Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Great Equalizer

Nelson Mandela once wrote, “Education is the great engine of personal development. It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that the son of a mineworker can become the head of a mine, which a child of a farm worker can become president.”

This is the quote I had scribbled on a scrap of paper as my mother and I rushed out the door to appear at the school board meeting. Nobody had asked me to speak but at Don’s Bloggers Tutorial, he fervently reminded us that Mr. Ramsey often asks people to say a few words at a moment’s notice. If called upon I planned to describe how the ILC acts as the great equalizer Mandela speaks of and what the ILC program means to me.

We arrived at the LaVonya DeJean Middle School Multi Purpose room where all of the students in the program were asked to gather outside while the chaperones chatted and waited for everyone to arrive. Although it had been an exceedingly hot day, I was nonetheless excited because it was the first time I had the opportunity to introduce myself and get to know students from some of the other Ivy League Connection Programs. Despite Taylor Doty being a fellow El Cerrito High School Student, I had never previously had the opportunity to formally meet her because we both have busy class schedules and El Cerrito is such a large campus.

Within seconds, I could tell how she was selected to participate in this prestigious, rigorous program. She had a tremendous presence and a vocabulary far beyond her years. Furthermore, she blows the idea that high school students can’t handle frequent, college length tests out of the water; she has 3 AP tests and the SAT on four consecutive days.

Suddenly, we were briefly told what to expect inside the meeting, and I walked inside with the rest of the Columbia Cohort. When it was our turn to be introduced as a group, I started developing the conclusion of my potential speech in my head.

“Remember to thank the board and the sponsors!” I reminded myself.

Ultimately, I was not asked to give a surprise speech. However, Beulah Agbabiaka, who attended the Presidential Powers Program last year, delivered an eloquent speech that I can only hope to try to make my future speeches resemble. Beulah discussed all of the doors the ILC opened for her and warned us that the class we were taking will be painstakingly challenging, but enormously rewarding as well. Most importantly, she remembered to thank the board and the sponsors; she even thanked her mother for her support.

After all of the groups had been introduced we took a large group photo. I also had some time to personally thank Mr. Ramsey, Mrs. Kronenburg, and a few of the sponsors. Everyone I spoke to and heard from got me more and more excited for the upcoming trip.

On the way out of the Multi Purpose Room doors, I wondered what doors the ILC will open for me down the road.

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