Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A Wake Up Call

My ConLaw class today didn't just serve its purpose as being educational and informative, but also worked as a wake up call.

Class started off normal as usual. We went over our homework from last night and went over an essay written by James Madison entitled "Federalist No. 10". Madison debates the negativity of the formation of factions in the United States and lists reasons why factions are troublesome for our Union. 

Numerous class discussions arose once Michelle went over Madison's views on what causes factions. The most controversial of which was Madison's argument that the roots of factions can be found in the selfishness of human nature. Michelle brought up the topic of whether we agreed with Madison's view of human nature, and the class ended up spending almost an hour in debate. This is where I felt my wake up call.

Many of my classmates spoke with eloquence and substance in their opinions on human nature. Their answers were so impressive, that I honestly felt as if I did not belong in a class filled with such intellectuals. Until one student, Carson, gave one of the most powerful arguments on the side stating that human beings are indeed selfish in nature. The class fell into complete silence until Michelle asked if there was any student willing to challenge Carson's argument. Me, being the overly confident person that I am, rose my hand and challenged his argument. I based my argument on the fact that when a natural disaster occurs, human beings are willing to invest billions of dollars in humanitarian efforts just to help out a country in distress, showing that humans still contain that sense of selflessness when other humans are in danger. Carson quickly struck back stating that my statement can still be related to selfish human nature since most of these countries (the US specifically) participate in humanitarian efforts to show off its ability of global reach and military strength.
Notes from today's lecture. Yep, I'm kind of organized.
I was completely shocked by Carson's deliberation, and I was unable to respond, ending the discussion. Now this event right here is what made me think, "Why is it that these people are more informed than me?" "Why is it that many students in our district can't be as informed as these guys?" "What makes them "better" and how can I get to their level?". All of these questions zipped through my mind as I became more humbled in a way. I left class with a somewhat negative outlook on the coming weeks. As I walked to the dining hall I said to myself, "Just because you're here on a scholarship doesn't mean you deserve to be here, you need to work to deserve to be here.”

Case Brief
With some newly founded motivation, I got to the afternoon session of class earlier and found a seat next to Carson (Hey, if ya can't beat 'em, join 'em, right?) It turns out Carson is a Californian like myself, and is currently living in the San Ramon area. Surprisingly, we both got along pretty quickly.

We spent the next hour going over the case, McCulloch V. Maryland. I find this case very interesting as it goes back into the roots that our nation was established. The case touches on the relationship between both Congress and the Constitution and the states. Personally, I really enjoyed going over this case as I learned the fundamentals of looking through the Constitution to find the constitutionality of a law and how to properly brief cases like this (thanks to my buddy Carson!). In this case, one question that arose were whether Congress opening a bank was constitutional. Together with Carson, I was able to find the answer in Article 1, Section 8. After the first hour of class, we watched a thirty minute video that showed Philadelphia high school students asking Justices Sandra Day O' Connor and Justice William Rehnquist questions about our constitution.

Well, that pretty much wraps up today's events. For me, today wasn't just a day to learn, but it was a day to mature. These are the kinds of people that I'll be competing with in college applications, and today I realized that it's time to step up my game. My cohort and I came here to represent the kids who are  among the less fortunate. We're here not just to show that just because we're from "the hood" doesn't mean we can't compete at the collegiate level. We're also here to experience the competition, the sleepless nights, and the independence from our normal lives so we can give back to the folks back home in Richmond. And that is what I'm here to do.
This is what ConLaw does to you.


  1. Don't worry about feeling intimidated. This blog shows that you are really thinking about your content and bring substance to your class work. I love the way you made friends with someone you had an intellectual debate with--this is what people do that are truly curious about the world. Keep up the good work!

  2. This is the kind of stuff that I was waiting to read. Now you saw the very core purpose of ILC program, “for you guys to be exposed in the broader world”- to see what is lucking in you as well as experience the level of competition out there. Your few “why’s” are the reasons why you are there in Columbia. If it happens that you are at the level of the most talented students in your class then you are at the wrong place, because you have no more room to grow. Their eloquence, their knowledge and their ability to debate are something that you need to set as a goal. Remember, you are there not to compete, but primarily to grow. Even if your argument fell flat, still you voiced out your opinion, and that is better than being quiet and unheard.