When Madelaine first approached us about applying for an Ivy League Connection scholarship, I have to admit, we were skeptical. The course, Women & Leadership at the Brown Leadership Institute, sounded like a natural for her, but we were dubious that this could be a full scholarship, and there was no way we could afford even part of an Ivy League summer program, much less transportation and all the other costs that immediately came to mind. As usual, Maddie had done her research, and presented us with details of the program. We were quickly convinced that this was an impressive opportunity for her.
Soon Maddie was diving into yet more research to write her thoughtful essays. She found out what was appropriate dress for an interview, and practiced answering sample questions slowly and clearly, despite her nerves. It was clear from the start how motivated she was to take advantage of this chance to study and travel on the East Coast this summer. When she was informed that she had earned a spot in the Women & Leadership cohort, she was elated, and so were we.
In the months that followed, Maddie had the opportunity to meet Brown alumni who were gracious and generous with their time and experience. During an elegant dinner at Boulevard, she met two recent graduates who had studied neuroscience, an area in which she is particularly interested. She also had the opportunity to hone her skills at polite dinner conversation and professional demeanor; valuable practice for a normally casual, “laid back” young woman.
The 3 weeks Maddie spent at Brown and touring other universities in the area were some of the most eye-opening weeks of her young life. We spoke or FaceTimed almost daily, and each day I could see her imagination expanding to consider new and different ideas and options for her future. She was exposed to a wide array of people and places. Her roommate was a young woman from Japan who lives in Indonesia. Her classmates were from Manhattan, Southern California, Guatemala—all over the world. Their diverse life experiences and perspectives gave Maddie a glimpse beyond the rather small town of El Cerrito. Her professor and the guests she invited to speak to and work with the cohort were exceptionally knowledgeable and kind.
Upon returning home, Maddie's commitment to implementing her Action Plan, the El Cerrito High School Young Voters' Club, has only grown stronger. She has been looking up resources and recruiting likely members and co-leaders even as she fine-tunes her newly expanded college applications list. This experience has given her a broader view of what is possible for her future—not just for college, but in her life. She has higher hopes and higher expectations as a result of her involvement in The Ivy League Connection and we are deeply indebted to Mr. Ramsey, Ms. Kronenberg, Mr. Gosney, and the patient and enthusiastic chaperones who all made this wonderful experience possible.
Anne-Marie and Tim Pine