Thursday, July 31, 2014

My Great Journey Coming to the End...

I remember the day of my interview for the Ivy League Connection. I was one of the nine who were emailed to get interviewed to go to Vanderbilt for the summer. I was so nervous and my hands began to get clammy. I saw students who were chosen come in with this bold confidence that I thought I didn't have. Don called me to go first and I walked in to the classroom corridor to my interview, not knowing that later that corridor was my door to one of the best opportunities of my life.

Being part of the Ivy League Connection has wonderfully opened me to a whole new set of opportunities. If I was asked whether I wanted to go to a college in the East Coast or out of state overall before the Ivy League Connection, I would have said no. The Ivy League Connection has allowed me to see what the East Coast is really like and clear any misconceptions I had about it. I have broaden my knowledge about the schools there and I have experienced great things.

Every event the that the Ivy League Connections sponsors has a point and meaning to it and reflecting back, I know what I have learned from them. For example, the dinners were very useful and helpful. Looking back, not only did I remember the delicious food I ate but I also remembered all the interesting people I met. Those people included: alumni, students, sponsors, and admission administrators. Although they were making sure they were selling their school to us, they also were able to help me understand certain aspects of going to school on the East Coast on a larger scale.

The first dinner with the Vanderbilt alumni.

My favorite dinner was the Georgetown dinner. I felt as if that I connected with everyone very well. I thought out of all the dinners, I connected with the students there the most. I have great contact with them and they helped me understand what I am looking for in colleges when I apply. We also discussed some tips about college applications and standardized testing, which will be useful to me soon.

Another important aspect of being part of the Ivy League Connection is that I was able to go on college tours. We had a college tour at Columbia, University of Pennsylvania, and Georgetown. Going on the college tours were helpful to me because I learned what colleges on the East Coast are looking for in students and what they require for them to apply. I also learned what the standardized testing requirements were to apply, which will be useful later. 

One thing that I realized was that most colleges take the ACT and the SAT. My school tells students, colleges prefer the SAT over ACT, therefore we aren't informed about the ACT at all. I want this to change because we need to understand what both the standardized testing are about and how to improve ourselves when we take them.

Although we had a chaperone, we were mainly independent for most of the trip. I had a lot of mixed feeling about being independent for the time. During the first week of the trip I realized that being independent was actually pretty nice. I liked having more control of my life and doing certain things for myself. Since I was farther away from home, it allowed me to understand that I can handle being away from home and I can take care of myself just as well. 

During the three weeks of session at VSA, I met some of the most amazing people and students. I loved working with students who were just as ambitious and driven. I don't usually get the chance to work with student who are just as motivated as I am. Working in a high thriving environment was different from the environment in my public school. In my class, Speicial Topics in Math, we  definitely explored different topics at a fast pace. I loved my class because we went over certain topics and theories in math that are never explained. For example, game theory, number theory, and the Fibonacci numbers. I admired how we were able to test out each theory and work on certain puzzlers that allowed us to understand why they work. Not only did I learn certain math topics but I also learned how to better myself as a student and skills that I can use later in my high school career. The classes I take at my regular public school can't compare with the experience I had in that class.

Me, Stephanie, Chiamaka, Abigail

My lovely cohort.

My cohort representing our love for Vanderbilt.

Me and these beautiful ladies.
Being part of the Vanderbilt Summer Academy was an amazing experience. I met students that taught me different things I never knew. I met people that made an ever-lasting impression on me. I will remember each and every wonderful soul that I have met. I will definitely stay in contact with them. I have been part of this great community of students who are just down right amazing. Being part of the VSA family, as we like to call it, is something that I can't forget nor let go because it has impacted my life.

The Ivy League Connection is hard work. It took a lot of effort and dedication to be part of this program. The process of being accepted was stressful, but it was worth it. Being a representative of the Ivy League Connection is something I take pride in. I have learned so much from this program and I have bettered myself as a student and as an individual. There is not enough ways to show my gratitude for the Ivy League Connection, their sponsors, my cohort, and my chaperone because they made it possible for me to have that best time of my life. I just can't wait to teach everyone what I've learned. I am so thankful to have been chosen for this opportunity and to be part of this great program.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The ILC Journey: From Start to Finish

I first heard about the ILC in tenth grade when Don came to our school. The idea of going to the East Coast had seemed very foreign, but I applied anyways; however, I was not successful. I realized that I had lost a great opportunity, so I applied again my junior year. I was determined to apply to Vanderbilt, and my determination proved worthy at the interview.

