Wednesday, May 9, 2012
We met with everyone at the El Cerrito Plaza BART station and from there Adrianne, Mariko, Kathleen, Erinn and I rode with Don to the Olympic Club, a prestigious county club in San Francisco.
The event was absolutely amazing. I had the opportunity to talk to some amazing alums and I loved hearing stories of their time at Brown. We talked about the open curriculum, JFK Jr., adjusting to college and so much more. Listening to Brown alums talk about their experiences always reinforces in my mind the satisfaction that I made the right decision!
Besides learning about the Brown mentorship program and Brown alums, I also got to see my chaperone from my ILC trip to Cornell, Ms. Kaplan, which was absolutely wonderful!
Following our meal, Mr. Ramsey's brother Ismail, gave us a tour of the Olympic Club (where the U.S. Open will be held!).
The event was fabulous and made me even more excited to be a student at Brown. I want to thank the ILC for including me in this event. I have been involved with the ILC since my sophomore year and it has truly been one of the most rewarding programs I have ever been involved with. I cannot thank Mr. Ramsey, Mrs. Kronenberg, Don, Ismail Ramsey and everyone else for this lovely event.
Friday, July 22, 2011
Thursday, July 21, 2011
To me, the ILC is far more than just taking a college class at an Ivy League institution. Had it not been for this program, I would still be a small shy teenager quietly minding my own business. I applied to the program, knowing what I observed about my sister who was part of the ILC for two years. I feel that she has become more confident, and more willing to speak in front of other people besides our family and friends. I think that the same change has happen to me. I remember what Milani told me on our last day at Columbia and I think it sums up the change that has happened to me because of this program. She told me, “When I first talked to you at the dinner I thought you were this shy kid who hiding in a shell. I’m so happy that you came out of your shell.” Going through the interview, writing formal email to Mrs. Kronenberg, Don, and Mr. Ramsey, reaching out to admission officers, talking to alumni, talking to professors, and interacting with top notch students from across the globe has made me a much more confident person. I would say that I am now more willing to initiate a conversation with a stranger and has made me less likely to walk away and just mingle with who I know well.
In addition to exploring the Big Apple and meeting new people, I was sent to Columbia University to take a class called Constitutional Law. Let me begin by saying the class was absolutely amazing. I firmly believe the ILC should offer this course again next year. Why? When I first applied for this class I thought that it was going to be centered on how to be a lawyer, and I was completely wrong. The class focuses on understanding Supreme Court opinions and how the justices develop their opinion. The most important lesson I think I’ve taken away from this class is to make legal, not moral arguments. Now when I watch the news, or read newspapers and come across a case, I ask myself, what would be my argument. I learned so much from by professors about the Constitution in these three weeks than I ever did in all my years of school. This class taught me that the Constitution can be interpreted in radically different ways, because of the origionalist, textualist, and developmentalist. I learned that differences about key topics such as capital punishment stem from these different beliefs. While our professors were very knowledgeable, the part of the class I found to be the most enjoyable were the discussions. A typical class would begin with our professor discussing the facts of the case and explaining the reasoning behind the majority, concurring, and dissenting opinions. After that, it was pretty much open discussion about whether or not we agreed with the court. When we had exhausted one case, our professor would talk about another case, which was similar, but had different reasoning or an entirely different decision. We were then asked something along the lines of why do you think the reasoning changed?” I think through these discussions, I’ve learned so much more than just from reading a dull textbook. These discussions allowed me to be exposed to ideas I would have never thought of. For example if someone asked me in the beginning if I supported interpreting the Constitution taking in account social factors or just by following the Constitution word by word, I would have undoubtedly said follow the Constitution word by word. However, as we read and discussed cases such as Schenck v. United States and Abrams v. United States, I realized that I’m more of a person who would interpret the Constitution taking in account social factors. Participating in discussions has brought to my attention the dangers of having truly free speech. If we had an absolute right to free speech then, one could scream “Fire!” in a crowded theatre with no aims but to cause harm and would be protected by the law. It is these controversial issues such as should the government be able to regulate free speech, Supreme Court decisions, and their reasoning that I wish to bring back and share with my peers.
