Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A Fancy Dinner and New Information

The dinner was, to say the least, eye-opening.

After travelling on BART and a quick walk to Prospect, the restaurant in San Francisco where our dinner was held, our Chicago cohort soon met and talked to University of Chicago alumni and sponsors who met us there.
Dinner at Prospect

William K. Holsman
The first person I had a conversation with was William K. Holsman, a lawyer and University of Chicago alumnus. He told me how he worked for the Navy before attending UChicago, how rigorous the University’s education system is, and how UChicago changes regular, ignorant students into intellectuals. He also told me that the University of Chicago supplies students with original manuscripts of people such as Thomas Hunt Morgan, allowing students to read life-changing breakthroughs firsthand, allowing students to independently formulate their own ideas about major discoveries.

When I asked what he majored in, he explained that when he attended UChicago, he (as well as Dr. Norman Lewak, a pediatrician) participated in a different undergraduate system put into effect by Robert Maynard Hutchins. In that program, Mr. Holsman took several general education classes and took exams to pass (I believe he said the requirement was 14) then specialized in law.

Before tonight, I had never heard of the Hutchins program. It was interesting to find out about the program and see the differences between the University of Chicago today and the University of Chicago about 60 years ago.

Elspeth Michaels
I talked to other alumni afterwards, two of which were Elspeth Michaels and Andrew Stevens. Elspeth told me her experience at UChicago—how she visited and just knew it was the place for her (which she assured me would be one of the ways I’d determine which college is right for me), how her Art History major helped her determine her art preferences, and how much she loved it at UChicago. She, as well as Andrew Stevens and Dr. Michael Lowenstein, elaborated on the dorm life they experienced. They were separated into houses, much like Hogwarts students are separated into houses in Harry Potter (in fact, many things in UChicago are Harry Potter-esque. Students have castle-like dorms [besides other modern dorms], are separated into houses, and have the phoenix as their mascot).

Soon everyone sat in their respective spot at the tables. I shared a table with Ms. Kronenberg, Reginald Terrell, who is a lawyer as well as a sponsor and panelist for the ILC, Dr. Michael Lowenstein, a psychiatrist who graduated from UChicago in 1981, Elspeth Michaels, who now works for UChicago and graduated in 2009, Jimmy, Mr. Guerra, and my dad.

Andrew Stevens
We talked about the University of Chicago’s exciting dorm life, the uniqueness and quirkiness of UChicago, places in Chicago to definitely visit (such as Shedd Aquarium and Millennium Park), and other topics.

Besides Chicago-related topics, we covered various others—the way certain college admission committees function, how much work ILC panelists have to do, the pros and cons of businesses requiring employees’ Facebook passwords, and more.

All in all, it was a great evening. Alexa, Simon Cohen, and Mr. Ramsey’s speeches were inspiring, as was the letter we received from Ms. Judith Blackwell. I learned about Chicago and the University of Chicago, what to expect there, and heard firsthand of the experiences of several alumni. As Ms. Kronenberg and Dr. Lowenstein pointed out, it was the first time alumni who graduated about 60 years ago attended the ILC dinner. That’s a new record—it shows how much people who have attended the University of Chicago love it there.

There are several other sponsors, alums, and special guests I had the privilege to meet that I haven’t mentioned (such as Sewellyn Kaplan, Tammy Spath, and others). Everyone I talked to tonight had a new piece of information or advice that I had yet to hear. The food was absolutely delicious, and paired with the people I was surrounded with, it made for a great evening.

A New Beginning

Chicago Alumni, my cohorts and me holding the Chicago flag.

I just got back from the best dinner in my life at Prospect restaurant, in San Francisco , but I hope it won't be the first or last one. When I said dinner, I am referring to the food that's why is worth its price. The steak was pretty good, but what really made my tummy happy was the rocky road sundae dessert. It was the best sundae I have ever tried. It came with chocolate ice cream, Tahitian vanilla, and dark chocolate accompanies with marshmallows, chocolate covered almonds, and balsamic caramel. Well enough with the food and let's get down to business.

First of all, I want to thank the sponsors, School Board members, our chaperon, Ramsey and finally Don for this opportunity to represent not just only the program but my district and community. For making possible for my cohorts and me to have this opportunity and to be the first one to go Chicago to show them where we come from, who we are and to know about us, that we are dedicated students trying to reach for the stars and land in the moon. As one of the members of the ILC mentioned it when he introduced himself. This inspiring quote reminds me of a quote by Paul Brandt that goes, “Don't tell me the sky is the limit when there are footprints on the moon.” I love this quote because there are two meanings for it. One is that there is a whole world out there waiting for you and staying in the same place can make you lose the chance to explore and meet new people around the world. Another meaning is that you need to challenge yourself and always have high self expectations or goals.

Lets come back to the dinner now. We were all suppose to be at BART of El Cerrito Plaza no later than 5:20 PM. Myself along with my cohorts were ready around 5:30 PM and we managed to catch and early train which was very convenient because the more earlier we get there the faster we get out. During my ride on the train, on my way to the Prospect restaurant, I got to mingle with Josephine mom which was very interesting because we talked about her experienced the first time she ride on an airplane and she traveled on the airplane for more than 25 hours. Oyins' mom took off first from Nigeria, where she's from. After taking off from Nigeria it took her 10 hours to arrive in London were she waited four hours. When the four hours passed, she then took off from London to San Francisco for a total of 15 hours. We started talking about airplane because I told her that this was my first time for everything meaning; get to travel on an airplane, first time getting out of the state, first time visiting Chicago and the list keeps on going. This is all possible because of ILC.

