An auditorium packed with community members and supporters greeted us Wednesday night. We were the first act to follow the emotional appeals by adult education advocates which had started off this memorable evening. Our cohort stood together before the WCCUSD School Board. A corner of our Brown banner in hand, I smiled, feeling the tremendous energy of community support and pride.
There was no reason to be nervous, when I was familiar with the fact that everyone present wished us success. Our community was here to help and to share personally with us on this collective journey. With the ILC, it has always been just as much about this community's involvement as our own individual perseverance to bring us here today. Our support system, from our families and friends, to the active citizens whose hard work makes our community what it is, to the innovators and sponsors of our award-winning Ivy League Connection program, made it all possible.We are very much the products of this backbone's unwavering dedication.
It reiterated the sentiments I experienced at the Hercules City Council meeting the previous night. As our Hercules representatives lined up to express our gratitude, I found myself continually amazed by the people the ILC involves. We all spoke about bringing an impact back to the community, but it was also right there in the room. The ILC's impact was evident in Jobel's meaningful speech, the return of Teri and Beilul, the joy and pride on our audience's faces, and the council's exhortation that we return to become the future leaders of our city.
Perhaps the best examples were in the alumni's speeches at the school board meeting. Austin and Terilyn were just two of many whose lives were profoundly changed by the ILC. The passion in Austin's delivery was beyond inpiring. Then there was Teri.
This was the same girl who'd, just a year before, stood next to me nervously as we faced our first school board meeting and were recognized by the city council together, who'd rapped Nicki Minaj with me on the plane, who'd explored Lake Beebe with me in Cornell, who'd shared my enthusiasm for the Ithaca Farmer's Markets and froyo. That night my Harvard-bound Bananagrams partner's magnetism, charisma, insight, and shining personality radiated. When she reaffirmed that the ILC "really does work," I imagined all the possibilities which this community has made possible for my future.