Monday, November 19, 2012

Wins and Losses

I'll admit, I was a little bit nervous about going to the Raider's game with all the mentors; it had been so long since I was at an ILC event and I was concerned that my social skills had evaporated, due to long periods of seclusion while working on my college applications.

There was, of course, nothing to fear. As soon as the ice was broken, thanks to some delicious gumbo, everyone fell right back into the swing of things. The Raider's box was certainly different than most of the ILC settings I was used to, but it was still incredibly luxurious. There was really no better place to watch the Raiders miss pass after pass after pass. And of course, the company was even better. I got to talk for a long time with Corynn Brodsky, after coming on the BART with her and her sister, as well as Emily, Kelly, Ying-An, Don, and Mrs. Kronenberg. I also had the pleasure of sitting next to Simon for a good portion of the game.

It's a really scary, and important, time of my life right now, and I continuously find myself overwhelmed with all of the life decisions I have to make.  What do I want to do when I grow up? Where should I apply? Who's going to ask me to prom? All these questions, and so few answers. Thanks to my mentors a good portion of these fears (excepting the date conundrum) can be lessened, if not alleviated.

It's the season to be thankful , and I know that I am so grateful to both my mentors and the mentor program.  I had an amazing time at the game, though slightly petrified of the fans, and I do feel much more at ease with the college process with some advice from my mentors. Though the team may not have won, I certainly felt like I came home victorious.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Back from Brown

I thought my three weeks at Brown this summer went by quickly but that was nothing compared to the length of this trip. While the days were long and full, the trip itself went by in heartbeat. However, the things I learned in that short period time will help me for the rest of my life. While the skills I gained last weekend will most immediately improve and progress my Action Plan, the tactics for talking to administration and giving an elevator pitch will be of use to me through my college career and in to my professional life. 

The workshops on fundraising and stress management will help me take my Action Plan (The Young Voters Club at El Cerrito High School) in a new direction now that the election is over. I hope to raise money for my club to go on field trips as well donate to nationwide organizations promoting the youths' vote. Stress management is invaluable at a time like this (senior year of high school) so the skills I learned in that workshop are bound to help me in prioritizing and completing work to the best of my ability. These goals of course, wouldn't be possible without time management and thankfully there was a lecture about effective time usage at the Symposium as well. 

While all the skills I have mentioned will benefit my club and the rest of my high school experience, they will also not be wasted in college. Another thing I learned at the Symposium was that all the students that spoke with us had been greatly impacted by their time in the Brown Leadership Institute and continued to thrive academically because of their experiences prior to college. All the workshops I attended this past weekend continue to be an advantage going in to college. 

Finally, I can extend these skills to my peers and help other stressed students realize healthy ways to deal with an overwhelming work load or bad feelings about college applications because the other thing I that I was reminded of while back at Brown was that not all students are as fortunate as I am. Despite that, they still need practical and efficient ways to approach school work so I hope I can spread my new knowledge to my peers in addition to improving my Action Plan and successfully applying to college.

I am so grateful to the Ivy League Connection for giving me the means to go back to the East Coast for another two enriching days on the Brown campus and another educational campus tour. Since my first experience with ILC my eyes have opened to the possibilities after high school. I want to thank Ms. Kronenberg for accompanying us on this trip, Don Gosney for keeping everything organized and Mr. Ramsey, as well as Ms. Kronenberg, for starting such a crucial program in the West Contra Costa Unified School District. 

Brown Symposium for Social Action 2012


During the time management workshop
The Leadership Symposium this past weekend was absolutely amazing. In just two full days, l gained skills that will serve me for the rest of my life. Each workshop and panel provided me with new tactics to overcome obstacles related to my action plan. Through the panels, I had the opportunity listen to young people who were successful in achieving their goals regarding social change in their community and the outside world. Learning ways make my action plan a reality and then listing to actual young people who were successful enabled me to gain motivation. Now that I have no doubt that I am capable of starting a garden at El Cerrito High, I want to move forward with my plan as quickly as possible.