Josephine With my dad
When we arrived at our destination, we needed still to walk a few blocks to get to the Prospect restaurant. It took us at least 5 minutes or less to arrive at the restaurant and that's where Alie, my chaperon, was waiting for us at the front of the restaurant. When everyone went inside the restaurant, one of the server took us where the dinner was going to be held at. Ramsey was finishing the last touches on getting the table organized with name tags. After a couple of minutes the alumni started coming in and we started introducing to them and exchanging basic information such as my name, what school I go to, and what course am I going to take in the summer. In the beginning I was not mingling with the alumni because they were already talking to some of my cohorts and I did not want to be rude and get in their conversation. Alie I saw that I was not interacting with other people and she gave me three good question to start a conversation. That was very helpful for me because I am not very good at starting conversations.

We waiting at least half and hour until we were told that the tables were ready and we can start sitting down. In my table I was sitting with two alumni they were Elspeth and with Michael . With Reginald one of the sponsors of the ILC. Last but not least with Madeline, Eleazer (Danis' dad) and Dani. Elspeth gave me some recommendations of what places I should go visit in Chicago. Elspeth graduated from the University of Chicago in 2009 with a major in arts. Michael graduated in the year of 1981 at Chicago with a major in chemistry.

After, the food was served and my cohort Alexa gave a speech about how this program is helping her and what's the goals for this program. The speech that really inspired me was Ramsey speech because i could of tell that he was speaking with his heart. My favorite part of the speech was when he said that you have to believe in yourself and with confident you can go way bigger than you're dreams and you will show the people who doubted you since day one that you can do or be what ever you want.

This dinner gave me the sensation of unbelievable because I still can't believe that I am very lucky to go to Chicago and that this is really going to happen. To have this opportunity to go travel and visit others colleges. To open our eyes that there are a lot more opportunities out there for you.

Thank you for all the people that were available to go to the dinner it really means a lot to me that I can share this precious moments with all of you.

Food, Fun, and Alumni

Tonight was a very exciting night for me. I attended a dinner at Prospect in San Francisco along with my Chicago cohorts. In attendance at this dinner was one of our parents, sponsors, alumni, School Board members, our chaperon, and special guests. At this dinner, we got to meet those who were able to make this trip a possibility for us and we also got the opportunity to meet University of Chicago alumni who were able to shed light on what our experience might be like.

A couple of the alumni shared with us what life in the University of Chicago is like. A really interesting thing that most of the alumni told me is that the dorm rooms looked like the dormitories in the Harry Potter movies. Being a Harry Potter fanatic, I am really excited to be able to say, "I slept in a Harry Potter style dorm room." I also learned that the weather is either really hot or freezing cold, there never seems to be an in between weather that we are so lucky to have here in the Bay Area. Apparently summer is a really nice time to go to Chicago because everybody is really happy that it isn't freezing. Along with sharing what the rooms are like, the alumni gave us advice about college in general. The biggest piece of advice that stuck to me was given to me by Andrew Stevens who graduated in 2012. Andrew told me that it was alright if I went into college not knowing what I wanted to do, and he also advised me to take an intro class in whatever it is that I am interested in so that I know weather I actually like that subject or not.

At a point during the evening, the dinner conversation turned into places that I must visit when I am in Chicago. On that list is the Art Institute of Chicago and the Oriental Institute Museum. Of course restaurants were suggested and Uno's pizza was suggested by Simon Cohen, soon to be a University of Chicago alumni. As a fun challenge, Tammy Spath told me that I have to choose my favorite gargoyle from the University of Chicago. Hopefully I'll be able to pick one that I really like.

During the dinner, we had Mr. Ramsey come up and speak to us about how this Chicago program arose. He shared with us that he was going through tough times but he decided that he wouldn't mope around and he would try to do something productive and that would benefit others. This led to him traveling to Chicago and forming a relationship with the school which in turn allowed them to offer the Ivy League Connection scholarships to the University of Chicago for their summer programs. This taught me that sometimes we need to not dwell too long on whatever hardships that we are facing and that it is also important to push through during tough times so that we can do something wonderful for those around you. Without Mr. Ramsey pushing through his tough time and traveling to Chicago, I wouldn't have this opportunity to attend the University of Chicago, and personally, I am extremely thankful that he made that decision.
Chicago Group Photo
I can honestly say that this evening made me realize even more how incredible it is that me and my Chicago cohorts are able to visit the University of Chicago this summer. Without the support of everyone who attended this dinner tonight, this trip would not be possible. Everyone there in one way or another made a sacrifice so that this could be possible. Everyone in that room wants to see us succeed and are willing to help us in any way to make it possible for us. I feel like the amount of times I say "thank you" isn't anywhere near enough to show my gratitude for the group of people who made all of this doable. One day, I hope that all of these people will see through my actions how truly grateful I am.