Thursday, May 28, 2015

Fine Dining With Columbia

Yesterday night on 5/26/2015, I had the privilege to both dine and associate with the most interesting people I will ever meet. Last night I was able to attend the infamous Ivy League Connection Dinner with multiple sponsors, Columbia Alumni, and WCCUSD school board members.

I'd say that my wonderful night began at the El Cerrito Plaza BART station. I arrived at around 5PM, ten minutes before the required meeting time. Izabel and I were the first ones on seen along with our mothers. Soon after, more cohort members started to arrive along with Don Gosney, other Columbia Alums, and WCCUSD Board Trustee Madeline Kronenberg and her husband.

The BART ride was quite pleasant as I had the chance to talk with Columbia Alum by the name of Sophie Evans-Boroditsky , Mrs. Kronenberg and her husband. I told them that I had a great interest in the United States Military Academy (USMA), and along the ride we discussed the USMA's  application process, history, campus, and nominations. I was greatly inspired by Mrs. Kronenberg's efforts in helping me connect with Congressman Mark Desaulnier, for a USMA nomination.

After a thirty minute BART ride, we finally arrived at Embarcadero Station in San Francisco. I'll never forget rising from the underground station and seeing the beautiful skyscrapers towering above me while simultaneously feeling the cold Bay Area wind breeze past me. I barely go to San Francisco, so this feeling was just amazing.

Shortly after regrouping from the BART station, our cohort and our guests continued our journey on foot to Prospect, the restaurant we were to dine in. Along the way, I was able to have a brief chat with Mr. Kronenberg, who was surprisingly also a Columbia grad with a JD in Law. We talked briefly about law school and I was able to ask questions on the different legal professions available. During our brief walk, I was able to know my cohort a bit better while at the same time admire the sights and sounds that San Francisco had to offer.

Upon arriving at Prospect, I felt my heartbeat start to race. I was completely at awe upon walking through the darkly lit ornate restaurant. Once we were about to enter the reserved room, I took a deep breath and with my fellow cohort member Alyanna,  we counted to three and took our first step into our very first Ivy League Connection Dinner.
My mom and I at Prospect in San Francisco.

I was surprised to find that seating was assigned, and we were matched up to sit with different sponsors and Columbia Alumni from very different backgrounds. I myself had the pleasure of sitting with former WCCUSD School Board President Charles Ramsey,'09 Columbia Alum Ilana Somasunderam, Erica Perry, and Leonard Berry who is currently the managing director at Backstrom McCarley Berry & Co., LLC.
Hors O'devours Sir?

Before dinner started, everyone had the chance to mingle with one another. Don had specifically stated before the dinner to get out of our shells and talk with the sponsors and alums. After a minute of awkwardly waling around, I decided to take the chance to talk more with Mrs. Konenberg and Mr. Charles Ramsey. We discussed the newly founded AFJROTC program at my school and other matters regarding the ILC and education. It was really nice to be able to have such an intellectual discussion with not only Mr. Ramsey and Mrs. Kronenberg, but also with the other sponsors who have helped to make this all possible!
Me with Mrs. Kronenberg (Left) and Mr. Ramsey (Right)

After the reception, all of the guests took our seats and Mrs. Kronenberg gave the welcoming remarks. One by one, my cohort members and I all stood up and told all the sponsors and alums what school we were from, what course we were taking, and what grade we were in. Shortly after, I presented my speech. I spoke about what we, as a cohort, hope to learn from Columbia, what we wanted to see, and our main priority of giving back to our friends and family the importance of a college degree. After speaking, Mitchell Flax, an '09 Columbia grad, spoke on why Columbia was right for him and how it can be for us. 

Once we began dinner, I was able to both enjoy excellent San Francisco stake with individuals with amazing professional backgrounds. Columbia Alum Ilana Somasunderderam was a former teacher at my school and is currently an environmental media specialist at San Francisco State. Mr. Leonard Barry is a managing director with his own firm who works with big associations, one of them being San Francisco International Airport as their top client. Along with these two amazing individuals were Erica Perry and Fred Powell.

Charles Ramsey I thought was the most inspiring person at our table. Mr. Ramsey discussed the importance of speaking out and making your voice heard. Mr. Ramsey drilled into my head the most important life lesson that I will never forget in my future career, "Closed mouths don't get fed." I learned from Mr. Ramsey the true utmost importance of the value of making sure your voice is heard. 
Toward the end of our exquisite dinner, our cohort and Columbia Alums got together and took a group photo. We all stood as a group in one corner of the room with huge welcoming smiles on our faces as we looked directionless because of the multiple cameras.
Future Columbia Lions Maybe?

After a delicious dinner, over packed BART trains, and an overabundance of picture taking, we finally made it back to El Cerrito Plaza Station. We exchanged goodbyes and walked back out into the freezing Bay Area wind. It was a truly unforgettable night, and I will treasure this day for many years to come. Thanks again to our sponsors, the Columbia Alums, and the ILC. Just from tonight alone, I can tell that this summer is gonna be a blast!

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