A main focus on the last day of the Symposium was time management. After learning tactics to achieve my action plan the day before, I realized that the only thing standing in my way was time, so I was incredibly grateful to attend this workshop. A Brown senior led the time management workshop. During the school year, she works to help struggling first years manage their time more wisely. She talked to us a lot about the differences between high school and college and the best ways to deal with the lack of structure in college life.  We also had the opportunity to fill out a matrix to help prioritize aspects of our schedule. The matrix was split into four categories: urgent and important; important but not urgent; urgent but not important; and not important and not urgent. Writing my obligations in their corresponding section really helped me to visualize what is actually important.

After the time management workshop, it was time to leave. It was hard to say goodbye to all the amazing people I met just a few days before. Even though I met many of these people for the first time and have known them for just a few days, I know we will maintain an effort to stay in touch.

The Women and Leadership group with our tour guide at Amherst 
Thankfully, I didn’t have to say goodbye to everyone all at once. Ynah, Iris, Abigail and I went to lunch with three Korean guys we met over the past few days. It was my first time eating Korean food, and it was actually really good. After lunch, reality set in, and I realized I would have to say goodbye to everyone I met over the weekend. After parting ways, we all met in the lobby of hotel providence and then left for the airport.

Now that I am back home, I have already spread the lessons I learned at the Symposium to my school community. With my newly gained motivation to implement my action plan, I am now excited to work towards my goal of creating a community garden at El Cerrito High.

Fall Colors 
Ivy League Connections has literally changed my life. Not only did Ivy League Connections enable to me spend an amazing three weeks on the East Coast this summer, but the program also gave me the opportunity to attend the Leadership Symposium. Ivy League Connections has enabled me to gain confidence and motivation to advocate positive change in my community and I now plan to take concrete steps to implement that change.

Monday, November 12, 2012

See You Later, Brown

It has been a wonderful weekend for me. Today was the last day of the leadership Symposium. The day was fairly short. We had breakfast like yesterday. I ate pretty much the same things: a bagel and fruits. We headed to Brown at the same time as yesterday as well.
Our first activity was a Leadership Alumni panel in an auditorium in the Smith-Buonanno building. Similar to the Starr Fellow panel of yesterday’s activity, we had the chance to interact with Brown students that have impacted their community through leadership projects. However, this time, the panel consisted of students that have done some sort of leadership programs like the ones we did during the summer. They were there to tell us about their Action Plans, their struggles, and their outcomes. In the end, they opened the panel to the audience. We were able to ask questions pertaining to our own Action Plan. That was helpful and inspirational. It’s one thing to be told that we are capable of executing our plans, but it’s even better knowing that there are those who faced the same challenges and were still able to overcome them. I am glad that they shared their stories with the Symposium students.
Time Management Coaches
After a break, we proceeded to a Time Management Workshop in the same building. Everyone in the audience was broken into groups of three. I was placed in group 3 and we headed to a room downstairs. Our mentor was a Brown student. She is currently a senior at Brown. During the workshop, we just discussed ways of being productive. We learned how to prioritize the things we need to do by physically organizing our priorities in a worksheet. We categorized our “to do” list into “Urgent” and “Not Urgent” columns.  I found this helpful, especially because I am now a senior in high school. I am in the middle of college applications, AP exams, ACT prep, and extracurriculars. I found myself putting college applications, supplement essays, and personal statements under the “Urgent” column. I realized that prepping for AP exams can be in the “Not Urgent” because I have more time for that compared to the college admission process.
Everyone met up again at the auditorium. This was the end of the Symposium. Kisa bid us farewell after holding a quick reflective activity. We filled up a worksheet about our Action Plan, basically making us reflect on what we will do with our Plans.
Iris, Aby, Emily, and I had lunch with the three Korean guys that we have met through the program. We had Korean food. Actually, it was my first time trying Korean food. I had a wonderful time and it was definitely painful to part ways.
Now, I am sitting in the TF Green Airport’s floor. I am quite sad. I wish the weekend extended itself for another 7 days. Actually, I wish I could be part of the ILC all over again. Having a weekend trip like this was sort of like a teaser. I just wish it would have lasted longer. I am a senior now, which means that I cannot join the ILC for the next set of trips. I am grateful to have been part of Brown’s Leadership Symposium 2012. I will now bring back all that I’ve learned because I mean, I can’t escape them. I think that those lessons and skills have helped shaped me into a more positive being. I hope to contribute to my community, even if it is just a small impact from my Action Plan.
Group photo of everyone in front of Wilson Hall

