Through WCCUSD’s Ivy League Connection program, Hercules High School Students Justine Betschart, Stacy Chan, Ramiah Davis-Shephard, Louisa Man, Julia Maniquiz, and Yueming Wang will be attending Cornell University to either study Freedom and Justice or Hotel Operations Management during the summer of 2009.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Soon to return for more Big Red adventure

It’s hard to believe that seven days ago, I was still completely unsure of what road I would take come this fall. I remember sitting down with my family at our dinner table as they patiently listened to all the bottled emotions I unleashed during an intense internal battle of what college to attend. To Cornell or to Berkeley, that was the question.

Since emigrating from China at the age of nine, I’ve lived happily with my family in the bustling and thriving Bay Area, home of arguably one of the best public university in the world – University of California, Berkeley. Although I didn’t initially understand why Berkeley was special, it has grown on me over the years, so much that I set my ultimate college goal to getting into UC Berkeley. I’m not sure if it was the frequent campus visits, my college friends’ enthralling tales, or the inspiring stories of Berkeley alumni that made me sure Berkeley was the place for me.

It’s wholly impossible for me to describe the overwhelming joy I felt the day I received my Berkeley acceptance notification. It was 4pm on March 24th when the Berkeley decisions were released online, and I had an iPhone in hand, ready to check my admission status by 4:01. With shaky fingers, I held my breath and logged into my account. As soon as I read the word “Congratulations”, I exhaled loudly and took one slow breath before the tears streamed down from my eyes. The moment was simply priceless.

I was admitted into the Industrial Engineering and Operations Research within the College of Engineering at Berkeley, which is ranked as the third best overall undergraduate engineering school in the country by US Weekly. I thought I was sure about enrolling at Berkeley the day I learned of my admission into its Class of 2015, but little did I know that eight days later, I would receive great news from an Ivy League school – Cornell University.

Two summers ago, I had the extraordinary opportunity of living Ithaca, New York for three weeks to take a Hotel Administration course at Cornell University’s Summer College program for high school students as part of the Ivy League Connection. To say that those were the best three weeks of my summer would be an understatement. I can’t honestly remember having so much fun while still learning so much about the hotel industry and business in general. On top of that, I met many students from all over the country and around the world, and I can honestly say that they are some of the most interesting people I know! Truthfully, my three weeks at Cornell was one of the most (if not the most) eye-opening experience I’ve ever had.

Although I enjoyed my time at Cornell, I didn’t expect to get into Cornell Engineering – the best undergraduate engineering program out of all the Ivy League schools in the East Coast. After recovering from the pleasant surprise of being admitted, I decided to seriously consider Cornell as an option since I had such a wonderful time in Ithaca two summers ago. By the first week of April after all of college decisions were released, I narrowed my list of schools down to UC Berkeley, Cornell, Rice University in Houston, Texas, and Harvey Mudd College (part of the Claremont University Consortium) in Claremont, California.

Once my family and I paid a visit to Southern California to visit Harvey Mudd and UCLA, I did some critical thinking and further narrowed down the list to Berkeley and Cornell. Both Harvey Mudd and UCLA are wonderful schools, but I got a sense that they were not really a good fit for me. (A word of advice to all rising seniors: Personal fit is a very important yet often neglected factor that should be considered!) After conversing with students and professors at Berkeley and alumni of Cornell as well as my school teachers, friends, and family, I came to the conclusion that regardless of which school I picked in the end, it would not be a bad decision in terms of academics, student life, personal fit, etc. The deciding factor was whether I wanted to stay close to home and live in a familiar environment or venture out to the East Coast and try something new.

This was the toughest decision I’ve ever had to make. To say so otherwise would not only be an extreme understatement but also a lie. With that said, I want to stress that this was also one of the most exciting decisions I’ve ever made. (Oh, the paradox?) For those who do not know me, I love new adventures, whether it comes in the form of a refreshing trip with friends or a challenging physics project. And what could be a better way to truly indulge myself into adventures, one after another, than to move across the country for the next four years?

Although there are other more rational reasons why I chose Cornell, ie smaller student-faculty ratio, more undergraduate research opportunities, and better funding/less budget cuts, the most important one was being able to spread my wings and leave home for four years to see how I can handle living independently. While comfort is something we should all seek as we grow older, we should all endeavor to embark on some adventures while we are young. And I truly believe that the adventures that push us beyond the boundaries of our comfort will help us discover something new about ourselves.

