Thursday, May 31, 2012

An Unforgettable Night

Left column: main dishes; middle column: (top) table settings
(bottom) wall art; right column: desserts
This evening, I attended the Brown dinner at Boulevard Restaurant in San Francisco with all the Brown Session I and II cohorts, chaperones, sponsors, alumni, and future alumni. It was an amazing experience for me, and truly an honor to be able to be around all those successful people and converse with them. The restaurant was very fancy (not to mention the extremely appetizing food that they served.) At least one, ILCer, alumni, and future alumni gave a speech tonight. Overall, it was a great opportunity for everyone to test their social skills and get more acquainted to the school and the program.

Besides Don, I was the first to arrive at the El Cerrito Plaza BART station. After digging through the wallet to find a crispy bill that the machine would accept, my mom and I finally got our two tickets. After another half hour or so, the station was full of guys in suits and girls in dresses. We all got off at the Embarcadero station and took in some fresh air before we started walking to the restaurant. The walk was very short, and before we knew it, we were standing in front of the doors of Boulevard Restaurant. 

We walked into the restaurant and were led to a room downstairs where we would hold our privately reserved dinner. As I walked into the room, the whole idea of talking to all the sponsors and alumni was extremely intimidating. I shook hands with a few of the sponsors and regrettably "retreated" to a corner. It wasn't until Mrs. Kaplan encouraged me to speak with two of the alumni that I came out of my comfort zone. It actually turned out to a great conversation. They told us about what Brown is like and gave us some interesting tour spots that we should visit while we're there. During this, Mr. Ramsey was frantically trying to scatter our seating arrangement for the dinner so we would be able to talk with more new people. 

(Left to right) Kelly Xi, Blake Gurfein, Ying-An Wang, and me

We finally got seated, we made a quick exchange of introductions. I sat with Kelly Xi, Ying-An Wang (both who are going to take the DNA Biotech. course), and their parents. We were also accompanied by Simon Hong and Blake Gurfein who were both Brown alumni. They both graduated together as the class of 2005. After table introductions, we started expanding. Ms. Kronenberg decided to do a breakout session where each person would stand up and provide a brief introduction of themselves. Surprisingly, you can learn a lot from a one minute introduction. 

Simon and I
After the break out session, we started to chat around the dinner table. I was more engaged with Simon during the dinner than with Blake, because he sat next to me. Simon majored in economics while he was in Brown. He is currently a senior research analyst at Ironwood Capital Management here in San Francisco. Simon was really great. He told me about all these amazingly great opportunities that were out there for me, and some tips that I could take with me down my academic road. He shared some of his college experiences in Brown to us and towards the end of the dinner, we talked about financial aid and even about our favorite sports teams. 

Top to Bottom-Left to Right: Andrew Gonzales, Simon Hong, Charles
Ramsey, Nick Shebek, Abigail Serrano
During the dinner, we also had speeches among the alumni, soon-to-be alumni, ILC cohorts, and Mr. Ramsey. Simon spoke on behalf of the Brown alumni, Andrew Gonzales represented as a future graduate of Brown University, and Nick Shebek and Abigail Serrano spoke on behalf of the Brown cohorts. They all gave amazing speeches that really just contributed to the whole theme of the dinner. The dinner concluded with Don's usual dozen snapshots of our beautiful faces. It truly was, and will remain to be, an unforgettable night. 

In reflection, I think that this dinner has been the most diverse and interesting milestone event out of the rest. I was able to get out of my social shell and actually talk to a lot of new people. Everyone was very open and friendly, and it just made it really comfortable for me to talk to them. I learned so much about the importance of connections, a proper education, learning from mistakes and experience, taking advantage of opportunities, and just taking on challenges. Though my actual journey hasn't yet begun, I still feel myself taking progressive steps up the stairs of growth, one by one. By the end of this experience, I know I'll be able to reach the top of these stairs and discover the true potential of my abilities. But until then, I will walk down this freshly paved road that the ILC has created for me and make the best of it. 

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