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.

Friday, July 10, 2009

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!


  1. Louisa,

    I don’t know if you saw some of my earlier comments written about working as a team. I had mentioned that when it comes to my grade, I didn’t trust ANYONE else to be a part of it.

    I think that maybe you can see something of which I wrote after what happened with your teammate. Of course she’s entitled to her opinion but her responsibility was to project those concerns much earlier. What did she think she was going to change at that late moment? And who did she think she was to highjack your project and turn it into her own?

    Doing anything by committee, Louisa, is a sure path towards failure. Every team needs a leader and someone to have the final say on things. In a situation like yours, the team may be small enough not to need a leader but there has to be a mechanism in place where the team can vote on things and everyone has to agree to go with the majority. If they can’t, then they need to approach the instructors and find a way out or off of that team.

    I truly enjoyed reading this blog, Louisa. You provided a lot of useful information, insights, suggestions and observations. It’s through students like yourself that we have learned so much about the program, OUR program, how we can make things better and even suggestions we can make to the schools so they can make things better.

    Without your input we never would have made Office 2007 one of our highest priorities for the WHOLE ILC program next year and we wouldn’t have known to put a calculator on the ‘to bring’ list.

    Even your comments about your roommate were invaluable to us. We need to write to Cornell and explain how rooming people in different programs can bring about problems like you mentioned. One of the great parts of this whole experience is meeting new people and if you’re not able to meet with your own roommate, how successful can this program be?

    I don’t want to burst any bubbles, Louisa, but I think that you’ll find that a 15-20 minute walk from your residence to your classrooms is pretty much the norm. At Cal, it may take you 10-15 minutes just to walk from one class to another (and half of them are all uphill). Such is life. At a lot of schools, Stanford being one, things are spread out enough to justify using a bicycle to get around. Some schools, though won’t let you bike across campus (too many crazies behind the handlebars practicing for being bad drivers on the freeways).

    Thanks again, Louisa, for the great blog.

  2. I agree with Don that this was a great post. However, no matter where you go to college you will have challenges even walking twenty mintues to class.

    Louisa, you have a lot of talent and now is the time to make the most out of it. You will have to relinguish home and become your own voice and your own person. It is part of the matriculation process. Yes, it is hard, but it is part of life. We all have to leave the nest. You have had the chance to see what it looks like at an earlier age.

    I am glad that you are opening up to Cornell. Only at the highly selective private schools do you have the one on one opportunity to work with professors. I would strongly recommend that you look at Rice University, which is in a big city and Washington University in St. Louis. They have a big city feel with a small student to faculty ration. Ms. Kim can tell you all about its programs and it academics. Both schools are highly selective and they do not have the lecture hall feel.

    So please continue to work hard and use this time to find yourself. Your family will never, ever leave you, but you need to find the right fit for you and it definitely does not necessarily have to be in California. Just like I mentioned to Justine, find the right school and everything else will take care of itself.

    Take care.

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

  3. Louisa,

    Wonderful blog.

    And yes, teams can be a challenge. The great part about a team is that you are working with others and learning their ideas -- and that can also be the challenge of the team.

    Anyhow, you will have many more teams to be a part of and the lesson here is for the team to keep checking in with each member to see if they are in agreement.

    As has been said, the 20 minute walk is pretty standard for a college. There are some VERY small colleges that have the dorms almost on top of the classrooms -- but that is probably not your best way to prioritize your school choice.

    Get on College Match again and make sure you emphasize urban, small class size, and your major choices, and see what comes up.

    As we keep saying, over and over again, for each student it is all about FIT -- and I know that your new insights are going to help you find yours.

    Travel safely.