Being an ILCer was a journey on its own and one that I could never forget. It was strange because a little bit of me was just trying to test how well my writing skills were and it resulted in me getting a scholarship to study at an Ivy League school. I felt that a mixture of luck and destiny came into play somehow as for the fact that this was the only program I had applied for. However I didn't 100% to get in at all. And the fact that I did really made me feel that larger strings were being pulled towards a bigger destiny.
It was such a different experience for me. Never before had I gone through such a process like a fancy dinner worth thousands of dollars, a presentation to thank the board and seeing an Ivy League school in general. When I look back at all of the events we were required to go to, I was doubtful at first however I realized how naive I was. Listening to all of the different testimonials and previous blogs, I realized that I had to keep up a legacy for multiple people. Because I was apart of something even bigger than me.
From the time with me staying at the Omni hotel in Chicago to all the meals that the district managed to pay for us, I really began to see myself as someone special enough to get the chance to have this opportunity. Being apart of this program really made me think harder at the fact that I was chosen for a reason and making sure that everyone would be able to benefit from me being chosen.
Being at Cornell as an ILCer was a completely different experience and was the real point where I realized what my true purpose at the program was. Unlike other kids that paid for their own stay at Cornell, being on a scholarship made me feel like I had a certain weight on my shoulder, or an obligation to uphold--besides having to blog nightly. I felt like as an Ivy League Connectioner, there was duty in the name. I see the three words and interpret it as connecting other people in my hometown with the idea of getting to attend an Ivy League school and if not that then getting the benefits from other people who attend. Especially being in my Public Policy class and the things that I learned related to the election and things with economics, I feel like my community would benefit so much from what I learned. From our lack of participation in community elections to our high obesity rate, learning about so many of these topics and how it endangers my community makes me feel obligated to help address it. This is where that key word "connection" comes in. As an ILCer, I feel that being at Cornell really helped me realize that I can't just take the scholarship as something that only I deserve, but something that my community deserves to benefit from as well. And after taking my public policy class I was able to see it.
I can't begin to thank all of the people that believed in me and helped me go through my process of growing as a person and seeing my true values through this program. I want to thank the interviewers for choosing me and seeing my potential, and Mike for helping to guide us through everything to make sure we don't get side tracked, and Don for making the opportunity even possible. I realize that the gift will not be one sided and that after returning home from this program it's my duty to make sure that the benefits reach all.
As someone that is a part of ILC, I realized that I wasn't given the scholarship to fully benefit from alone.
I was given the scholarship to learn how to help better my community.