Sunday, June 19, 2011

Preparing for Adventure: A Saturday to Remember

My parents left out of town for the weekend and I was left with the distinct pleasure of staying home alone. For those of you who are thinking that this story will turn out as a wild, partying bonanza, you are wrong. In reality, I went to a 7 on 7 football tournament at Stanford University with the Pinole Valley Spartan football team. The weather and competition was heated, at a level far from normal, with teams from all across northern and southern California, but my team and I were ready to cool down any team in our way.

As we dove into battle with our first two adversaries, we had no problem getting ahead, but maintaining the lead was a different story. We lost our first two games by the absence of 1 point. And as are losses began surfacing something else within my right shoulder began to emerge. My shoulder became limp during the most pivotal point of the second game in which the other team's player scored because of my temporary inability to defend him.

As we moved on to the third game, I simply tried to play as though I was fine, when truly I was not. On the last play of the game we were tied. The other team had just scored and they needed to score again on their extra point try to win. The ball was hiked and a receiver immediately entered my zone; I delayed my attack, trying to make him seem as though he was open when he really wasn’t. My decoy was successful and the quarterback threw the ball as I closed on the receiver. The ball was almost in the receiver’s hand, it was time to make my move to hit the ball down. I threw my arm in front of the receiver almost hitting the ball, when I heard a tearing sound and immediately afterwards my arm went limp. I had no control of my arm as I hit the ground causing it to land in a awkward position further separating my shoulder. I laid on the grass as a trainer approached me. I told him the pain was in my shoulder and he began to feel through the ripped ligaments, noticing that my shoulder was where normal shoulders should never be. He gave me two options: 1. I could let it heal naturally, or 2. I could go to the hospital. After assessing the deep and sharp pain in my shoulder and the intrigued face of the man holding my shoulder, I decided to head to the ER.

No ambulance came for me, just the simple passenger seat of a Honda civic. I arrived at Kaiser Redwood City about ten minutes after the incident. After many calls my parents were reached and alerted of my current state. I spent three hours in a hospital bed going through x rays, repeatedly getting told about my dislocated shoulder, receiving doses and shots of lidocane and morphine, all for the simple joy in the feeling of the doctor pulling my shoulder back in to place.

As I sit organizing and voicing my feelings, after a day and a half of icing, boredom, and realization; I want to leave you with this, always listen to your body and know your limits. You may have only one life to live, but you only have one body to live it with.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Show Me The Money!

You have the brightest child in the neighborhood and everyone knows it.  Any university in the country would be lucky to have your child.  Without exception, though, all of the top flight schools cost a fortune to attend.  We’re not talking about new car kind of money.  We’re talking about the kind of money to buy a decent house—the kind where you have to keep paying for it forever and ever.  The kind f money it takes a regular working family decades to prepare for.
What are you going to do?  You make decent money—at least enough to keep the rest of your family living comfortably—but it’s not really enough to keep them living comfortably and leave enough to pay for that college education.  The cost of living here in the Bay Area eats up most of your paycheck—when you get a paycheck—and leaves little to sock away to pay for a decent education for your children.
You and your child could take out loans to pay for that top flight education but what kind of life would that be for your child to graduate owing almost as much as the National Debt?
Your child could get a job but what kind of money could an 18 year old make before acquiring the skills that the college education will help provide?
What’s a parent to do?  How are you supposed to take care of your family and provide them with a quality education—the kind of education that will open the right doors once your child has that sheepskin firmly in her grasp?
What are you supposed to do?  You’re supposed to turn to The Ivy League Connection’s very own Sue Kim—a professional educational consultant specializing in admissions and financial aid counseling since 1991.
Sue has helped many dozens of ILC students and others from the WCCUSD find the perfect fit of a college and then find a means to pay for that education.  She knows what she’s doing and she’s good at it.
On Thursday June 16th Sue hosted 39 ILC and WCCUSD students and parents in a financial aid workshop where she helped point the way for the parents to find ways for other people to pay for the education of their children.
Between grants, scholarships, gifts and other options that may be available to the students and parents in our area, more and more of our students have opportunities to attend better schools than they might otherwise have been considering.
Sue explained that although California has an outstanding 10 campus University of California and a 23 campus state university system, both systems have little money to offer students in the way of financial assistance.  The cost to attend these schools is prohibitively expensive and the costs are steadily rising.
On the other hand, there are numerous private colleges spread throughout the country that have large endowments designed to help the very kinds of students we seem to have an abundance of: smart but needy.
Tonight’s session was only a primer but it laid the foundation so parents and students can start their preparations.  Once their students enter their senior year of high school, the college application process becomes a full time job requiring a tremendous amount of dedication and attention to detail.  There are openings at these schools and there is money to be had but if our students and their parents don’t do the necessary homework and prepare themselves, those opportunities may go elsewhere.  We want everyone around the world to have the option of getting a top education but if there are limited funds and limited openings, then we’d rather that our people be taken care of first.  Call it selfish if you will—and you’d be right—but such is life.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Preparing For Adventure: Final Briefings

