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, July 6, 2009

The Beginning of the End

Today is our third and final Monday of our three week stay here in Ithaca, NY... THE BEGINNING OF OUR LAST WEEK. The course is winding down, but the work load is, of course, living up to the rigor of the class. As our final week, we will be discussing equality - its opposite, its economic perception, and its social view - in the eyes of Burke, Marx, M.L. King, and Malcolm X. 

Today's lecture...
I. Burke (1729 - 1797): Life and Times
- The French Revolution
II. Burke's Ideas:
a. Human Nature
b. Government AS Authority
c. History, Tradition, and Custom
d. Hierarchy and Inequality

Though the outline is much shorter than past ones, the content of the discussion and the depth of the analysis was most certainly not lacking. Burke is a philosopher who believed people were not, as is commonly stated, born equal. Instead, we are each born with different expertise - an argument with visible links to Plato. It was an interesting read and, of course, another wonderful lecture from Professor K.

Today, the alphabetical list of seven students hit the Ms, and so I had the honor of having lunch with Professor Kramnick, along with six of my other colleagues - four of which are in my discussion section. Justine and Ramiah had already had lunch with him, and they assured me it was nothing brutal, just a laid back, getting to know one another type of thing. They were right. We just went around the table introducing ourselves, stating where we're from, what kind of a high school we attended, what our parents do, how we heard about Cornell University's Summer College, and what we want to be when we grow up. Professor Kramnick would ask a few additional questions in between, but it was nothing difficult. I'm used to having lunch with Justine and Ramiah everyday, so they were much missed. But it was a new experience, and I greatly enjoyed getting to talk to Professor Kramnick on a more personal level.

I realize with every passing day the level of my enjoyment here at Cornell. The class comes with its difficulties and everyone has their downfalls, but overall, I have had a positive experience in this university. I definitely love the small class sizes of private institutions and the more one-on-one work that is able to get done due to the limited number of students. That is one of the most important things for me. I want to attend a solid school with a small faculty-to-student ratio. I want to be able to develop lasting connections with my professors, my TAs and my colleagues, not simply familiarize myself with thousands of faces but never uncover the true nature of the person behind the face. 

I also find myself in awe of the beautiful architecture of every building on campus. It would be great to be at a school that possesses a comparable beauty to Cornell, whether in its environment or its buildings. For the get-go, I've known I'm an urban girl. I need city life, and Cornell just doesn't give me that. This has been my main concern/ issue with this university. The past three weeks here, however, have somewhat altered the necessity of an urban surrounding for me. I'm still not positive that I could attend school here in Ithaca for weeks on end without going mad crazy, but I've gotten a lot better in this time period. Who knows? Maybe by next year, a rural setting is what I will want. The east coast, however, is something I could definitely do. Stanford still remains my number one choice, but I am extremely open to my options and I will continue to explore until application time. But Cornell has made its way to the top of my list, to maybe somewhere around second or third. We will see how fate plays out within the next few months.

Until then, I will enjoy the last five days of my stay here and make the absolute most out of every single moment. It will certainly be difficult to leave. I feel as though I've changed a great deal because of what I've experienced while at Cornell, and I will return a completely new person. This stay has shaped me in ways I never thought possible. But I should have known. That's exactly what the Ivy League Connection does for you. It changes you for the better. And you are never, ever the same.

- xoxo, Julia.


  1. Julia,

    You never really told us whether you buy into the theory that we’re not all born equal.

    I’m always telling people that none of us was born knowing how to do anything and that we all had to be taught everything. While it might sound good to say that we’re all born equal and that some people don’t turn out as well as others because of their environment and the opportunities presented to them but do you buy into that?

    This is an argument that has been floating around for more than a half a century with fervent arguments taking place on both sides.

    Personally, I don’t buy it. I know that I was born with more stuff in my head than some people and not as much as others (plus, I burned up a lot of my brain cells while at Berkeley having fun).

    Tell us what you think, Julia.

    Sounds like a nice lunch you had with Professor K. I’m thinking that being in the latter rotation might have given you an advantage in that you know more about your prof and can talk to him more fluently. What do you think? Did it help you?

    As you wade through your selection process for the right college you’re going to be pressured a lot into giving undue weight to Ivy League schools and others from back east. People are going to make you feel guilty for even considering local schools like Stanford, Cal and UCLA. They’re going to try to pooh-pooh those schools because they are NOT back east as if being here on the west coast or being local makes them bad schools. These schools may be the perfect fit for you, Julia. You may even decide that a school in Texas or Montana may be right for you.

    The bottom line, Julia, is that you need to make your decision based on what’s best for YOU and not any of us. Never let our biases about schools or regions be the deciding factor for you (except for UCLA—UCLA sucks).

    What we’ve tried to do for you is provide you with options you might never have considered before and we’ve expanded your thinking process so you now know how to make your selection. But what you do with it all is still our decision to make.

  2. Now watch it, you have a UCLA man in the house. I do agree with Don that your decision must be based on your interest. Attending a school that is not what you will want will only result in you not feeling completely comfident with the decision.

    However, it is important to consult with people and hear their perspective. It never hurts to reach out and talk with people. I feel that you have done your due diligence and have created a matrix that will take in multiple factors, so I am not worried about you. I am also glad that you have kept all of your options open.

    However, you will get a dose of reality when you find out that highly selective colleges more or less choose you rather than you choosing them. It is very difficult to get admitted to one of the top 15 schools in the country and Cornell is in that Category. The UC's are great, but they are not in the Top 15 schools in the country. This does not mean they are inferior or that they do not carry the same level of intensity, but the UC's and for that matter other land grant institutions are here for the masses. This is a good thing because the more we have an educated society the better we all are.

    However, Burke is right everyone is not born with the same skill set. Unlike him, I tend not to be pessimistic. Although people are not born equal, we all have something to contribute and I hope that you see that our district, although not perfect has tried to give all of you something to be proud of. No, we are not Moraga or Piedmont, but we are a group of hard working people that want to do what we can to help our students.

    Your journey and exploration are now in full swing and I believe that you are ready and prepared for the upcoming process in finding a college that fits your needs. Please continue to keep us informed and let us know ultimately what University is lucky enough to have you grace their campus.

    Finally, try to get a campus tour in before you leave, it could answer a lot of your questions.

    Enjoy your day.

    Charles T. Ramsey, Esq.
    School Board Member
    West Contra Costa
    Unified School District