Saturday, November 10, 2012

A Day Full of Work

I am sad to think that I will be leaving tomorrow. I am having such a great time and gaining a lot of knowledge through the work shops and skill building activities. I wish I could stay one or two more nights. I bet I would learn how to dominate the world!

My day began with a delightful breakfast at a private room at the diner of Hotel Providence. There I ate a bagel with jam along with some fruit and an orange juice. Then afterwards we began loading onto the big yellow school buses that were ready to take us away to the wonderful campus of Brown.

Arriving to the Holley building, everyone headed to the auditorium to recieve answers to questions and meet five students known as the Starr Fellow Panel. the five students told us about each of their action plans, their challenges, and their success. they told their stories and why they were so passionate about what they were doing. I was impressed in their stories especially in Sidney Kusher, who works with kids who have cancer and makes them feel like champions with the help of NBA players. I really admire him for this and for being able to succeed with his action plan.

Hip Hop Pride During Lunch

Dinner with the Girls
(Iris, Ynah, and I)
 After lunch we headed back to the Holley Building to continue with building-skills activities. My fisrt session was about stress management which waas hosted by Dean Rose. I learned the importance of why stressing is bad for our bodies and how to control it. Dean Rose explained that scientist and doctors have mad studies about what we should do when feeling stressed, but surprisingly people do the total opposite like stop eating or eat too much, not get enough sleep etc. My second session was about fundraising strategies. Here I learned about what to do and how to raise money for my action plan. I now know how to make myself rich when  get back home!

These workshops were very helpful for me and left me without questions. everything that I was once doubting or knew nothing about has vanished. I now feel more confident with my action plan succeeding.

To end my busy day the we were taken to  Alumnae Hall where we were given a presentation about an organization called Hip Hop 4 Social Change. this organization is formed by a group of hip hop dancers who have taken their talents and implimented them on children as a form of expression. It is a very successful organization that is also located in California near L.A. Its objective is to entertain and keep children out of trouble by providing them a place where they could formally express themselves through dance and art such as graffiti.
Being Proud to Represent the West Coast

Besides being given a presentation we were also taught a few steps of hip hop to do a free style dance with the whole group. I enjoyed it very much and wished it could have lasted longer, but as every day must end we were forced to head back to the hotel where we had a small fun time, and then headed to our rooms to go to bed.

What's Your Story?

Like I expected yesterday, today was a jam-packed day full of enthusiasm and activities that kept us busy. The buses arrived at the hotel around 8:45 AM and whisked all the students away to Brown's campus. 

Our first of the many activities today was a Q&A to the Starr Fellows. The Star Fellows Program provides undergraduates from Brown training, funding, and mentoring to support their efforts to develop their social entrepreneurship initiatives, or in my case, action plans. Sidney, Drew, Tara, Emily, and Khalil each talked about their inspirations, challenges, and how they over came them. A common obstacle was doubt. The panel claimed they felt self-doubt somewhere in the process of development and wanted to start fresh. To fix this issue, they consulted with the people already involved and reassured themselves that everything was going to be OK. They said having mentors to talk to can go a long way.

After speaking with the panel, we broke into eight groups to meet with our consulting crew. S.M.A.R.T. goals were insisted for my group to follow. We should consider being specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and our time. Specify what the goal is, then make sure it's able to be accomplishment, not just a dream from outer space, and establish a date for execution. Going over these ideal goals helped me organize my action plan much more, restored my confidence, and the nervousness disappeared.

