together very nicely. When we were done, we all headed outside for a group photo with parents, chaperones, and ILCers. Don mentioned the picture used to be of 96 people at some point, hopefully, someday the ILC can go back to that size.

As Seen on TV: Board Meeting Edition

So the night of the board meeting was a very eventful one for me, especially considering I had just spent all day at school doing finals. I had just finished my drama final when I quickly stripped out of my costume, put on my nice clothes, and ran to join my dad and little sister in the car. It was a beautiful day, just a little windy. OK, make that very windy. I wasn't gonna let a breeze to my skirt and hair ruin being presented to the Board on local TV, however.

Family photo time!- my little sister, Emma (age 10), my dad, and me!
I was really excited to see everyone again because I really like everyone in the ILC program or affiliated, from the chaperones to the students to Don. We first listened to Don talk about what exactly to do before we went inside and sat in the front row. My cohort coincidentally had sat in the order of what was on our chaperone, Mrs. Hansen's, cue card, so we had it together when we didn't even know it. We instantly put our banner on our laps and chatted about this and that before the meeting began with the pledge to the flag.

I'm not going to lie, I did get a little bored in the beginning because it just seemed to drag on forever and ever, but once the meeting actually did pick up after roll call it was fine and I was intrigued in hearing the public comments.

I loved all of the speeches Don and my fellow ILCers gave during our presentation to the board that night. Everyone said something different, which I loved, and yet it all sort of tied together. There's something that's just very harmonious about that which I feel is a very good thing. It makes us feel like a family and that's always wonderful.
The ladies of the cohort as Evan gives his speech
After our presentation, we went out side and took pictures. I made a few jokes when the boys were placed because they sat criss-cross applesauce on the floor like in preschool, and then after that there was several jokes cracked which brought out everyone's pretty smiles for the camera!

Every event I go to, I feel more and more confident about leaving in July for Vanderbilt. I can't wait to see what's in store for me.
The Vanderbilt Cohort VS. the wind. Outcome: The Vandy Cohort stands strong no matter what.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

A Successful School Board Meeting

Tonight we all, the 2017 ILCers, attended our local School Board meeting and were honored for our accomplishments so far with the program. 

I started my evening by meeting with my fellow ILC cohort members, their parents, and the chaperones in the courtyard of DeJean Middle School. We all waited while Don finished setting the elaborate backdrop for our photo shoot which would take place later in the evening. Don then briefly explained how the meeting would go, where we would sit, when we would stand, who would be speaking, and more. 
Don delivering his introduction
Soon enough we were taking our seats and the meeting was about to start. I sat with Jennifer, our chaperone, and the other Vanderbilt Cohort members. After about thirty 1 minute public comment presentations, which spanned from opinions about the closing of Serra Adult School to comments about teachers wages and the housing market, it was time for the ILC to present.

The Vanderbilt Cohort
We all stood while Don introduced the program and explained what exactly The Ivy League Connection is, along with how successful it is. Then Don passed the baton to Jennifer, she introduced the Vanderbilt cohort, after which Evan said a few thanks to everyone. The other chaperones and cohorts followed, each of them touching on different topics. I especially enjoyed Robson's explanation of how we all made it to where we are, and his attention to detail when explaining the very very very very very very long presentations we had listened to prior to applying and the very very very very long emails we have all received.

Soon enough we were finished and outside taking photos. Our parents laughed while Don arranged us, adjusting our location and such, only for Don to order them to also join the photo. I'm still amazed by Don's patience when he takes photos, as in each and every photo someone was fixing their hair or blinking. We finished with the large group photos and then split up for more smaller pictures. After a few minutes it was time for us to go our separate ways, we all said our goodbyes and headed home after an eventful night. 

The ILC at the WCCUSD Board Meeting

Tonight, the ILC presented in front of the West Contra Costa Unified School Distric Board of Education meeting (that's a bit of a mouthful, isn't it?). We were there to show the Board members, and the rest of the District, the newest cohorts of ILCers. 

When my mom and I arrived, it was about 5:45 PM. We, and the rest of the group, all gathered in the courtyard, talking, as the everyone else arrived. Don gave us some last minute instructions once everyone had arrived, then we trickled inside to take our seats. Once inside, we waited a little longer before the meeting officially began. The Board went through the roll call and other small small items before proceeding to one minute personal statements. Many of them were about the Serra Adult School, and others were about living conditions, construction and more. All told, there were over 30 statements addressing the Board before those statements finished and the ILC was called up.