This was one of the best rewards I reaped from being a participant in the Ivy League Connection. My summer at Cornell was the first time I went to a new, unfamiliar place without my family. While there were stressful times when the work load was too demanding and my group mates were in disagreement, we all learned to handle the difficult situations that were thrown at us. Because of the friendly environment at Cornell, I ultimately walked away feeling confident that I am capable of working through challenging circumstances. With fond memories of the three amazing weeks I spent in Cornell two summers ago, I am more confident that I will soon have four thrilling years at Cornell University. Big Red, here I come!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Walking away as a Hotelie...

...unofficial, of course, but you get the idea. I graduated from Cornell Summer College, and that's what matters.

On graduation day, Mr. McCarthy and Mrs. McCarthy greeted all the beaming students and parents with a closing ceremony. Student speaker, Emily Stinson, laid out the framework of what the Hotel Operations Management consisted of, while another group showcased their presentation on Choice Hotels. Two other students spoke on behalf of the class about the CHESS simulation as well as the computing skills that each student had excelled in by the end of the journey. Finally, to close the presentation, Mr. McCarthy and Mrs. McCarthy pulled a fast one on us. They surprised us with a hard copy (binded!) of our final CHESS report for every Hotelie. To tie the ceremony up, they presented each student with a completion of Summer College certificate.

But, wait, there was more! The teacher assistants compiled a powerpoint slideshow of photos of students, whether they were inside or outside of the classroom with their usual team or friends. At that point, I was thisclose to getting teary-eyed. It was such a special moment, and it finally hit me that the whole experience was coming to an end. Graduation day was one of the best highlights of my trip.

To finish off with a lasting impression, the ILC scholars had to make our final mark. So what did the we do?

Show our appreciation by hugging Mrs. McCarthy and giving a firm handshake to the one and only Mr. McCarthy. I remembered clearly Mr. McCarthy's words: "You all represented your school district well."

This post may be one of my last blogs for a while, so to walk away, I want to reaffirm that I am especially gracious for having such a large and close-knitted ILC team who has supported and provided me resources every step of the way. From the founders to the sponsors to the faculty staff, I want to thank everyone all for such an amazing opportunity that I will forever cherish for the rest of my academic career.

Thank you,
Stacy Chan

Charmed 1%

Professor Kramnick's final words prompted me to post some links to the information he provided which he attributed to Julian Bond's 2003 commencement address to Washington University.

The information - quoted below - originally comes from The Donella Meadows Archive - (interestingly Donnella Meadows is an adjunct professor at Dartmouth). This was produced by the Sustainability Institute ( and is called the Voice of the Global Citizen:

The Donella Meadows Archive
Voice of a Global Citizen

State of the Village Report

If the world were a village of 1000 people:

584 would be Asians
123 would be Africans
95 would be East and West Europeans
84 Latin Americans
55 Soviets (still including for the moment Lithuanians, Latvians, Estonians, etc.)
52 North Americans
6 Australians and New Zealanders

The people of the village would have considerable difficulty communicating:
165 people would speak Mandarin
86 would speak English
83 Hindi/Urdu
64 Spanish
58 Russian
37 Arabic

That list accounts for the mother-tongues of only half the villagers. The other half speak (in descending order of frequency) Bengali, Portuguese, Indonesian, Japanese, German, French, and 200 other languages.

In the village there would be:

300 Christians (183 Catholics, 84 Protestants, 33 Orthodox)
175 Moslems
128 Hindus
55 Buddhists
47 Animists
210 all other religons (including atheists)

One-third (330) of the people in the village would be children. Half the children would be immunized against the preventable infectious diseases such as measles and polio.

Sixty of the thousand villagers would be over the age of 65.

Just under half of the married women would have access to and be using modern contraceptives.

Each year 28 babies would be born.

Each year 10 people would die, three of them for lack of food, one from cancer.

Two of the deaths would be to babies born within the year.

One person in the village would be infected with the HIV virus; that person would most likely not yet have developed a full-blown case of AIDS.

With the 28 births and 10 deaths, the population of the village in the next year would be 1018.

In this thousand-person community, 200 people would receive three-fourths of the income; another 200 would receive only 2% of the income.

Only 70 people would own an automobile (some of them more than one automobile).