"Beat The Street" Dancing During Lunch
Time for skill-building session one and two! The first session I went to was about fundraising. This taught me that simple ideas such as bake sales can go a long way. Fund raisers don't have to be over the top in order to raise money, you just need to captivate the audience's attention. The second session was about running an effective meeting. We discussed challenges and frustrations everyone have dealt with before and how to reconstruct the meeting where they can be avoided. We also worked on a worksheet to plan out our next or future meeting about our action plan.

Our last and final activity involved Hip Hop 4 Social Change. This organization uses hip hop dance as  a positive and time consuming way for children and teens to stay out of trouble. The dance crew taught us some moves and the room soon turned into a dance studio.

Representing West Coast!
This day was hectic and busy and I couldn't enjoy it any other way. One last day here is all that is left. Argg! I wish I can stay longer! Tomorrow is bitter sweet to leave, but I can't wait to return back home. 

Panels, Workshops, and Interactive Activates

Today’s Symposium agenda changed my definition of a full day. What I used to consider a productive day pales in comparison to what we accomplished today at the Leadership Symposium. The day was filled with panels, workshops, and interactive activates. In addition to all this, we somehow made the time to introduce ourselves to a range of new people and connect with those we met at this summer.

Surprisingly, I woke up before my alarm this morning. After getting ready to leave, my roommate and I headed down to the Hotel Providence dinning room for breakfast. During breakfast, I sat down with a few people I met last night and enjoyed a delicious toasted bagel with fresh fruit and yogurt. After admiring the massive chandeliers in the dining room, we board the busses and headed to Brown.

Upon arriving at Brown, I was intrigued by the fall colors and the actual Brown students on campus. Immediately after stepping off the bus, both the RAs and the brisk air encouraged us inside the Barus and Holley building for a Starr Fellow Panel. The Panel was made up of Brown students who each took part in the creation of a program advocating social change in their community or, in many cases, the nation. One young man, Sydney, created an organization to connect children with cancer to professional athletes. Another woman, Emily, started and organization called Hip Hop 4 Social Change. One man created a program, which integrates math and basketball into the same curriculum. Listening to these wonderful individuals who had contributed so much to making the world a better place really motivated me to start working more on my action plan.

After the panel, we split up into our resource and consulting groups and discussed our action plans with a member of the Starr Fellow Panel and a Brown professor. We first discussed the challenges of our actions plans and then brainstormed ideas to help overcome obstacles. Despite the range of plans, everyone seemed to face similar problems. The most common problem, and a big problem for me, was time management, so we spent the majority of the time discussing ways to overcome this huge issue. Through this consulting session I not only gained insight as to what others were doing for their action planes, but also tactics to carry out my action plan in a productive and efficient way.

After what seemed like just a few minutes, our two and a half hour lunch break had arrived. With a group of Leadership students, I headed to Thayer Street, where we spent at least an hour figuring out where to eat.  After finally choosing a salad and sandwich place, we headed back to the main green to enjoy our short time on the Brown campus.

After lunch, we split up into groups again to take part in the two workshops of our choice. I first attended a workshop on working collaboratively with high school teachers and administrators. While trying to start the school garden, it has been challenging for me to effectively communicate with several teachers who are all part of the garden. Through this workshop, I learned more about the structure of the education system, and gained an understanding of many of the conflicting interests school administrators are forced to deal with everyday. I then attended a workshop on planning and running an effective meeting. I singed up for this workshop because I have never run a meeting, but understand that I will probably have to run many in order to successfully implement my action plan. This workshop was run very effectively and left me with concrete model as to how to run a meeting successfully. These two workshops were each just over an hour, but everything discussed was incredibly relevant to my action plan and I know that what I learned will serve me for years to come.
By the time the workshops were over, it was time for dinner. We walked over to the Ratty and ate in the private dinning room downstairs. Despite that we ate in a different room, I recognized the flavors of the fried chicken and macaroni and cheese as the same dishes I ate this past summer.