As my cohort Julia Chang stated earlier, it is truly the beginning of an end of our preparation for our trip to Vanderbilt. Last Thursday, June 2nd, at El Cerrito High School, the Ivy League Connection had its official Orientation.
This time I made sure to arrive early, and to my surprise my father Derrick Duren had already beaten me to the school. I was extremely excited to find out the details of our trip and to see the other Ivy League Scholars. For the first time in the program's history, everyone was present and on time. We were able to proceed smoothly to the point when all the different groups separated to go talk to their chaperones about their trips. I couldn’t wait for this portion as we crowded into our designated room and sat down quietly.

After some small problems with the lights in our room, (the lights would not stay on), we began the meeting. We learned that despite our conversations with Vanderbilt, we would not be able to go on college tours during the weekend. Instead we would make time for the trips before and after we went through our course.

We would visit Emory University, Morehouse College, Spelman College, and Georgia Tech. We discovered our flight information, where we would be eating, our hotel arrangements, and even our rental car which will be subject to change because of its size. 

We discussed Don Gosney’s various collection of loaner items which I do plan to take advantage of, and what our daily schedule and Vanderbilt will include. The Orientation was very exciting and has aroused feelings of dramatic anticipation within me. I truly can’t wait till July.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Orientation: The Beginning of an End

The students and parents of the ILC gathered at the El Cerrito High School library Thursday evening for an orientation. The parents were to finally be given the opportunity to be informed of what their children are really getting into this summer and the great experiences that lie ahead of them.
Everyone was prompt and on time to our relief, and soon, the orientation commenced with a few words of introduction from Mr. Ramsey and Ms. Kronenberg.

Mr. Don Ellis was also present at the meeting and spoke to us about a new concept of his—a program in which high school students like ourselves could submit literary works to have the opportunity to get them published and distributed in book stores as well as the Internet.

I think the idea is fantastic—it will allow students’ literary creations, ranging from poems to short stories, the chance to be published and received by people far beyond the boundaries of their own school.

Soon after, we broke into groups and dispersed to separate classrooms to discuss our travel plans for the summer.
We received our itineraries and went over the guidelines of our stay at the University. Since we will not be allowed to leave the campus during the duration of the program, we had to cancel some of our side-trips to a few colleges in Georgia, including Spellman and Morehouse. However, we will have time to visit the great Emory College of Arts and Science, as well as the Georgia Institute of Technology. I am extremely excited to visit both, especially the Emory School of Medicine.

After we concluded going over our schedule of our time down South, we congregated once again in the library with some finishing words from Ms. Kronenberg and Mr. Ramsey. They reminded us that we all have an obligation to not only ourselves, but to everyone—our school, our District, our peers, the ILC itself—and we must all be thankful for this opportunity and each do our part.

Friday, June 3, 2011

El Cerrito Meetup - Itineraries and Answers

Last night was the final meeting for many of us before our summer departure. We met at the El Cerrito High School Library to answer those long-awaited questions from parents and students, as well as to give out the itineraries for each group.
Before we dispersed into our separate rooms, Mr. Don Ellis introduced his new idea to us all. He is planning to publish the poetry and stories of ILC participants. These books would be printed and/or available online, and available for sale. He said that it was a possibility that book signings and newspaper reviews could ensue. This is an extremely generous and fantastic opportunity. Teen writers can finally spread their works out, past their diaries and journals, past their blogs and websites, past the school’s literary magazines. Their literature would actually be published and made into a book. People from all around would be able to read these students’ works.

The rest of the evening was spent in our separate class rooms, giving information about the trip, answering questions, and passing out the itineraries.

Ms. Bulls, our chaperone, asked the Vandies to go online or look in travel books to find some sights we would like to see - museums, historical sites, famous places, or entertainment. I am looking forward to researching what side trips we can make while in Tennessee and Georgia.

Attending this meeting only makes me more excited to leave for Vanderbilt already. I want to be on that plane tomorrow. But unfortunately, my tomorrow won’t include me traveling on a plane. Tomorrow I will be taking two SAT Subject Tests back at El Cerrito High School, and studying for finals.

Ah, summer. Please hurry along.