I think it is critical that I share what I’ve learned at Columbia with my peers because it is o the upmost importance that everyone knows about the Constitution that we live under. I believe that everyone needs to know about how the Supreme Court has interpreted the vagueness of certain parts of the law, and how certain parts of the Constitution can be manipulated. I plan to share this information by first telling my friends and teachers at school. Hopefully, they will also find this material interesting and share this with their friends and family and more people will be aware of landmark decisions. Next, I would like to found a club where member would debate matters such as the commerce clause or the right to privacy. As the debates become more and more interesting, then I hope to get more members and soon, there would be many more people from grades 9-12 who are aware of the Constitution and how it has been interpreted.
The ILC has truly provided me with an amazing period of growth. I have become much more confident and have learned so much from my peers as well as my professors at Columbia. I cannot thank the sponsors, Mrs. Kronenberg, Don, Mr. Ramsey, Mrs. L., Beilul, Milani, Irene, and Will enough because it has really been a mind-blowing experience.
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
American Presidential Powers At Home and Abroad
Beilul Naizghi's Reflection
The Experience “The Most Exciting Summer of My Life”
Only through the Ivy League Connection was I given the opportunity to take a trip to New York City to study presidential power at Columbia Universities, one of the best institutions of higher learning in the world. My time at Columbia was filled with countless new experiences. Throughout three weeks, I wrote my first research paper, participated in a seminar discussion course, explored NYC, got “cultured” at a museum and so much more. I am now absolutely sure that I want to go to the East Coast for college.
I now understand why New York City is called the city that never sleeps. During my time in NYC, I went to see so many sights and shows. I went to different boroughs of NYC including SoHo, Times Square and Coney Island; many shows on and off Broadway including How to Succeed in Business Without Trying, the Blue Man Group and Billy Elliot; and spectacular sights including Top of the Rock, a cruise around NYC and 4th of July Fireworks over the Hudson River. The types of events and activities that occur in NYC are unparalleled anywhere else. It is the most exciting city I have ever been to and there were so many things to do that I did not have the time to do. I will definitely be back.
Dorms “The Suite Life”
The girls at the Columbia program all lived in suites. My suite (which I was lucky enough to share with Milani) had about 12 girls under the care of our two Residential Advisors: Meghan and Ashley. The living space was equipped with two refrigerators, 2 microwaves, a kitchen, a television, a living room and 4 bathrooms and shower stalls. I must say, I do prefer suite life more than regular dorm life because it felt a bit more homey. During some of our midnight pizza parties, I enjoyed getting to know the girls in my suite. Our conversations were particularly interesting because half of the suite was international students from Indonesia, India, Spain, Singapore and Sweden.
One of the eye opening parts of this amazing experience was my discovery of the magic of a university library system. The university stacks and online databases were all very new and incredibly extensive. I enjoyed the hours I spent roaming around in the stacks looking for certain books I had found on the catalog CLIO or browsing ProQuest and the other online databases for articles. I have fallen in love with university libraries and Columbia University was the absolute best place to do this.
The Butler Library:
Besides her infinite wisdom on all things presidential, Doc Z had some great advice for us to keep in mind later in life. Essentially, she told us not to feel pressured to go through the typical life plan – 4 years of college, maybe graduate school and then get a job – and do what we want to and feel is right for us. I really appreciated this advice and I will definitely keep it in mind when I am contemplating my next step in life.
I really hope that more Hercules (and WCCUSD) students apply to ILC programs next year- I will be urging them to do so. It is a priceless opportunity for us as students to expand our minds in a college environment. To meet people from other states, other countries, and other continents. To be exposed to new ideas and new slang. To experience college life at a world-renown institution. To study where world leaders, industry tycoons and incredible minds have studied before us. And, most importantly, to explore our options that go beyond West Contra Costa, beyond UC Berkeley and beyond California. To open our eyes to the plethora of colleges on the East Coast (and other regions of the U.S.) that have reputations that cross oceans and endowments the size of our national debt. To explore these institutions until we find the right fit – a school we will eventually call home.
I cannot express my gratitude enough to the exceptionally generous ILC sponsors for funding this life changing program. I would also like to thank the heart of the Ivy League Connection: Don, Mr. Ramsey and Mrs. Kronenberg for the countless hours they work on our behalf. Finally, thank you to the amazing teachers and staff at Hercules High School (and throughout WCCUSD) for helping us reach our highest potential and my parents for always supporting me.
