Saturday, May 24, 2014

Keeping my "Eyes on the Prize"

Disclaimer: I'm sure this post looks a lot like monotonous rambling since it's not pretty looking, but bear with me as I will be adding more photos shortly.

Last night, my Cornell cohort and I attended another exciting event: the San Francisco dinner with ILC sponsors and Cornell alumni. Prior to the dinner, I was feeling apprehensive. I was nervous about making small talk and even more intimidated by the fact that the kind individuals, who are funding this amazing opportunity to go to Cornell this summer, were to be in attendance. But the night turned out to be a pleasant surprise.

My mom attended the school board meeting last week, so the dinner last night was my dad’s turn. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little worried about our punctuality. My dad has a tendency to be late to things. But I kept my faith and lo and behold we arrived to BART, not just on time, but early. And so did everyone else. As we waited in the wind (at this point I began to reconsider my decision to wear a dress) we began our mingling. Carla and I, nervously, introduced ourselves to Mrs. Madeline Kronenberg and within the first 20 minutes of the night, I had already received advice (secrets) on applying to college. When the train had come we finally got to get out of the wind. I looked for a seat next to one of the adults coming along with us, but everyone had already paired up with one another. So I sat in an empty row. Kevin’s dad ended up sitting next to me. I thought I was going to get in trouble because, though he is an adult, he is not affiliated with the Ivy League Connection. Still, we got to talking just fine, which reminds me: Kevin, you should hurry up and get your license…

Once we were in San Francisco, we had to hike a few blocks to the restaurant, Town Hall. I use ‘hike’ because I was wearing high heels, but anyways I survived. Town Hall doesn't look much like the fine-dining restaurant it is inside from the outside. In fact, my dad, who works at Genentech in South San Francisco, discovered that he passes Town Hall everyday on his bus ride home and had never realized it was a restaurant.

Our dinner was held in a private room upstairs. As we were notified ahead of time, we had to wait for Mr. Ramsey to set up name placards. This was the time for, as Don put it, our brilliance to shine. We were to speak with the alumni. Of course, I was still feeling awkward. Plus, everyone was already engaged in full-fledged conversations. I introduced myself to a few alumni, but soon after Don called us in to be seated. I found myself at a table with my dad, Carla, her mom and three Cornell alumni. From there, the night took off.

As the waitresses brought around hors d'oeuvres, I introduced myself to the special guests. To my right was Mr. David Zahora, a 2006 alumnus. Mrs. Carolyn Day Flowers, a 1989 alumna, was to my left and Ms. Ali Austerlitz, a 2009 alumna, was across the table. Our conversations were completely enlightening. I learned to not "box" myself in and how important it is to network and form lasting relationships. Cornell is the perfect place to do just that, so I inferred. I learned from Mrs. Day Flowers to always stay true to myself, no matter what. (Another helpful hint for writing my personal statement). And Ms. Austerlitz explained how she studied abroad, an opportunity I'd now love to take. Not once throughout the night was there a dull moment. I was constantly learning new things. As the night progressed, I even began to discover more of who I am.

Before our entrees came, we had a few presentations. One in particular resonated with me the most: Ms. Samantha Berg's inspiring speech. She spoke of how she switched majors from architecture to engineering until she finally settled with human ecology, in which her career centers around today. I am at the crossroads of choosing my collegiate-career path, so it is somewhat comforting to know I still have time to decide and that trying out a few things before finding your true passion is completely acceptable.

Then came our food. It was to die for. I had a salad as an appetizer, salmon as my main course and a delicious banana, cinnamon dish for dessert.

All the while, the conversation continued, lively and exciting. Ms. Austerlitz spoke of two "hidden spots" on campus: a bridge that has the most amazing views and a room in the library that is so silent unzipping your backpack would be deafening. She also mentioned a small place a mile away called the 'Commons'--at least, I'm pretty sure that's what it was called. I was overwhelmed with information last night so it's hard to remember all the details. However, she assured me all I had to do was describe these places as she had and any Cornellian would know what I was talking about. This along with Mr. Zahora's description of the botanical garden and gorges, which supposedly you use to be able to swim in, made me really excited to go exploring around Cornell. I probably will be too busy with the course to see all these places, but it definitely peaked my interest and I am already considering applying to Cornell this fall.

The night eventually began to wind down. We all shook hands, thanked the alumni for taking time out of their lives to enlighten us, said our farewells, and moseyed back to the BART station. Reflecting on the night, it is one that is unforgettable. I can hardly wait for June 16th, especially now. My dad even wishes he can go! He said last night, "I was excited for these kids before this dinner, but now I'm stoked!". I'm motivated to end my school year on a good note, thrive at summer college and come back and enlighten the rest of my community just as so many people did for me.

Of course, I must extend my immense gratitude and appreciation to all of those who make the Ivy League Connection possible. I will not let you down.

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