Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Good Bye and Good Night

If there is one thing that I learned from my Freedom and Justice TA, Simon, it's that you want readers to know exactly what you're talking about as soon as they get into your paper. There's no point in dilly-dallying with historical background and there is no point in explaining the mere content of your paper. You need to start with a strong point, a thesis if you will, and then build the rest of the paper off of that.

Thank you Simon.

Thesis: Cornell Summer College was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I learned about the basis of all modern political thought in my Freedom and Justice course and I learned about how important it is to be independent in the college world. I learned that friends are a vital part of the college experience but also learned that when you have those friends you need to learn how to balance work and play. This trip to Cornell University has made me more responsible with my choices, more confident in my ability to handle myself, and more excited to get to college and do this whole thing all over again.

I guess I should start from the beginning. When my school's staff first informed me that they would like me to participate in this program called the Ivy League Connection, I kind of just heard their offer as, "Hello. We know you've been working really hard all Junior year, but when summer comes around and you finally get some time to relax, how would you like to go participate in one of the most rigorous classes of your life?". To be honest, if my brother hadn't participated in the ILC and told me that it was amazing, I probably wouldn't have done it.

Thank God he had.

As I said before, this adventure taught me more than just the ideas of Locke and Marx and what-not. It taught me a lot of personal lessons that I'm sure will help me in the long run. First of all, it taught me how to discipline myself. With all of the distractions available to you at a beautiful place like Cornell, it can be hard to sit in one spot and write a paper on Plato's views of Athenian democracy. However, when you begin to understand that that paper is important, and that you don't have any parents around telling you that you need to do your work, that's when you start to realize that you should probably become your own parent (figuratively speaking) and tell yourself to get that paper done. That was a skill that I picked up very quickly (because if I didn't I probably would have failed the class) and I am sure that I will be able to use that skill in any aspect of my daily life. I guess in a way, this skill goes hand-in-hand with being proactive and making sure that I get all of my work done before I engage in any leisurely activities.

On the other hand, I also learned that breaks are important! Sometimes it's more than just
"hard" to finish that Plato paper in one sitting; it's impossible. The key here is to work as hard
as you can, for as long as you can, and then when you feel yourself starting to fade off, that's
when you can go say hey to a friend or play a quick game of basketball, or even do something as
small as taking a quick Facebook break. As long as it is something that you are actually
interested in, I find that it will allow your brain to refocus so you can get back to work on
something that you really don't want to be doing. The biggest part is just making sure that you
actually come back to finish the work.

These, I can assure you, are only a few of the many lessons that I learned through the ILC.
All of these new life skills that I have picked up I'm sure will help me with any kind of schooling
that I will ever encounter and also just with my people-skills in general. Another lesson that I
learned through my TA, Simon, was to be patient and accept criticism with an open mind. That
skill will definitely come in handy whenever I am working with others, which I have to do
frequently in school, sports, and even at home, and I am just excited to know that I now have
the ability to really listen to other people.

Now that the trip is over, however, I need to start looking towards the future. All of our
college tours helped me realize exactly what aspects I want my college to have (good sports, big
city nearby, and as little snow as possible) and so I will be that much more prepared when
college apps come around. I will know what I am looking for and I will know the main areas
that I should look at. Right now, I would say the top choice is UCLA but Northwestern is now
running a close second (even with the snow).

All in all, this journey to Cornell was incredible. I got more out of it than I possibly could
have imagined and I am so excited to share my newfound knowledge throughout the bay area.
We Cornellians are now planning a service learning project, which will take place some time
this fall, where we will go to different high schools and give tips on how to write an essay and on
how to carry yourself during an interview (just like we had to do for the ILC application

I truly cannot thank the leaders of the ILC enough for providing me with this life-changing
opportunity, and the same goes for the sponsors of the ILC for making this all possible. As the
beneficiary of your guys' contributions, I would like to say that your time and money did not go
to waste. I gained skills that will help me throughout the rest of my life and I have absolutely
become a better person through this experience. Your example drove home for me the value
of investing in your community.

Thank you all for reading my blogs and supporting me throughout my entire journey with
the ILC. I hope you all have enjoyed reading my posts and although this will be my last one, I'm
sure you will all be able to keep up with me through the media when I become famous.

Thank you all very, very, much. This was truly the experience of a life-time.

Good bye, and good night.

