Before the meeting commenced, every cohort was given the chance to meet with their chaperone. It was my first time meeting Mr. Mannix in person. Not only did we get the pleasure of getting to know him, but he was able to tell us a little bit more about our upcoming plans. It was then when we found out we'd be spending the fourth of July in our nation’s capital and visit the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University, and Georgetown University before we actually start our courses. My level of excitement dramatically increased from hearing about our jam packed schedule.
Once the meeting started, I began to feel anxious about appearing before the School Board. A couple days prior to the meeting, we were all sent out emails for the specifics. At first, it seemed like any other email coming from Don. But as I was reading through his message, I realized that my name came up. It turned out that I was chosen to speak on behalf of my cohort. Although I’ve been a part of my school’s Speech and Debate team since my freshman year, I still had a sense of butterflies flying inside my stomach as I delivered my speech. Unlike other ambassadors, I had no preparation whatsoever. I planned on being as spontaneous and with as much emotion as possible without sounding not put together.
Since the programs went by alphabetical order, my cohort was one of the last groups to come up. Listening to each of my colleagues’ speeches, I only hoped that I could deliver just as good of a speech. Then it came time for my cohort to stand up and move towards the front of the room. Right after my chaperone Mr. Mannix introduced us before the school board, it was my cue to come up to the microphone. With nothing prepared to guide me throughout my speech, I truly did speak from the heart. What comforted me afterwards was when a fellow ambassador congratulated me on my speech. Feeling nervous about my delivery, I was happy by the fact that someone who I didn’t exactly know enjoy my speech.
As we heard from several people who make the Ivy League Connection possible, one thing that struck me most was hearing from previous ambassadors who now attend prestigious universities on the East Coast. With each alumnus from Pinole Valley, it gave me a sense of hope that my trip this summer doesn’t just have to end then. Because of the ILC, I have started to look at four year universities outside of the University of California System. Nothing frightens me more than to leave the Bay Area, but through this opportunity, I hope to push myself even further out of my comfort zone.
Most students from out district set their sights on the UC system and nothing more. I was one of them. But because of the Ivy League Connection, students from across the district are given an opportunity to bring back hope to their community that the West Contra Costa Unified School District’s students can do so much more if they just believed. Not many students think that they’re good enough to set high bars for themselves. But with several students from our district going on to Yale, UPenn, and Cornell, I believe our district has proven them wrong.
As the school board adjourned for a recess so that we could take this year’s ILC photo, I could see my mother talking to my principal from my elementary and middle school. Although I saw her before the meeting began, I wasn’t sure whether or not I should greet her. After all those years and all those familiar faces, I never thought she could remember who I was. She not only greeted me with open arms, but was ecstatic by my selection into the program. I can only hope that I can use my experience to inspire my peers in reaching for what they never thought was possible.