Don introducing us to the school Board
When we were called up, Don gave some opening remarks, then handed it off to the chaperones and students. I was one of the first speakers, right after Ms. Hansen, our chaperone, who introduced our cohort. I thanked the Board themselves, as well as our sponsors and everyone else who helps this program run. Without them, none of us would be going back East this summer. After I spoke, the other chaperones and speakers came up and spoke as well. Following them was Don again, to conclude the ILC's presentation. I think it went over well, and I'm glad we could show people what District students can accomplish, an important part of the ILC's mission.

Once we had finished speaking, we went outside for photos. We took a massive group photo, with everyone in it - a tricky thing to do with all the wind and the cold, but Don managed to get it all done well. It was about 8:15 PM by that time, and I was almost ready to leave. Our cohort took a picture togethter first, and then all of the ECHS students also took a picture together, After that, my mom and I left to go eat some dinner, but I also think it was an evening well spent. 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

A Night Out at Town Hall

Last night I had the pleasure of attending a dinner with the Vanderbilt and UChicago cohorts, along with many other guests. 

My mom and I arrived at the El Cerrito Plaza BART station at 4:35 and we were excited to see we were the first people there. That was until Don informed us that Maddie and her father had arrived almost an hour earlier, so I guess by their standards we were late. We waited for about a half hour or so as more cohort members and guests arrived, doing some some quick introductions. I got to meet the Chicago cohort members, their parents, and the other guests that were joining us for the evening. 

Soon enough, it was time to head towards the BART train. Don passed out Clipper cards to all of us, and we as a group made our way through the BART entrance, up the escalator, and to the train platform. 

As we waited for the train I spoke with Jahnvi, a member of the Chicago cohort. She happened to have done the same program last summer that I will be doing at Vanderbilt this summer, so it was nice to learn some more information about the course I will be taking. Within a few minutes we were getting onto a train going straight to the city(no transfer needed!). I, along with some other cohort members, stood for the duration of the ride to the city.

Within no time at all we were at the Embarcadero station and were making our way to the restaurant. While walking to the restaurant, Town Hall, I spoke with Alice, a former ILCer who went to UChicago last summer and will be attending UChicago in the fall. We spoke about the college application process and she gave some words of wisdom about applying to colleges which I'm sure will come in handy for me next year. 
Distributing table settings prior to the dinner
We arrived at the restaurant and made our way upstairs to the private dining room, where we had a short reception before starting the dinner itself. I spoke with Linda Cohen, a former teacher/Principal and current ILC panelist, and Joceline, a fellow Vanderbilt cohort member, about the classes we'll be taking at Vanderbilt and Ms. Cohen's college experience. I also was able to speak with Christopher Dewing, a UChicago alum, about his college experience. 
Everyone in their seats in the dining room
We were soon ushered into the main dining room. I found my place card and saw that I was seated next to my mother and my chaperone, Jennifer Hansen. Along with them, my table included John Tilsch, a Vanderbilt alum ('04), Mister Phillips, a school board member, and Linda Cohen, whom I had spoken with earlier in the evening. We went around the table and introduced ourselves, John briefly explained his history with Vanderbilt and shared how the school had shaped him as a person. He explained that when visiting schools, the second he stepped foot on campus at Vanderbilt he knew it was the right fit for him, his enthusiasm about the school only grew during his time as a student. I, and the others at my table, continued to ask him about his experience at Vanderbilt and we shared anecdotes with each other until it was time for speeches and salad. 

Eppa delivering his speech at Town Hall
Madeline Kronenberg began the speeches, she had everyone go around and introduce themselves and shared some kind words about the program and her experience with it. She was followed by Raqeeb, a Chicago Cohort member who shared his thoughts about the program and thanked everyone for attending. Next, Christopher Dewing ('14) shared a bit about his wonderful experience at UChicago and explained how much it had impacted him. Madison, who will be attending Vanderbilt this summer with me, then shared some words about the program and her excitement for this coming summer. Eppa Rixey ('11), a Vanderbilt Alum, was next, he briefly explained his experience at Vanderbilt and what opportunities it had granted him. Lastly, Don wrapped up the speeches with a thank you to everyone in attendance.

We were served our main courses, there was an option between short ribs and salmon, both of which looked delicious. I chose to have the short ribs, which were served with potatoes and roasted vegetables (the meal was amazing). While we ate we continued our conversation, I shared a bit about my school experience with Mister Phillips, who, as a school board member, was interested in hearing my opinion of our schools. I also got to know Jennifer, my chaperone, much better and learned that she is currently a French teacher at De Anza. I was exited to hear this as I've taken French classes, so maybe I'll get to practice my French with her during the trip.

