With the sun glimmering off of our skin on a warm Wednesday evening, the Ivy League cohorts and I were mingling outside of Lovonya Dejean Middle School. While most humpdays are simple reminders that the mounds of work on one's table are due at the end of the week, this particular Wednesday was a reminder that being part of the Ivy League Connection is most certainly not a free vacation, but an honorary program in which the school district and sponsors see huge potential within the futures of its students.
Once we were all called inside, I saw the stage in the multi-purpose room filled with tables end-on-end with microphones beside each chair and a giant timer across a podium. This entire set-up felt as foreign as a South American jungle. It was my first time attending (let alone watching) a school board meeting, so I didn't know what to expect.
Little to my surprise, the main focus of the meeting was to recognize the ILC and its accepted students. Many of these faces were familiar and I was quite delighted to see some classmates in the program whom I didn't know were even in it.
Each chaperone went up to the podium to announce which group of the program they were representing and many of the insights and anecdotes these adults shared were entertaining to listen to. In fact, various alumni of the ILC went up to share their tales. Yueming Wang's experience at Cornell was perhaps the most memorable for me.
Amusingly enough, the fact that these courses will be very difficult has been drilled into our heads so many times that when Yueming went up to that podium and talk, I was already desensitized. It was enough that when she shared the specific struggles at Cornell, I simply shrugged my personal concerns of my class off of my shoulders.
When the sponsors were to be recognized as well, it actually shocked me that these were not corporations or large businesses that helped fund the program, but citizens who actively participate in the community.
It's not as if I did not have any appreciation for the Ivy League Connection prior to May 4, but when the meeting concluded, I left as a scholar who appreciated the program ten times more.