Thursday, May 31, 2012

Awesome Alumni and Delicious Dining

To be honest, in anticipation of today, I was generally stressed out rather than excited about the Brown University dinner; this was because I met up with the rest of the Brown University ILC students as the BART train passed through Downtown Berkeley, two stops after they had gotten on, and I was worried that I was going to accidentally catch the wrong train or somehow not be able to find everyone. However, everything ended up working smoothly in terms of transportation, and as my dad and I entered the train car where everyone was sitting, I began to relax and look forward to the opportunity to talk to Brown alumni.

As my dad and I were waiting for the BART train, we had been discussing what types of questions would be good ones to ask an alumni of Brown, and I realized that I was quite curious to hear what people had to say about Brown and their experiences as undergrads of the university. While on the train, Don told my dad and I that alumni from varying graduating classes of Brown would be at the dinner, including new grads as well as older, experienced alumni. Don also told us a little bit about the restaurant - apparently it was ranked number one in the country just last week! With that information and my dad's claims that the restaurant had delicious food, I was excited to see what the restaurant had to offer, especially because I am generally a huge foodie.

We walked a few short blocks from BART to Boulevard, the restaurant where the dinner was to take place. As soon as we entered, we were all led down a flight of stairs into a separate room, where several alumni were already congregated and chatting over hors d'oeuvres and drinks. As soon as we arrived, everyone began to mingle with the alumni; Kelly, Emily, Nick, Ying-An and I talked with Blake about his experience at Brown. I learned that he studied neuroscience at Brown, and currently has a job at UCSF as a neuroscientist.  

Soon, everyone sat down at assigned seats, and the dinner officially began. I sat at a table with Anne, Emily Cain, Emily's mom, Peggy, Ynah, her dad, and my own dad. Everyone chatted and ordered dinner; I ordered the romaine salad, the halibut, and the sundae (all of which were delicious).

The program began with a few words from Madeline Kronenberg. She had nearly everyone in the room stand up and introduce themselves, and then moved on to the scheduled speakers. First, Simon Hong, a Brown alum, spoke about the Brown mentor program, which sounds like a great experience. This program gives high school students the opportunity to talk to alumni of Brown about high school, college, applications, and life in general. My friend Mariko participates in this program, and from what she has told me about it, the program is an excellent way to learn about college and talk to someone who has a lot of great advice to give. The second speaker was Andrew Gonzales, a former ILC student who is going to be attending Brown in the fall. I enjoyed hearing everything he said about ILC, and it sounds like his experience was really positive. After Andrew, Nick and Abby spoke about what they hoped to gain from doing ILC this year. Mr. Ramsey gave closing remarks while the entrees were being served, and everyone focused on their food and talking to the people at their table. 

At my own table, we discussed the benefits of Brown's open curriculum, the different academic programs offered at Brown, and what the "shopping period" for classes is, among other topics. I enjoyed talking to Peggy and Anne, who are both alumni of Brown and had a lot of interesting things to say about the school. 

After dessert and a tasty mint tea, Don gathered the alumni and the ILC students together for a group picture. 

Soon after the picture, everyone said farewells to the people they had met at the dinner. I walked out of the restaurant and strolled back to BART with my dad and Anne, who had to catch a train back to Livermore, and we talked a bit more about the ILC program. As I got on the train and returned home, I was happy with how the evening had turned out; I got to talk to several different people about Brown, and heard nothing but positive feedback about the school. From what I heard, it seems like Brown has a huge supportive community atmosphere as well, which is powerful in that it really allows students to work together and pursue their interests freely. I am looking forward to the summer, when I will be able to have my own experiences there. 

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