Sunday, August 6, 2017

The ILC Adventure

I remember the first time anyone mentioned the Ivy League Connection to me, my mom had just been told about it by a friend of hers and she encouraged me to keep an eye out for any flyers, etc. I nodded it off, I was only an upcoming freshman and sophomore and junior year seemed so far away. Eventually, though, sophomore year did roll around, and I was invited to go to the ILC presentation. It seemed like a lot, that’s all I really remember, so I decided to wait to apply until the next year, when I’d be better prepared. 

As you can probably tell, I did apply that next year, and I was accepted to be part of the 2017 Vanderbilt Cohort. The application process wasn't easy, as was expected, I slaved over my essays, rewriting draft after draft. I wanted to make sure they were perfect and really showed why I wanted to be a part of the ILC, and I guess I was successful in my mission as I was selected for an interview.

I worked myself up a lot more than I needed to for my interview, I remember practicing questions with my parents, having my friends read over some rough responses I’d written down, and even doing a mock interview with a past ILCer. I really couldn't tell you what I said during my interview, it’s all a blur of nerves, but, again, all this hard work paid off, as I made it through the interview. Looking back on it, the interview was a really great experience, it made me think critically on the spot and served as good practice for the countless other interviews I’ll likely face in my near future.

The next big milestone event for us was the dinner, a lovely night out where I got to share a delicious meal with some fantastic people. I was nervous preparing for this dinner. I remember that the timing was a bit nerve-wracking, I had to drive home from school as quickly as possible, then get ready (I tried to make myself look a bit presentable), and get to BART with my mom in record time. Again, I’d prepared myself for the worst, I thought I’d be too nervous to talk to anyone, that I’d make a bad impression, that Don would see my inability to function in the adult world and send me on my way (goodbye ILC). But, luckily, I was wrong. I ended up having a wonderful time at the dinner, and felt like it ended entirely too quickly. I loved getting to talk to the Vanderbilt Alumni, getting to hear about why the school stood out to them and what their experiences were like during their times as students at the university. The picture of what exactly Vanderbilt is, as a school, began to come to life. And with every detail I learned about Vanderbilt, I was looking forward to boarding that Nashville-bound plane more and more.

Another important part of the ILC experience was the School Board meeting, this is where it all started to set in. I finally realized that I would actually be going away from home for three weeks, that I was really taking part in such an amazing experience, and that from then on, it would all be happening very fast.

And, from then on, everything happened very quickly. We had our cohort dinner; a night out at Zachary’s followed by a walk to Indian Rock, where we got to know each other a bit more. 

Then it was the Orientation, where I was given a lot more information than I had thought was possible, itinerary details were surprisingly intricate. This was another somewhat overwhelming moment, but I can only imagine how much planning went into it on Don's part. Even more overwhelming to think about; the Orientation was our group’s last event before Departure Day, our last stop before our final destination. 

Soon enough we were leaving California for Tennessee. Waking up on Departure Day I felt a whirlwind of emotions, I was nervous, worried, and excited, all at the same time. My time at Vanderbilt was amazing, it was thought provoking, exciting, and some of the best weeks of my life.

Sadly, all good things must come to an end. After the many months of preparation for my wonderful three weeks at Vanderbilt and those actual three weeks, it was time to go home. I was sad that it was over but happy to go home, and happy that I’d bring home with me all the wonderful memories and skills I had made and learned. 

I'm really thankful for the Ivy League Connection for making this experience possible, for broadening my view of the future, giving me a taste of engineering (which I now think I’d like to pursue in college), and for all the experiences leading up to the trip. Being a part of the Ivy League Connection made me think carefully and gave me some amazing exposure to new things that otherwise wouldn't have been available to me. 

Lastly, I’d like to thank the Ivy League Connection, including all of the donors who made this trip possible, for this amazing summer. And, I’d especially like to thank Don for all his hard work, late nights, and overall dedication to making this all possible. 

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