I was so full from dinner that I was not sure I would be able to dance at the Hip Hop 4 Social Change presentation we attended after dinner. Luckily, the organization began with a quick presentation, so I had a little time to digest my food. After the presentation, we formed a gigantic circle and watched as professional dancers did some pretty amazing moves. Later, they taught us a few of the basics. I’m a terrible dancer, but I still thoroughly enjoyed this interactive presentation.

The panel, workshops, and interactive activates today at the Leadership Symposium provided me with momentum to really kick off my action plan. I gained insight from individuals who, just a few years ago were going through the same struggles as me but, are now incredibly successful.  Having the opportunity to collaborate with students and come up with solutions to our problems was a huge source of motivation. I left the Symposium confident in my ability to start a school garden at El Cerrito High and I can’t wait to go home and make some major progress. 

Action Filled Day

The first full day of the symposium was action packed. After a light breakfast of bagels and fruit, I chatted with a couple of people around my table. By 8:45 AM, the buses came to take us to Brown from the hotel.
Our first activity was in the Barus and Holley building (B&H building), in a medium sized auditorium. There we had the Starr Fellow panel of five Brown students that have made impact to their communities. Each students, and though their names escape me at the moment, had inspiring stories. The purpose of this panel was to motivate and inspire the students at the Symposium and give them a chance to ask questions. Though all of the five students are much older than most of us, they were able to connect with us because just like us, they had stories that drove their passion to act on an issue that is important to them.
Afterwards, we had breakout sessions. We reported to our assigned rooms for a resource/consulting group session. I was alarmed when I could not find my name anywhere on the lists of groups, so I immediately asked Kisa. It turns out that they have left me out! Luckily, she was able to assign me to the first group. Our mentor was Dean Rose. I have met her through the summer program, so I was already familiar with her. In the session, each student in the group shared their Action Plans, our progress, and our challenges. Though most of the plans differed in motives or hoped outcomes, I realized that almost each of us faced the same challenges. Most of which were balancing schoolwork, gaining support from the school staff, and getting students involved. Dean Rose gave us helpful counseling by letting us get our opinions across. We also got a lot of feedback and advice from each other.  It was especially helpful to me because it allowed me to really organize my vision and see some things that I have missed. Since I had to readjust my project, I was able to reconstruct it in a way that makes sense to my audience. I really enjoyed this part of my Saturday. It reminded me how important considering feedback from people is when trying to implement almost any project.
"Beat the Streets" showcase
During our two and a half hour lunch break, Iris, Aby, and I roamed Thayer Street. It was weird how familiar we were with the area. We even knew the street names! I picked up a couple of small souvenirs from the Brown book store. Lunch break was interesting because there was a live art/hiphop show in front of FroYo World. It was a show by Brown University’s HipHop 4, called “Beat the Streets”.  They had acapella singers, b-boy crews, and live graffiti art. It was to promote art and music as an outlet against pressures of growing up in the streets. It was awesome because one of the panelists during the Starr Fellow panel was actually one of the founders of HipHop 4. It was nice to see some of her work in action.
Interesting live graffiti art during lunch time
The Main Green is so full of memories!