Jennifer and me at the dinner table 
John also told us a bit about Nashville as city, he recommend a cafe near by which has live music and a restaurant called Hot Chicken, I was advised to order the mild as even it is very spicy. He also shared some tips about the application process, he emphasized how important it is to be yourself in your essays and let your personality shine through as much as possible. 

By this time in the evening everyone had finished their main courses and desserts were served, this was a butterscotch and chocolate pot de creme with buttercrunch toffee. We continued our conversation over dessert, it was a delicious meal, I especially loved the toffee part of the dessert. 

When everyone had finished, the cohort members and alumni headed downstairs to take pictures. Don helped to arrange us for the pictures so that everyone was visible, and within a few minutes the photo shoot was over. The alumni left after this, so we thanked them for spending the evening with us and said our goodbyes, then we headed back upstairs to the dining room. While we waited for the Chicago cohort to finish with photos I spoke with some of the parents whom had accompanied us to the dinner. 
A lovely photo of the Vanderbilt cohort and alumni
We then began our walk back to BART, I spoke with Linda Cohen during this time about my high school experience and my college search. She told me about why she chose the school she attended and I shared with her what colleges I'm looking at, our conversation continued to drift to and from countless different subjects. She offered me advice about choosing the right school, look for something that really fits your personality and then work from there, pick a school that feels right. I really enjoyed getting to hear her perspective on a variety of topics.

We then boarded BART, the night was quickly winding down. I stood with some other ILCers until seats on the train became available, after a few stops the crowded train began thinning out and Joceline and I were able to sit. We arrived at the El Cerrito Plaza Bart station, where we had started our journey, and after exiting the BART station we gave our Clipper cards back to Don. We all said our goodbyes and my mom and I headed to the car, I was ready to go home to my bed after an eventful night. I had a lovely time at Town Hall, it was great meeting so many new people. After the dinner I'm even more excited for Vanderbilt this summer than I was before (if that's possible). 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Nice Dinner, Even Better Seating Arrangements

I'd like to primarily put some emphasis on how amazingly arranged the tables were because they allowed for great conversation with the incredible people I enjoyed dinner with at Town Hall last night.

I was met by a rather large group as I arrived at the El Cerrito BART station with my sister, happy to be right on time. Everyone did introductions: UChicago and Vandy cohorts, parents, ILC alums, and chaperones. This was my first time finding out who the Vandy cohort chaperone was going to be, and I was pleased to finally meet her.

After a few minutes, we started heading to the platforms to board on the Millbrae train towards Embarcadero. Before the train arrived, I conversed with Jennifer, our chaperone, and found out she's a new teacher this year at De Anza High School but was at Kennedy for a very long time.

On the train, I sat next to Ryan Cutter, an ILC alum from Hercules and soon to be a freshman at UChicago this Fall. We talked about his experience at UChicago last summer and what made him want to apply there. He had some great stories to tell and I was impressed by how personal his essay was for his application, it's no wonder he got accepted. I also talked a bit to Alice, who also will be attending UChicago in the Fall, about applying to colleges and how it feels when a college really fits.

With so many things to talk about, the BART ride felt very short, and after walking a few blocks we were outside of Town Hall. On the walk to Town Hall and at the reception, I talked to Jahnvi about her summer at Vanderbilt last year. She spoke highly of the many dining options available just outside of the Vanderbilt campus, for when VSA students are allowed to go out. Also, she told me VSA hosts 2 dances, one at the beginning of the course and at the end. I think events like that are exciting because they're opportunities to meet people.

When everyone had arrived, Don had already set all the cards down for the seating arrangements. Unlike the dinner I attended last year, there were several round tables. I promptly found the one with my sister's name and mine. I noticed I was sitting right next to a Vanderbilt alum, who graduated in 2012, Lucas Scholl. I also noticed across from me would be sitting a familiar name, Michael Terry, who has previously interviewed me and is actually one of the Ivy League Connection Sponsors. Next to him was another sponsor, Scott Berge and his wife Michelle Berge. 

As everyone found their seats, I introduced myself. It was actually very easy to make conversation with everyone at my table, which I was extremely glad about. Lucas Scholl graduated from Vanderbilt after studying Economics and now works for a company named TruTag Technologies. It was interesting because Michelle Berge actually works at McKesson which is a health care company that sells pharmaceuticals and TruTag produces invisible and edible bar codes that can be used on things such as medicine. 

Listening to what Lucas had to say
Lucas told me so many things about his time at Vanderbilt and the opportunities they offer and some history about the school as well, which I thought was really useful. He spoke highly of the Math department at Vanderbilt, which is something I'm curious about, but also life at Vanderbilt. He said that coming from North Carolina, he wasn't really into country music, but he left Vanderbilt a country music fan. Also, apparently hockey is extremely popular in Nashville and Vanderbilt students often get tickets a discounted price. Even more on sports, Vanderbilt was once going to take down its football stadium to build a library on top to emphasize academics, good thing they didn't. I hadn't taken into consideration how much school spirit Vanderbilt has along with being really well known for its academics. 