And, of course, a thank you to my amazing Columbia cohort: Eric, Milani, Will and Irene as well as our fabulous chaperone Mrs. Lilhanand.
When I first was accepted into the ILC as part of the cohort that would go to Columbia University, I thought to myself what now. Yeah, I had heard the stories about how great it was to leave home and experience a whole new world on the other side of the country, but part of me didn’t want to believe it.
Before I left, I thought I had everything figured out. I planned on going to UC Berkeley just like everyone else and I was going to be happy staying at home. Those 3 weeks on the east coast pulled that rug from underneath me and forced me to realize, that’s not all that’s out there. There is so much more that people don’t even know about. Had I not been accepted, I would have never known or believed those who had told me. It was the wakeup call I desperately needed.
My first week was a whirlwind. I found out things about myself that I hadn’t known before. I learned that I thought I was independent but I really wasn’t considering the homesickness I had for a while. I wasn’t used to sleeping in the quite with only the street noise once my suite mates went to sleep, since I’m used to my family being up way past my own personal bed time. I thought of myself as outgoing even though in the beginning I was extremely shy. I learned that I wasn’t comfortable going outside of my comfort zone although I had known this before I left. However, most importantly I learned I can overcome it. I learned that that is not a barrier I have to break down anymore because this opportunity taught me that I can deal with this. I’m no longer afraid to go into a college environment, let alone step outside of my comfort zone to get what I really want.
The college course was on another level. It was a complete 180 degree turn from high school life. Of course, they have these classes that are called “Advanced Placement” classes that are supposed to be up to par with a college class but I personally saw no resemblance. I was lucky enough to have professor that could work closely with me and frequently asked me how I was doing. Overall, the college class knocked me into reality. I was used to procrastinating in almost all of my classes with my school work. I’m happy to say, that was the old me. Thanks to this class. If you procrastinated you were embarrassed the next day when you had nothing to input to the conversation. It wasn’t just things I improved on that made the college class experience worthwhile. I am a rising senior in high school and I have written a 20 page research paper with footnotes and extensive bibliography in 3 weeks and read 6 books along the way as a real class. I know how to get around a college library and I fit right into the college environment. That in itself is my biggest accomplishment. Being able to have this college experience before I actually take off on my own.
One of the most important things I learned was about competition. This whole world runs on competition and it’s a matter of can you compete or not. I believe that with the ILC putting students from our area out to compete with the best it gives all of us who are applying to competitive colleges the hope and the confidence that we can compete with students who have pretty much everything handed to them. It is extremely hard to be accepted to a university. But, I learned it’s not about resume building. The college’s want that you are not who you think the colleges want. I learned you have to go after it, not matter what the obstacle is that is put in front of you. The best words of advice my professor gave me was let the college decide, don’t decide for the college. Go for it. The worst the can say is not right? And there are plenty of other colleges that would want you. Also, don’t think about the name of the school. You make the best out of wherever you go, even if it means a school you’ve never heard about. You make it what you want it to be. Before this trip, I wouldn’t have even considered any of this information true. You have to go out there and be yourself. That’s what the colleges ultimately want. They don’t want someone with a 5.0 and tones of community hours and 6 different school activities. They want an average student but one that stands out. They want someone who is dedicated but also knows how to be curious because they want you to be curious at their school. They want someone who is intelligent but not one that has SAT prep on their list of hobbies. In the end, the college will pick you but don’t ever decide for the college.
In the very beginning of the trip I realized that there are opportunities that people don’t even think of out here. I was very stubborn in thinking I already had my life planned out. I’m glad I took this trip because all the stories that I’ve told my friends, their response was that they should have gone. They should have tried harder to get in the program or they know that there are choices out there. My biggest push so far has been to my little sister. If I can convince her early that California is just one of a million places that offer colleges and choices in life, there is one person who can tell the younger generation. Most of my friends are eager to know about my experience, so there goes another way of sharing what I’ve learned. One at a time, this information will get out there.
I can’t thank everyone enough who was made this trip possible. To the sponsors, the administrators, my chaperone and my parents: thank you! You’ve given me the chance not only to see what else there is out there, but the chance for me to grow as a person. I’m happy to say that I am an ILC alum and I represent all of the students that wanted to but couldn’t go. This program opened doors for me that I never intended to open, but I’m glad it did. I told my mom before I left I wasn’t sad to leave and it’s true. I’ll be back Columbia.