Everything Seemed Far Away

The transition back to life at home felt much easier than I thought it would feel, and honestly, this isn't what I want to be feeling.

While I was at Cornell, I obviously didn't look forward to missing the place, the people, and the class when I got home. I didn't look forward to having a difficult time adjusting back to life without Hotel Management and Operations class. But struggling seems better than what I am doing now, which is adjusting perfectly.

Yesterday I walked to the same spot I was at on the day I left for Chicago. It felt like everything that happened since that day I left had floated away to somewhere very far. It was easy to remember the day I left and it is easy to be aware of being here at home, but it isn't easy to remember being at Cornell. Well, no, that's not completely true.

It surprises me how clearly I can imagine walking to class and walking towards the second floor Donlon bathroom and climbing the steps up to the third floor of RPCC for breakfast. These memories are all very clear and very accessible in my mind, but they still seem extremely distant.

The day I arrived back in California, I was surprised at the airport by four of my friends who had decided to come see me. My parents and my sister had brought my puppy Basil, who went crazy upon being held by me. When I arrived home, there was a huge colorful poster hanging on the stairway banister that said "Welcome Home and Happy 17th Birthday!" and a pretty homemade cake sitting on the table in front of it. It was touching and I was glad to be home, but already I had started to feel the distance between myself and Cornell.

Cornell On My Mind

I must admit being home has been a bit odd. I have really missed Professor Kramnick’s class and hanging out with all my friends, but I do enjoy being home.

Over these last couple days of being home I have had time to think about what the ILC and Cornell Summer College experience has meant to me. And I must tell you all now that the experience I had this summer changed me for the better.

I owe the ILC a huge thank you. For those of you who are unaware of the process of being an ILC student here is how it worked for the Cornell kids. First we had to write an essay about vandalism and the meaning and/or impact it has on us. After our essays were read we went through an interview process with four questioners and Don filming us. Then the questioners made the cuts and called us out of class to tell us who would be going to Cornell that summer. I must say the entire process pushed me pretty hard. I was very motivated to be part of the ILC and thus tried my hardest to prove that I should be one of the kids going. I must say that the interview portion of the picking process was the scariest for me. I have two parents in the working world who have told me that public speaking is the key to life (more or less), but the interview was still terrifying. That is not saying that the people who were questioning me were scary, they were actually very nice, but what was scary was having to think of an answer that you thought would set you apart from the others in a positive manner.

After being chosen, you (as an ILC student) are obligated to keep being the best you you can be. You attend meeting and dinners and are always on your best behavior. I had never had to blog before, and I have learned a lot about myself through my blog. It is interesting to see the blogs from the beginning and then the later ones and see the new Taylor that has grown from this whole experience. If you read the blogs from the beginning of my ILC ‘career’ you would find a more shy and timid girl, now I am more out going and confident and I owe a lot of that to the ILC for giving me this chance to grow.

As I think back on my time at Cornell I am speechless. I honestly cannot believe that I, Taylor Doty, was chosen to go take a class for three weeks at one of the top universities in the nation. It is a great feeling knowing that I was smart enough and capable enough to compete with students from all over the world for a spot at Cornell this summer. It give me the confidence to try and compete with those kids and more kids for a spot that the university for the next four years of my life. I had only really considered Cornell because it is an Ivy League school and would be a great place to say I went, but now I would actually like to attend Cornell. I have learned a lot about what I want to get out of college and know now that if I put my mind to it I can do it.

I blogged about it when it happened, but I feel the need to state it again and give another HUGE thank you to the ILC for this opportunity; as I mentioned in a blog a while ago I met the assistant coach for the Cornell Women’s Soccer team. She met with me for an hour and we talked about their program and what I would have to do to be a constant for the team. I would never have gotten the opportunity to sit one-on-one with some like her if I had not been in the position I was in. As some of you may know I am considering playing soccer in college and would love to play for Cornell.

I really must say that no matter how many times I type or even think the words thank you it wouldn’t be enough. The ILC has opened a door for me that I may have never tried to open on my own. I have learned the world is what I make it. That nothing can stop me from getting what I want as long as I stay focused and push through every and anything that gets in my way.

Thank you ILC members for giving me this summer opportunity. Thank you for pushing me in the right direction. Thank you for opening a new door for me. Thank you for believing in me and thus making me believe in myself. Thank you for sending me to Cornell this summer.

Over and Out blog readers.