We reported in front of the Wilson Hall for a group photo after lunch. All 65 students who were accepted to the Symposium arranged for a photo. I have yet to see them, but Kisa said that they will be in the Symposium’s official Facebook page. We then headed back to the B&H building for two skill building workshops. My first workshop was called “What’s your Story? Marketing & communicating your work.”  In this workshop, I worked with a marketing expert that helped us build our marketing and communicating skills. During the workshop, I shared my Action Plan’s background story, in which I as able to provide extra details as to how I ended up wanting to act on that certain issue. I realized how important it is to only have necessary details because too much detail can throw your audience off. Next, we learned how to devise effective speeches that will surely sell our plan. Having a concise, straight forward message with a hint of humility is the formula. Well, in my opinion it is. It is what I learned from my first workshop. I also learned effective ways to advertise and put myself out there. This included utilizing the Social Media and using that as a medium for staying relevantt. I was also reminded about flyers and business cards, and exactly how effective they are. The biggest thing I learned, though, would have to be trying to communicate in a personal level. Setting up meetings to talk in person rather than sending emails is definitely a better way to establish relationships, especially with potential partners.
My second workshop was called “Successful Collaboration with Teachers and School Administration”.  I learned the world of a school administration. Basically, in order for them to take me seriously, I have to first recognize and understand the complicated world that they work in. The two mentors that lead the workshop were former teachers. One is even a real life school principal for a school in New England.  That was great because he was credible. He knew what he was talking about because he is talking about his job. I learned about the different types of people and organizations that influence how public & private schools are run. I learned how this all correlates to speaking effectively with the school admin. A way to get your plans approved is by offering or clearly showing an incentive for them.  Realizing or maybe adjusting your plan so that it can be approved by your principal/teacher’s boss is even better because I think admins would much rather keep their jobs than to lose it by approving a student’s small project. Lastly, we were taught how to properly approach a school staff, including the principal or teacher. Politeness goes a really long way. Being polite and understanding of their busy schedules is a good way of showing that you respect or value their time.
We had dinner at Brown. An hour or so later, we walked to the Alumnae Hall for our last activity of the day: HipHop 4  Social Change. To my surprise, we were greeted by most of the same dancers that we watched during lunch time. They were two b-boy crews that make up the HipHop 4 project:  the 401 crew and the G818ERS. HipHop 4’s objective is to utilize the four elements of hiphop: beatboxing, DJing, MCing, and B-boying to help underprivileged kids find an outlet to keep them on track with school. They do this by holding non-profit showcases such as the one we watched in Thayer Street. They also come to elementary schools and teach children about hiphop and art. After their presentations, they actually taught us some b-boy moves. How awesome, right? I learned some groovy moves. Of course, I will never be as good as they are, but I do think that was extremely fun. Every single one of the Symposium attendees participated, even our RAs.
401 Crew & The G818ers
One of the other exciting things about the hiphop workshop was the fact that the G818ERS is actually based in California! It made me so proud that they persevered through a tough community in the Los Angeles area and gave back to the community. They were also surprised that we were from California. After the workshop, Iris, Aby, and I introduced ourselves to them. It was a fun workshop overall. I really respect what Hiphop 4 is trying to do, especially because I am a huge hiphop lover. (The G818ers’ website:
We headed back to the hotel around 9:45 PM. When we got there, we were given an optional chance to stay at the ballroom and eat deserts. There, I was able to meet three Korean students that are also part of the Symposium. It was cool to meet international students. One even knew how to speak Spanish!
Tomorrow marks our last day here in Brown. It will be a short day. I will also be heading back to California tomorrow. It breaks my heart that I will have to say goodbye a second time to place that means so much to me.