About one-third would not have access to clean, safe drinking water.

Of the 670 adults in the village half would be illiterate.

The village would have 6 acres of land per person, 6000 acres in all of which:
700 acres is cropland
1400 acres pasture
1900 acres woodland
2000 acres desert, tundra, pavement, and other wasteland.

The woodland would be declining rapidly; the wasteland increasing; the other land categories would be roughly stable. The village would allocate 83 percent of its fertilizer to 40 percent of its cropland -- that owned by the richest and best-fed 270 people. Excess fertilizer running off this land would cause pollution in lakes and wells. The remaining 60 percent of the land, with its 17 percent of the fertilizer, would produce 28 percent of the foodgrain and feed 73 percent of the people. The average grain yield on that land would be one-third the yields gotten by the richer villagers.

If the world were a village of 1000 persons, there would be five soldiers, seven teachers, one doctor. Of the village's total annual expenditures of just over $3 million per year, $181,000 would go for weapons and warfare, $159,000 for education, $132,000 for health care.

The village would have buried beneath it enough explosive power in nuclear weapons to blow itself to smithereens many times over. These weapons would be under the control of just 100 of the people. The other 900 people would be watching them with deep anxiety, wondering whether the 100 can learn to get along together, and if they do, whether they might set off the weapons anyway through inattention or technical bungling, and if they ever decide to dismantle the weapons, where in the village they will dispose of the dangerous radioactive materials of which the weapons are made.

(Donella H. Meadows is an adjunct professor of environmental studies at Dartmouth College.)
Copyright Sustainability Institute. This article from The Donella Meadows Archive is available for use in research, teaching, and private study. For other uses, please contact
Diana Wright, Sustainability Institute, 3 Linden Road, Hartland, VT 05048, (802) 436-1277.

Two other links:

This is a wonderful way to gain ultimate perspective.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

July 11: And You Thought Our Adventure Ended in Ithaca...

If you haven't heard already, our 6 Cornellians have not quite made it home yet. I guess we can't help but continue our adventures during this trip!

So here is what happened...
Our flight itinerary was supposed to be as follows:
Ithaca to Philadelphia
Philadelphia to Charlotte
Charlotte to San Francisco

Our flight from Ithaca to Philly caused no problem. We left a little late, but we made it to our Philadelphia flight to Charlotte in time. Actually, we had plenty of time. The boarding process on the flight from Philadelphia added nearly an hour to our flight time. This caused us to arrive in Charlotte 20 minutes after our San Franciscan already departed. I'll admit. I was upset. I expected to see my family and friends in a few short hours, and I was emotionally drained at that point. To be cut off from going home two flights into the day was hard to absorb. After talking to supervisors at the Charlotte Airport, we were told that we could not leave for SFO until tomorrow morning at 7:30am. This meant a night to be spent in Charlotte. I was extremely upset, but I feel fine now. It's only a half-day away from being home, and I've already spent 22 days away from my homely surroundings. I think I'll survive.

Upon receiving our accommodations and food vouchers, we took a shuttle van to the Quality Inn, the hotel we will stay at for this brief visit to Charlotte. Having not eaten since roughly 10:00am, we were all dying to chow down. Lucky for us, our hotel is located right next to "Cracker Barrel" (Someone please tell me that doesn't scream Southern dining). I have never had Southern cooking, and I was quite impressed. Everything I tried was great, even though it was little hard finding vegetarian friendly food. The food made me feel loads better, and we all made the best of it.

Tomorrow we're waking up bright and early for a flight. I think
I'll actually prefer arriving at SFO in the morning. I'll have the whole day ahead of me! While our trip was meant to end today, I'm happy at this point that it didn't. I got a taste of a state that I had never been to and learned the art of preparing for canceled flights. Also, being a huge NASCAR fan, I'm in the state with one of the most famous tracks: Lowe's Motor Speedway. Maybe, the next time I visit N.C. will be a previously planned arrangement!