The conversation was always engaging mostly because Mr. Terry had several questions that led to either laughs or insightful answers. I didn't only learn things about Vanderbilt, such as their Alternative Spring Break option or Law school opportunities, but also advice on choosing a career. Both Scott Berge and Mr. Terry work at Architecture firms in both management and design, and they both explained to me what they loved about Architecture and what led them to it. I'd never thought about it, but for them, Architecture also includes how space makes a person feel.  

If it was possible, I would go on endlessly about how amazing the dinner went for me. I learned so much, far more than I could put into words for a blog. It made far more excited to visit Vanderbilt than I was before and opened up my options a little more as well as far as what I might want to do. 
the Vandy cohort with the 4 great alums outside of Town Hall

Food, Vanderbilt University, and Red Sox

Last night was the night of the dinner for the Chicago and Vanderbilt cohorts. It started off normal enough- with my dad and I showing up over an hour early because we feared traffic and being late. I am not going to lie, I felt really silly showing up this early and then sitting in the parking lot for 40 plus minutes waiting for everyone else to show up so we could walk to where we were meeting. But that is neither here nor there. Everyone showed up on time thankfully and we were able to catch the direct train to San Francisco to go to the restaurant. On the train I spoke with a girl from the Chicago cohort named Lindsay Long about various movies and books, as well as shared complaints about teachers at our school. Good times, eh?

Once we got to San Francisco, I was pretty shocked. I’m not really used to big cities, because all my family lives in rural areas and then I live in a small town myself, so it was a bit of a shock. All the buildings were so tall I had a crick in my neck every time I tried to look up at them. My dad pointed out a building someone he knows is working on, which was sort of cool.

The restaurant itself was very small compared to everything else I had seen beforehand in the city, to be quite honest. We walked up the stairs to get to our dining room and we started off by having conversation in the…lobby...? Hall? I wouldn’t know the proper word for it. Lindsay, Evan, Cameron, and I got into a conversation with a man named Christopher Dewing, a Chicago alum who works for a mobile game platform called Skillz. He told us about how his job works and it was very interesting to hear about algorithms and testing that goes into these games.

At the table I was seated at I was with Evan and his father, Eppa Rixey and Tori Wycoff, the co-presidents of the Vanderbilt alums of the Bay Area, Madeline Kronenberg, a member of the WCCUSD school board, Kevin, a former ILCer who now attends Cal, and then Dad.

I was the person that was chosen to speak for my cohort during the speech portion of the dinner, and I think I left a pretty good impact on those that were there. I was a little nervous in general, but overall I was OK. The speech seemed to be the easy part of the night, honestly, because actually sitting at the table and talking took my dad a push or two to get me going. But once I was going, I was going, and I learned a lot about Tennessee, Vanderbilt, and how to get good with the schools from Eppa, as well as some facts about his own life.

Did you know Eppa’s great-grandfather was a Hall of Fame left-handed pitcher for the Red Sox? I didn't until I met him.

I know, very small point, but it was still very interesting. Aside from that fact, I learned Vanderbilt has been completely overrun by squirrels to the point they introduced hawks and owls to handle the problem, and they are extremely experience- and personality-based in their selections for applicants, among many other things I am grateful to know now.
Great shot of the salad course of the meal. Spring mix, walnuts, Asian pear, and balsamic vinaigrette. :)

The food was absolutely amazing. I was actually impressed because normally I eat food other than what is made by my dad and think "This isn't as good as Dad's" in the back of my mind, but this time that didn't even cross my mind. Personally my favorite part was the dessert, but hey, that's everyone's favorite, am I right? Haha.

Then we went outside to take pictures with the alums and Don was disappointed about the fact the boulder he normally took pictures in front of was surrounded by construction work so he couldn't take a picture in front of it this year. But other than that and it being extremely cold and windy to me (try wearing a sun dress in that weather! Yikes!) pictures went very smoothly.
This is what you will find when you look up "squad goals" on Urban Dictionary
The last cool thing of that night was that I found out was that Jennifer Hansen, my chaperone, is my best friend's French teacher at De Anza. It was very fun to find out and my friend made several jokes about how I had to help persuade Ms. Hansen into giving her an A in the French class when I texted her later on in the night as I was doing my homework.

All in all, this was a very good experience and I had a lot of fun! I learned a lot, met some really cool people, and gained a lot of confidence of being among everyone. Thank you all for a great night!