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

Fruits of my Labor

I cannot believe today was our last Monday at Cornell. When we met for breakfast this morning I knew that we only had four more times to do so. I remember the first week seemed to go by so slow, but overall our stay here has gone by really quickly. I have formed some new habits while here; like eating eggs, potatoes, and french toast for breakfast every morning. I think one of the biggest changes will be the time spent with Julia and Justine. I have really grown close to these two exceptional young ladies, and I am very glad to have done so.

Lecture today started with the life and times of Edmond Burke. Professor Kramnick talked about the French Revolution and how it shaped Burke’s ideas. The main points covered in the lecture were human rights, government as authority, history, tradition, custom, hierarchy, and inequality. Reading Burke amongst the philosophers who argue for equality was very helpful; especially since we have already covered Plato and his hierarchical beliefs. Burke is one who believes equality among all people is absurd, and that we practice inequality every day. In discussion we further analyzed his arguments and went into political nakedness. This concept speaks to how without certain rights people are left vulnerable. Burke claims that racism is practiced in this aspect - one example being through citizenship which makes rights national rather than natural. (I do hope that I am not confusing anyone, I know that our discussion can get very abstract. Nonetheless I love following the arguments we all make.)

At the end of our discussion session our preliminary exams were returned to us. I was quite pleased with my grade. I received an A- on the essay portion, and three A’s and two B’s on the quotes; giving me an overall grade of a B+. I was so happy; Julia, Justine and I all did very well. Our TA was also rather pleased with the class as a whole. The grade I received definitely provided a boost to my confidence – but do not worry, there is still a healthy amount of fearful caution.

After lunch we had our writing workshop. The second draft of our Plato essays were due and we did another peer edit. I actually got to read Julia’s essay, and I must admit, I can clearly see why our TA always picks hers as his favorite. (I am not just saying that; Mr. Desmond chose only Julia’s Freedom essay to read to the class as a good example. Also,today when he was reading our introduction paragraphs out loud, he said he would have used hers.)

I did not have the heart to spend too much time interviewing my roommate today because she had an extreme amount of reading to do. I have, however, learned that Cornell is definitely on her list of schools she is applying to; but she has not decided which is her first choice.

The rain also returned today. Julia, Justine, and I actually got caught in it when we met Mr. Crossley at the Balch dorm for check-in. I guess two days without rain was all Ithaca is going to give us.



  1. Ramiah,
    Very informative and well written. I can feel your excitement and personal fullfillment during this unique experience. Continue your good work. You make us all proud.
    Dr Bullard

  2. Ramiah, hopefully doing well in this class clearly provides ample evidence that hard work, preparation and confidence are the ingredients that create success. The months and months of constant harping and remainders about reading and analyzing your material has now paid huge dividends.

    There is a lesson to all of this, that one must constantly be vigilent. When you return to Hercules High School I hope that in your leadership class you will share with everyone what you learned this summer. By doing so you will have honored the program and shown that all of us working together can create a college going culture in our district.

    Today will be your final day at Cornell for the Freedom and Justice Course. Who knows if it will be your final day at Cornell. You may decide that want to attend college at Cornell. I hope that you will apply to this well respected academic institution. I also hope that you apply to other highly selective Colleges and Universiities, like Harvard, Stanford and Dartmouth. You have earned the right to be at the top of list.

    I plan to notify your interviewers about how well everything went this summer. I am also inclined to have a small private event with Wally Gordon, my brother Ismail Ramsey and Judge Joni Hiromoto at my home. I am thinking that a reunion is in order. All of you have worked incredibly hard and as a result the ILC is shining!

    We understand that your roommate is under the hot ultraviolet rays called finals week and I am sure that she will provide a window to have a comprehensive conversation with her by the end of the week. We would value learning more about her experience and why she chose to attend the Cornell Summer Studies Program.

    So keep up the good work and don't let up on the gas, you still have a final for Friday.

    Take care.

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

  3. Ramiah,

    Without being repetitive, I have to agree with much of what Charles wrote about being prepared and be diligent. Doesn’t it feel good when you know what you’re doing?

    I also want to agree with what Charles wrote about your own abilities. I’ve been telling you this since I saw your first interview so many months back about how impressed I’ve been with you. I just wish you could see you through the same eyes that some of us see you and maybe you’d have more confidence in yourself. There’s a fine line between having confidence and being arrogant but I’m betting you know where that line is.