Since I'm already blogging, I think I should tell you about my ENTIRE day, aside from the airport mishap. This morning began with chaos throughout Mary Donlon. Parents were showing up, and rooms were being dismantled. I am very happy to have packed last night, for I enjoyed that extra bit of sleep this morning. Checking out of the dorm was pretty simple. I put all of my luggage in Mr. Crossley's van, had an RCA review my room, and I was outta there! Before our informal graduation for Freedom & Justice, Julia, Ramiah and I enjoyed our last meal at Appel Commons. We then headed out to our graduation in Kennedy Hall. I really enjoyed the graduation. It was a great sign-off to a wonderful, compacted semester. By the way, we finally got a picture with Des! Here's the man we've been raving about for the past 3 weeks! I particularly enjoyed Professor Kramnick's speech. I urge you to watch the video below. It's a tad long, but make sure you find the part where he talks about the population of 100 humans. After the graduation, we ran to the airport where we had time to spare. That is where I crazy adventures began. Adventures always seem to follow us Cornellians!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Final Report: Le Petit Papillion by Yueming Wang

We've been reading for three weeks that our students in the Hotel Management Program have been working on a project to develop a means for their hotel to maximize their profits.
The following is a copy of the report filed today by Yueming Wang and her team.

For ease of viewing, place your cursor over each page and click to enlarge.

Promised Pictures & Video

It seems that I hadn't keep some of my previous promises regarding photos! I'm so sorry for the delay, but I have finally uploaded pictures!

While I usually plug in pictures in the middle of my blogs, I have to change it up a bit because I have so many pictures I'd like you to see. I've attached URL's along with slideshows in this blog so that you may see all of the photos. This way the blog won't be cluttered, and it will be easier to navigate through all of the photos. If it is at all confusing, just let me know and I'd be glad to do it the "normal way." It's very timely, so I'm finding the "Photobucket method" much easier.

This first set of photos comes from our visit on July 6th to Uris Library, more specifically the Andrew D. White Lib
rary. It is better known as the "Harry Potter Room." During our visit to Cornell, Julia, Ramiah and I took two visits to this library. It's visually stunning, and the pictures truly don't do the room justice. So if you're ever in Ithaca, make sure you check out Uris Library! (I actually realized that I DID upload some pictures from Uris Library. If you check out my blog from July 6th, there are two pictures. I know that my audience loves pictures, so I think you'll enjoy these pictures more.)

Link to Uris Library Photos

In this URL, you will find pictures from our tour of Cornell on July 10th. Although much of the information we heard from our guide Dan was a tad repetitive, it was nice to get a nice, thorough look of the campus for one last time. Cornell is stunning, and I'm happy we took the tour. That means more pictures to treasure!

Link to Tour of Cornell Photos

And here is the video of the musical steps! It's short, but you get the idea.

Has it Come to an End...Or a New Beginning?

Wow! This has certainly been a journey full of new and wonderful experiences. As I, as well as everyone back home, expected, I had an amazing three weeks here at Cornell University and partcipating in the Summer College program. I know I have complained about some aspects of being here, but all in all I love everything I have encountered and everything I have seen and heared.

Today, students of every other course had a final, or at least I think so. I am not quite sure if architecture students had a final or a project. Anyways, while many of the other courses had finals, the hotel program had a final group report due. My group and I were pretty confident and relaxed at first, but then as time was crunching down, we began to stress ourselves out. I truly enjoyed working with my group and producing such a great product. However, one member of my group said upfront that she disliked everything about our final report ten minutes before the deadline. I was incredibly angry. I did not see how that was rational or professional of her to do so. The entire group accomodated to what she wanted, but she could not accept the changes we would suggest. She basically wanted it her way. It is people like these that make group work so difficult and difficult to enjoy.

I have to say that this trip has provided me with many firsts in life. It is the first time I have needed to walk to and from school everyday. It is the first time I have stayed in a dorm and had a roommate. It is the first time I have really needed to take care of myself and my well being. At home, normally my mom would always be there to tell me to eat my vegetables or do my laundry for me. This, however, was definitely a major change. Besides having the five friends that came along with me on this trip and the new companions I met through the course and program, I have basically needed to depend on my own. When I needed certain amenities, I would have to go out to purchase them. If I wante ice cream, I would have to walk across the street to the Robert Purcell Community Center to get some; not like taking it out of my freezer in the kitchen. I find that this experience as allowed me to understand what it feels like to be independent, to live life on one's own accord. I did call my mother every so often and contacted my dad, so I did always have a little piece of home with me. Who doesn't though? This lesson I know I will forever cherish and take along with me where ever I decide to go in the future.

