Thursday, May 13, 2010

Twenty Nine

The number twenty nine. The number twenty nine doesn't really stand out to me. I only notice it during leap years, but since it comes by every 4 years, it just makes it all the more easier to be forgotten. The evening of May 10th, 2010 however, changed that. Now, the number 29 symbolizes something so much more important and memorable in my life.

My mother and I entered Lovonya DeJean Middle School at around 6:15pm on May 10th, 2010. That night, the WCCUSD School Board wished to introduce to our county, the bright ILC students selected to travel to and study at prestigious Ivy League colleges in the East Coast this very summer.

As we searched for open seats, I noticed immediately my setting - a multi-purpose room that was slowly becoming more and more crowded as the minutes went by. Despite the forest of protest signs in the audience, it was clear that the main "stars" of this show was the Ivy League Connection. Who could miss noticing the bright smiles of the wonderful ILC students, dressed so professionally, as if they already had the world in their hands?

This was a wonderful and unforgettable night of honor. I cannot recall any other day in which I felt such a proud feeling coming from a room full of people. I could see it in the eyes of our parents, sponsors, the school board, and even those who have just heard of the program that night, that they were impressed with the ILC and its selected students. But their feelings I believe, may not have matched that of 29 particular individuals...

Proud. That would be one simple word I'd describe all of us that night. As for myself however, that single word just isn't enough. I am amazed, overjoyed, grateful, and perhaps even more.
I am amazed at how hard work and perseverance has led me in life. Currently, it has taken me to my newest and brightest destination, the ILC program, and soon, Cornell University. Someone from the crowd had told us: "You kids are here because you've EARNED it." This comment really struck a chord to me because I'll admit that I sometime doubt and/or question my own potential. But now, I am completely reassured: all 29 of us are here because of our hard work and devotion. We have crossed many barriers since December and now, we stand rightfully as the WCCUSD's official ILC ambassadors of 2010.

That very night had also been one of great joy. In addition to the smiles of my own and my fellow ILC peers, there were two groups that had smiles that stood out to me even more. The first one belongs to our parents and the second, to the school board. Mr. Ramsey especially, had one of the biggest smiles that evening, as each ILC group came up to be presented. Their love and support is what continues to be the very foundation of our stride to do our very best.

And of course, I can never leave out just how grateful and thankful I am. There are so many people to thank, but a simple "thank you very much" just isn't enough, no matter how many times we say it. I am thankful to the school board for approving our trip to the east coast. I am thankful for the support I've received from parents, friends, and alums. I am thankful to Ms. Lamons, Mr. Botello, and Mrs. Luerson - my teachers, whose assistance had major impact on my meeting here. I am thankful to our chaperons this year (especially our chaperon, Ms.Kaplan), for their endless dedication to their respected groups. I am thankful to the sponsors whom I finally got to see for the first time; it was such a wonderful opportunity to see the very people who have made our trip such a dream come true. I am thankful to Mr. Gosney, who has been working very hard with the ILC, whether it be sending out important emails to taking photos. And lastly, I am eternally grateful to Mr. Charles Ramsey and Mrs. Madeline Kronenberg. Without the both of you, I am positive the ILC would not be as great as it is today.

Speaking of which, I am very impressed with the state of the ILC this year. Despite our county being under these economic times, we still manage to uphold a new record of officially participating ILC students for this summer. What once started 5 years ago with 6 students and small recognition, has blossomed into, as Mr. Ramsey called it, an army of 29. The ILC itself has grown tremendously over this year. I will admit that in my freshman year, I heard nothing of the ILC, but now, this year's freshmen are well aware of this opportunity that would soon be coming their way in their upcoming sophomore year. Knowing how much the ILC has grown and how much more it can expand, I am extremely proud to be part of, in my opinion, one of the best programs in the nation.

I was also quite impressed when I found out that 7 of the 17 ILC students from last year, got accepted to Ivy League colleges. This 40% rate of acceptance triumphs over the nation's average of 10% of students who get into the Ivy League colleges they applied for. That, to me, is amazing. It tells me that students from our district is very capable of competing for a spot in the Ivy League schools. It tells me that it's not necessarily the school you come from or the environment of the classrooms, but the individual themselves. As long as we do our best, we can put ourselves as equals to the other students around the nation, as we all compete to win a spot in some of country's most prestigious colleges.

With only about a month to go, and a certificate that states my official participation in the ILC this year, I, Wing So, am proud to say that this summer, I will be attending Cornell University to study under Professor Kramnick and his "Freedom and Justice" Course!

1 comment:

  1. The 29 actually starts with 1. Each step we take starts with an individual. The collective only happens with each individual taking personal responsiblity to the whole. We are stronger because each person has "bought into" the collective and decided that being part of the Ivy League Connection is worthwhile.

    You see the big picture Wing, you are very insightful and you have a gift for writing. I am glad that you have a gift with the pen. Now do you have a gift for the spoken word. I need orators and people who will spread the "good word" about the ILC. It is disturbing when I read that you never heard of the program at Pinole Valley High School. This statement alarmed me. The ILC has been at Pinole Valley High School for four years. We have been very visible and have a lot of success.

    I hope that you can shed further light on how you will make the ILC more known at Pinole Valley High School and in the greater Pinole community. Now is the time to look within yourself and find out what it takes to actually create a college going culture at your school.

    Students who have come through the ILC have done well in getting accepted to Ivy League Schools. Last year we had five out of fourteen that were accepted. However, it should be noted that we still have a long way to go in terms of our students applying to highly selective colleges. Before we pat ourselves on the back we have to actually understand that other school districts have hundreds of students applying to Ivy League Schools and other highly selective schools.

    We are just beginning to make ourselves visible and patting ourselves on the back is probabbly good, but should be measured by the fact that our numbers are still rather small. I always believe that humility is the best approach in talking about our modest success.

    Yes, Twenty-Nine and hopefully growing. Only with your support as One can we expect the Ivy League Connection to reach more lofty heights.

    Take care.

    Charles T. Ramsey, Esq.
    School Board Member
    West Contra Costa
    Unified School District