Busy as Bees at Brown

Another early morning in Providence began with breakfast in the hotel. There was a wonderful assortment of fruit, bagels and yogurt. After we finished the most important meal of the day, all the Symposium students boarded two yellow school busses that took us up to campus. From there, we got straight to work. First, we had a panel in which students at Brown talked about their Action Plans and how with a grant awarded to them by the university, they were able to expand their organizations. They gave great advice about pitching your idea and working with other people.  

Brown students making a difference and sharing their experiences.
After the panel we broke in to groups and got spend an hour talking about our Action Plans and the progress we had made. Our facilitators were there to help us with things we still needed to address in our Action Plans and answer questions about anything related. This was especially helpful for me because I really got to evaluate the progress I had made and bounce new ideas off of other students and more experienced college students, one of which was Brenda, whom I met a dinner over the summer. When we finished the discussion groups we had lunch. 
A mini Women and Leadership reunion at lunch on the Main Green! 
During the school year, the Main Green is full of busy students. In the corner, is a new friend of mine,
Hannah from Florida. 
Interesting activity on Thayer St. during lunch.

After lunch, we reconvened for our chosen workshops. First, I attended one about fundraising. There, I learned about fundraising etiquette and got some great tips on how to organize resources to make for an effective fundraising event. Then, I went to a stress management workshop led by Dean Rose. This was particularly helpful because during this busy time of college applications, school and my Action Plan I could apply what I learned to every aspect of my life now and in the future. 
Dean Rose telling us about ways to calm yourself in stressful situations.
When our workshops were finished we headed to the Raddy for dinner and then were rushed to the Alumnae House for a presentation by Hip Hop 4 which strives to teach children through hip hop through dancing and rapping. We watched a video that showed the kind of work the organization had already accomplished and then we got to dance and learn some of the basic dance moves in hip hop.

We didn't arrive back at the hotel until 9:30 PM. It was a day full of enriching and inspiring lectures and activities. Tomorrow is our last day in Providence and I am interested to see what it holds for us.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Trolling Down Amherst

Having to be ready at the lobby by a quarter to seven this morning didn’t really make me “bright eyed and bushy tailed”. Instead, I was more like a sleep deprived grumpy troll trying to make sense of what was going on when my alarm clock rang. When I finally realized the girls and I were going to visit Amherst today, I jumped out of the king sized bed I shared with Aby and got dressed. Now you may think I’m lying about the bed size, but nope! I was assigned to a single room and it just so happened I got lucky. This troll had a comfy night!

Hello Autumn, Goodbye Summer!
We arrived at Amherst College roughly around 9:30 AM; thirty minutes before our information session. Our speaker, Tyler spoke about five key points: small, diversity, selective, liberal arts, and open curriculum. Amherst has about 1,800 students and has a student to teacher ratio of 8:1. Of those students, 6% are multi-racial, 11% are Asian American and Hispanic, 12% are African American, 40% are Caucasian, and 11% chose not to identify. For the school year of 12/13, they received 8,000 applications and had a 12-13% acceptance rate. The thing that stood out to me about Amherst is its open curriculum and its five-college consortium. Amherst is associated with the University of Massachusetts, Smith College, Hampshire College, and Mt. Holyoke College. These schools are within ten miles from each other and all have free transportation available for students to travel to each school. Amherst doesn’t offer pre-professional programs so if one was ever interested in one, this system allows you to travel to the sibling school to take the course you have in mind. When the session was over, we were led by Tito for our tour and later was able to spend some time with an admissions officer. 

Since we had a chunk of time left before checking into the symposium, we drove down the block to visit Emily Dickinson's house. Before the tour started, my first impression of Emily was that she was very reclusive and lived a lonely life, well with the exception of her boyfriend who supposedly promised her he would leave his wife for her. After the tour, our speaker was able to make me focus more on Emily's creative writing style instead of her solitary life. Most of the original furniture in the house are at Harvard University, but the copies still made the story of Ms. Dickinson come alive. The house included a white dress that the poet was known to have worn. From the details, our group concluded that she was a rather short woman. When we came to a close, we walked back to the car and headed to our hotel where the symposium was soon to begin. No more anticipation!

After receiving our information packet for the weekend, I headed upstairs to my room and prepared for tonight's dinner. Mayor Angel Tavares was there and presented a speech on vision, teamwork, and persistence. He was referring to our Action Plans and stated that once we have an idea, our next step is to form a team and work together for our ideas to bloom into motion. Finally, all it takes is some tender, love, and care and hopefully we will become successful. When Mayor Tavares ended, a group called Youth In Action (YIA) spoke. This organization is about empowering the youth in Rhode Island and letting them be heard in a neighborhood of adults. This inspired me to continue on with my Action Plan goals and to not give up once I get back home. Both the mayor and YIA speeches were beautifully intertwined and made me more excited for tomorrow's added enthusiasm. Tomorrow is a mystery but I can already tell it's going to be amazing! Including the weather!