I first heard about ILC when my brother got into the University of Pennsylvania for Experimental Physics during his sophomore year, which was about three years ago. I knew as soon as he got in that I would want to apply when I became a sophomore and I specifically wanted to go to UPenn because it's one of my top choices and because the program was the longest out of all the other ILC programs. I wanted to be as independent for as long as I could. So, when Don came to Pinole to do his ILC presentation I was set on going to UPenn for their Social Justice Academy. Unfortunately, I didn't even make it to the interview stage for the UPenn program and needless to say, I was absolutely devastated. I didn't know if there were going to be any more programs offered and so I started researching other summer programs I could do.
It was already super late into the semester and most programs had already closed, but I thankfully one day receive the email with the Cornell Hotel Management application and I immediately go through all the prompts and details for it. I knew that this was my last chance at participating in ILC during my sophomore year and I had to take it. After my brother reprimanded me the last time about the UPenn application, I decided that I would take full advantage of all those around me for this application. I spent almost five days editing my pre-essays and regular essay for the Cornell program and I asked more than ten people to read through my essay and tell me their opinions. I asked a lot of past ILCers, but there were a couple of non-ILCers as well. It was probably one of the hardest I'd ever worked on an essay.
I send in my essays and hope for the best. It takes another week or two before Don emails back to those who got into the interview. I had gone to Disneyland with the marching band and was on the way back when I received the email and I quite literally squealed on the bus. Katherine Phan, somebody who helped edit my essay, was right behind me and congratulates me. It was one of my happiest moments even though I had yet to actually get into the program.
After I get home and unpack, I start asking people to mock interview me. I end up mock interviewing about 4-5 times. I arrived first with Diana (we went together). We took our pictures with Don and wrote our names on little cards. When everyone arrived and wrote their names on cards, we chose our interview number. I'm actually the last one to get a card, so I didn't get to pick, but I got the third number. I don't really freak out because I tend to freak out the minute before I actually do something so I was fine at that moment. The second interviewer finishes up and Don is there to take me to be interviewed. I start freaking a little, but I knew that I would be fine once I sit down. After entering the room, I shake all of their hands and introduce myself. I tell them, "My name is Shuxin. Like a shoe that is singing, but don't emphasize the g."
We go right into the interview and I thought all of my answers, posture, hand gestures, eye contact, etc. were decent enough. I make them laugh a couple of times and that was reassuring. After everyone finishes interviewing, Don announces the Cornell Cohort and my name was called second. I couldn't believe it. I was so incredibly happy and grateful. All my hard work had paid off.
Right after the interview, I worked on my actual application to Cornell for the next day or so. I also get the recommendation from my business teacher. It was a super busy next couple of days, but it taught me a lot about working under pressure and short time. I literally got so many emails from Don that my entire first page was filled with just Don. I turned in all of the necessary paperwork and essays and my life is pretty relaxed with ILC for about the next month.
After AP tests finish, we do all the meet and greets, dinners, board meetings, and orientations. It was really hectic, but I enjoyed the alumni dinner the most. I got to meet Hummd and talk all about my life and the Cornell alumni who all raved about Cornell. One alumnus, Doug Mitarotonda, liked Cornell so much he went there for undergrad, graduate, possibly PhD. Other than the amazing food, I also got super excited for Cornell after hearing all of their stories. That was probably when it really hit me that I would be away from home for three weeks at Cornell.
Fast Forward throughout all of my Cornell experience, five planes, and all the packing I'm now home writing this blog. My ILC experience has been crazy hectic, but something I will treasure forever. I learned so much about communication, following instructions, and even packing while going through ILC and for that I am extremely grateful to everyone who helped make it possible for me to go to Cornell. I would have never been able to visit University of Chicago to realize that I want to apply early decision there or experience the rigor and pains of taking a college course at Cornell. I would have never met all of my new friends from all over the US and world or take pictures with a waterfall slapping water right onto my face. I wouldn't have really even gone anywhere outside my house if not for ILC. The amount of work ILC required was very tiring when all I wanted to do was sleep, but it's taught me a lot and I wouldn't have rather done anything else during this time. Thank you to everyone that's followed me throughout this journey and made it possible.