Since Freedom and Justice and Hotel Operations Management had significantly different schedules, it was difficult for the two groups of students to meet on a regular basis. When the program itself began, the only time we really saw each other was the weekend of the first week. That was the week we saw the awesome Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. The subsequent weekend we met up for the uneventful Fourth of July. Basically, we tried to see each other every chance we could. Although we knew we would see each other back home in California, we missed each other and thought no matter what we should always keep in touch regardless of how busy we were under the loads of work given.

I have said once to Ms. Kim, the college consultant, that I do not find myself fitting in large classrooms with large amounts of students. I was correct. I found staying awake in lectures a challenge. Not only were they long, but I felt uncomfortable in the seats in the actual classroom. Let me tell you. They are attached to the leg of the desks that hold it up and the swing. When you pull it out enough for you to sit in, it swings you all the way so that your belly hits the edge of the desk. You literally have to use your feet to stop yourself from swinging back to the desk; what a nuisance. However, most lectures were fun. My professors and many of my classmates always kept me laughing with their jokes. When things like this bring smiles to my face, you know I am having a blast. What I also liked about my class was, it wasn't like the typical college class. We did not have typical lectures and discussions with our TA's. All the work we turn in is graded directly by our professors rather than by the TA's. Classes with this set up allows more opportunities for communication and conversations with the professors in which was the case for me. At the beginning of the program, I did not think the class would be so interactive or that I would be so connected with my professors. I have had various times where I just walk up to Mark or Reneta McCarthy and asked a question and it would just sprout into different topics to converse over. This is the type of relationship I would like to have with my teachers. Hopefully, I will still be able to keep in contact with my professors somehow.

Living with a roommate has definitely taught me the art of compromise. I know my five other comrades have developed close relationships with their roommate. Unfortunately, I was not able to engage in such an intimate connection with mine. I wish I did, however. Since my roommate, Leann, and I rarely ever saw each other, and therefore, rarely ever spoke to each other, we were only able to develop a sense of respect for one another. That is the very first step to living with a roommate. Without respect, nothing will ever go in the right direction and there will never be room to grow. Sometimes, I feel that time was not the only factor in our lack of relationship In college, most times people roomed together in a single dormitory became quickly and exceptionally familiar with each other. However, sometimes it just depends. I really do feel I should have made more of an effort to connect with my roommate. Living in a dorm building is an entirely different story. The floor I lived on was always so lively and always in action. No one could stay bored. When one has nothing to do, always look at the activities that may be going on in the building's lounges. Life can always be found in the dormitory building.

As a post-secondary institution, Cornell is extremely elite and highly selective. Everything about it suggests quality. It has been said the Cornell is named as one of the most beautiful campuses in America, or maybe even in the world. I must agree. It is different from other campuses in that it is surrounded by the beauty of nature itself. Each and every day, I found myself realizing a new feature of Cornell's surroundings that contribute to the beauty it presents. Today, some of us hotelies took a different route to class. We took a side bridge that went over one of the waterfalls in the gorges. It was absolutely breathtaking. Only Cornell would be able to offer such a splendid adventure. Even after taking the campus tour today and learning so many new facts, I must say Cornell can never cease to amaze me. The only flaw on campus that I can find is the construction of a new science building that disrupts the peaceful aura of the campus.

Sadly, after being here for three weeks, I do not really see myself attending Cornell or live in such a rural environment everyday. I am not saying will not consider applying to Cornell, since I know Cornell will be able to offer me a wonderful education. I do not see myself working well in this type of environment though. Having experienced what it is like to be at Cornell and this type of college environment, I feel that I fit better in a more urban setting. I found it incredibly inconvenient to have to walk 20 minutes to class everyday. Although, walking did seem to grow on me. I needed the exercise anyways. I hope no one gets me wrong. I am definitely not degrading the school in anyway nor am I speaking for anyone else. My opinion about Cornell is solely my own. For others, Cornell could ultimately be the perfect choice.

If anyone would like to attend Cornell or participate in the Summer College program, some suggestions I would make are 1) BRING AN UMBRELLA AT ALL TIMES!, 2) download Microsoft Office 2007, 3) pack light, 4) make sure to bring a calculator is definitely needed for Hotel Operations Management, 5)hotelies should learn business jargon, 6) be confident in and optimistic of all the opportunities you encounter, 7) work hard, and 8) HAVE AN AWESOME TIME!