Thursday, July 21, 2011

Thank You Forever

Cornell was magical, and anything I write here will never do it justice, but I shall try.

My experience with the ILC started in sophomore year, when I decided to apply since I had a couple of older friends who recommended it. It also just seemed like a “thing to do” for someone with good grades at my school. I applied and wrote essays for several schools before I was accepted by the ILC for the University of Pennsylvania program. I was not accepted by the actual school and ended up exploring other interests that summer. I applied for ILC again my junior year. Still, I was applying because I was being told it would be a great experience and because it seemed like the “thing to do.” But this time around, I was also applying because the whole thing scared me. I liked the feeling I got after going through the tough ILC interview sophomore year and I hoped I would succeed and feel that sense of accomplishment again.

I had never learned anything about hotels and business before, and I was pleased to realize that I get excited about subjects as different as environmental science, art, and hotel operations. This program gave me a taste of how much more is out there, how much more there is to get excited about. Besides all of the actual hotel and business concepts and the Microsoft Word and Excel concepts that I learned, besides the gorgeous universities I learned about and visited, besides the opportunity given to me to make friends from all over the world, yes, besides all of that, I learned to trust myself.

I didn’t think I was capable of living far away from my family. I had always seen myself as dependent, dependent in every way. But I thrived and I loved living away from home. I loved waking up in the morning and going to class because I wanted to. I loved doing little things like remembering to always check if I had my keys and if I had locked my door, because there was no one else to pick up the slack. I loved being able to walk out of my dorm room and walk to the library or to the art museum without having to tell anyone. I loved planning when I would study and when I would slip in fun time. This was all very exciting, and I am proud that I did it. I now know that I can do it. I realize Summer College is different from real college, and I know that real college will be much, much, much more difficult, but I now trust myself enough to know I will be okay.

To all future ILCers: This is what this program gives the students who participate in it. This is what you get from being in the ILC. You will like yourself more at the end of the program because you will be more confident. Again, remember that this is besides all of the other amazing things you are given, like dinners with admissions officers and college visits, tuition for class and support during every single aspect of this process. You will cry on the airplane ride back because you will not be able to wrap your head around how much people are willing to help and give you. The ILC likes to say that in return for all this, students have to blog and go to various ILC events. They like to say that that is “the catch.” It will not make sense to you how this is a balanced tradeoff because it isn’t. It really isn’t.

The actual course, Hotel Operations and Management, is beautiful in itself. You will adore your teachers Mark and Reneta and I am sure they will pick wonderful TAs like they did this year. Mark and Reneta are both incredibly dedicated to teaching you the basics of the hotel industry, and will do whatever it takes to answer your questions and make sure you understand. And you will want to understand! They love their craft, and it shows during lecture. They are also incredibly dedicated to you. They will have lunch with you, they will give you advice on applying for college, they will give you advice on life. They care. The TAs will have lunch with you. We even went bowling with our head TA. I'm sure any of the courses offered through the ILC will be taught by brilliant and beautiful people, as ours was, and that you will feel brilliant and beautiful for being a part of it. I'm sure that at all of them, you will meet people who are genuinely and completely in love with what they do. I don't know about you, but meeting people like that makes me so hopeful.

If you are scared to apply for ILC, that’s good. Do it anyways. Or better yet, do it because you’re scared. It’s beyond worth it. You will never regret it. These words won’t mean anything unless you go for it. (So go for it!) I will be talking to many of you prospective ILCers at the beginning of the coming school year- don’t hesitate to ask me any questions at the presentations that will be set up or anywhere when I see you!

Yueming Wang called her ILC experience “life-changing.” Mine certainly was. Seriously. These 3 and a half weeks have been so significant to my life, I can’t even comprehend.

I have probably blogged about this before, but the most significant and invaluable lesson I learned from this entire experience is that people are so much better at adapting and finding ways to be happy then they give themselves credit for. Granted, it didn’t take much to be happy at Cornell. But on a personal level, the sheer freshness of this experience and the happiness that came with it made me realize that I can do anything, anything I want. And I can be happy doing it.

Attending Cornell Summer College as part of the ILC made my experience all the better. It introduced the new dynamic of having to make friends while keeping “old” friends from ILC, many of whom I had actually only met a short time before. I was also lucky to be there with our chaperone Ms. Tiffany Neal. Even though I loved the independence, it was nice to know that she was there for us. She also took us places during the weekend and was amazing to talk to. She is a very warm and accepting and beautiful person who gave loads of great advice during this trip.

I will definitely be applying to Cornell for college this coming fall. I also got to experience “that feeling” for the first time when we were at Northwestern. This feeling I am referring to is the one you get when you can definitely see yourself going to a particular school. I got that at Northwestern, and now I know what to look out for when I visit other schools.

Thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you times a million, ILC. Thank you Mr. Ramsey, and Ms. Kronenberg, and Don. Thank you to our sponsors. Thank you, thank you. Thank you Ms. Neal. Thank you, WCCUSD. Thank you WCCUSD School Board, for caring enough to make sure students are part of a college-going culture and for allowing students to help make that college-going culture. Thank you, Ms. Ishmael of Hercules High School. Thank you to all the teachers at Hercules High School.

Thank you Mark and Reneta. Thank you to our TAs Gorka, Shuang, Sam, Patrick, Chelsea, Brandon, MacKenzie and Karli. Thank you to the friends I made at Cornell and the people who just said hi to me in the dorms. Thank you to Joe, Vivi, Nick, Taylor, Kevin, Jobel and Kelly.

Thank you to every single person who has touched this program or who has touched me during this program. Thank you.

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