Now my final blog. The cherry on top of the best opportunity I have ever had. Without the Ivy League Connection, I would have sat at home, wishing I could do something more with my summer. On a regular morning at school, I got the same slip of paper I have gotten every year. Don Gosney was coming to our school again to talk about ILC. I went in my freshman year, even though I could not apply. Then in my sophomore year, but I thought I might be switching schools, and I was applying to other summer programs, so I disregarded the invitation. And finally, in my junior year, I thought I would take it seriously. I applied for Vanderbilt first and got denied. This was a severe blow to my ego. I thought I could get in no problem but eight other people got the interview spots and I did not. I took it as a sign that I had areas to improve so I went back to my essays, made them stronger, and applied to the Chicago program. I remember I was in Park City, Utah when I got the email saying I was invited to interview. I felt overjoyed and proud that I had improved enough to move on this time.
|The day we left El Cerrito for St. Louis. Months of|
preparations led to this point. Without the ILC and the
sponsors, I would never have had this opportunity.
Arriving at EL Cerrito High on the day of the interview, I saw two others from my school and a group of well-dressed students that had written as well, if not better, than I did. I felt confident in my abilities to impress the interviewers. I had practiced with previous ILCers and knew to smile and keep eye contact. I hoped to go first but as soon as I said that, I got the eighth spot out of nine. As I sat and watched people come in and out one by one, the tension rose. Once it was my turn, I took and deep breath and did my best. Apparently, my best was enough to secure one of four spots to the University of Chicago. Still in shock, I got a bunch of papers to sign and was sent on my way. I walked up to my mom waiting in the car and could not hide the smile on my face. She knew immediately. I was going to Chicago.
I had a lot of work to do after that day. I had forms to sign, information sessions to attend, and an application to UChicago to fill out. All of this made me feel more responsible for my success and prepared to apply to college. The entire lead up to the trip made me anxious and excited. When we had our dinner in San Francisco with alumni and school board members, I gave a small speech. I told them all how grateful we are, as a cohort, to have this opportunity. As students in an underprivileged school district, sights are often set on community colleges and state schools. There are so many schools that we do not have information about, but ILC changes that. I felt contained by California and Oregon but now think about East Coast and Midwest schools. On top of that, I can tell my friends and classmates about the amazing places I have seen, hopefully encouraging them to apply.
|The day we returned. I was sad to leave all the amazing|
people I met and the great city of Chicago, but
now I can spread the knowledge I gained and hopefully
go back to Chicago with some friends from here.
At Chicago, with these blogs, I had to stay prompt. I had to act like an adult, and that came with responsibility. The blogs were always on my list of to-dos and some days I despised them. But I felt a need to write the blogs above being told to do so. You may notice that we have nearly 12,000 views on our page. That is over double the amount of the next best cohort. Obviously, people are reading them, wanting to learn about our experience and see if it is worth it to send a bunch of teenagers across the country. Hopefully by reading the blogs they can see it is. I mean that with all my heart. I hope the ILC continues past my time in school, past Don, past whatever time mark. If everyone could take part in this program, I think they should. I just want everyone to know that this scholarship is special. Don Gosney chooses to put his entire being into this. Financially putting in money to give as many scholarships as possible, mentally by dealing with thirty teenagers, and physically by staying up until the middle of the night to arrange our flights. Thank you to the ILC for making my summer worth something and giving me a goal for the future. My only regret is that I waited this long. As the motto goes: "When opportunity knocks, some people answer the door ~ others just complain about the noise." For a long time, I was complaining. Finally, I answered, and it could not have gone better.