I think it is important to note that this was not my first time participating in the Ivy League Connection, so my experience with it a second time around is slightly different from the first timers'. As a recap, ever since my freshman year I was pretty in love with the idea of the Ivy League Connection. Having never visited the South or the East Coast it was thrilling to hear the alums talk about their experiences at these prestigious summer programs. I couldn't wait until it was time for me to apply.
Obviously the experience last year was life-changing and enjoyable enough that I decided to apply once again. Nevertheless, going into the interview room last December was just as, if not more, nerve-wracking as it had been the 3 times before that. I think part of that was due to the fact that I had a hard time getting picked for a scholarship last year, and even when I didn't let it affect my self-esteem I wasn't that confident going into this interview. To my surprise, I was chosen to become part of the Vanderbilt cohort and I was ecstatic.
There are several things I appreciate about the Ivy League Connection besides the act of sending me across the country, full-cost covered, and those are the events beforehand. Not only does the ILC feed us for about 3 weeks in the summer, but also about 2 more times, and in my case 3 before we depart.
The dinner with the alumni was so meaningful to me because they gave me an idea of what to expect at Vanderbilt; there's no one better way to get information about a school than from someone who attended it. Going to this dinner, I still wasn't so sure what my opinion on Vanderbilt was. But, afterward, I had so much more knowledge about what the school focused on and what student life was like. I also had a better idea of the atmosphere of Nashville itself. I could've read about all of these things, but this was just far more genuine.
Another great thing I'd like to emphasize about the dinner is the opportunity to speak with the panelists outside of that intimidating room. I'm not exactly certain about how to put it into words but talking to the panelists, at least for me, ends up becoming a very feel-good moment because they're so proud of what we're accomplishing and they only have good wishes for us.
On that note, I'm eternally grateful for the alumni, sponsors, and panelists that support the Ivy League Connection and take time out of their day to facilitate the program. Like I've said, for me, the program has been incredibly life-changing and I probably wouldn't have the knowledge about college that I do without it. Another group of people that ILC wouldn't be possible without and I'm forever indebted to are the people at the universities, such as one of my favorite people Rosie from VSA and Janna from CUSC. Don, of course, most of all is a very amazing individual for continuing to make this program happen. Once you're an ILCer I don't think you ever stop being one and part of that is having that support from Don.
Being an ILCer is all about giving back and a lot of that is due to the fact we receive a lot as ILCers. We gain connections, friends, memories, and knowledge that doesn't quite compare to anything else. We also gain the opportunity to share all that we learn with our friends and classmates. Even my friends say they're happy I do this program because they get to question me all about the schools I visited and my thoughts on them. Consequently, I'm always very happy to share with them what I experience and always encourage them to apply to these schools or if they're younger, to apply to the ILC.
I know this blog is a little all over the place, but my time with the Ivy League Connection has been fantastic and there are several people I wanted to thank all at once, and I really wanted to highlight the fact that the dinners are my favorite part outside of the time being out of state. I truly believe that the Ivy League Connection works wonders in the WCCUSD and I hope to someday be one of the people that keep the ILC around or at least someone that other ILCers can go to for advice.