I was very nervous on the day of the interview, and what made me more nervous was that this was my last chance. When I heard my name called at the interview, there were no words that could describe my excitement; and, my excitement did not end there. After the interview, we had numerous events- dinners, school board meetings, and orientations- that prepared me for my trip. These events gave me the opportunity to meet Vanderbilt alumni and learn about their experiences.
Then came the day when we had to leave for the airport. It was an emotional time for me because I had never traveled without my parents; the longest I had stayed away from them was only a couple of days. It was hard saying good-bye, but I knew that great opportunities awaited me.

I really enjoyed touring the different colleges the first couple of days. Before this trip, the only college I had honestly visited was UC Berkeley- which is fifteen minutes away from my house. However, after this trip, I became more open-minded about other colleges. For instance, I learned that a college called Georgetown University existed and that it has a great medical program.

I also greatly benefitted from the dinners with the alumni and admission officers. At first, it was a bit nerve-wrecking to talk with admission officers, but I realized that they were only there to help me. I was able to clarify questions that I had about college.

When we first had arrived at Vanderbilt, I was very nervous and I even felt a little homesick. I had become close friends with Shanti and Chiamaka, and I was afraid to be separated from them. Fortunately, we were all in the same proctor group- which provided some comfort. Being naturally quiet, I was worried about making friends; I was worried about what type of roommate I would get. My roommate was a great person, and she became one of my close friends. It was hard to make friends at first because a lot of the students were returners and already knew each other. It took a while, but I did make friends in the first couple of days. VSA had planned a lot of fun activities that made it easier to meet new people and bond together. I soon became a part of the VSA family.

I also met a lot of great students in my Med School class. The Med School class exceeded my expectations. I was given the opportunity to shadow physicians; I was able to shadow a neurologist and ask questions about the profession- which could potentially be my future profession. I was also able to go into the OR and see a spinal cord surgery. The instructors for the class were amazing; they addressed any questions we had about medical school. I realized that medical school requires a lot of work, but it is fun at the same time; during their third year in medical school, medical students are able to shadow physicians around the hospital. I also discovered that Vanderbilt has a great medical program, so I have started considering Vanderbilt has an option for college.
Outside of the classroom, the dorm rooms were a whole different experience. I had to do everything on my own, from taking out the trash to maintaining a clean, tidy room. I also had to make sure that my actions complied with those of my roommate’s. The dorm rooms gave me a sense of independence because my mother wasn’t telling me to pick up after myself or telling me to eat healthy food. I had to make these small but important decisions on my own. The dorm rooms truly gave me a hands-on experience on an important element of college life.

The ILC has tremendously impacted my life, and I can’t thank Don, Mr. Ramsey, Ms. Kronenberg, and Mr. Mannix enough for this. I feel much more prepared for college than I was just a month ago. College no longer seems like a far and foreign dream. The ILC encouraged me to break out my shell and step out of my comfort zone. Although the trip is over, the knowledge and experience I gained will continue to accompany me next year and throughout college. I hope that my blogs have inspired other students to take advantage of this opportunity because I promise that it will be a life changing event!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

I'm Coming Home...

I woke up this morning, worried about various things. I worried about my luggage and how the day was going to be like. Most importantly I was worried about saying good-bye to a family that I was welcomed and adopted into in the past three weeks.

My VSA Family
Top: Meg(Proctor), Shanti(me), Karina, Chelsea, Emily, Reesa, Abigail
Bottom: Stephanie, Chiamaka, Kaitlin, Jill, Jasmine, Ashley

As I sat down for breakfast, I observed the commons room. What I saw was the same thing I saw for the last three weeks and that was intelligent young minds carrying out their day. Like me they all have gotten used to this regular schedule at VSA that we will all miss when we return home. Looking at my surrounding I was fully aware of the fact that, I wasn't going to be in this kind of high thriving intelligent environment like this for a while. 

After breakfast, we had some time to say our goodbyes to our friends before everyone departed. Saying goodbye is never easy for me and I absolutely dread saying goodbyes, but I had to. With some of the amazing people I've met, there is a high chance that I wont see them again, but that did not stop me from friending them on social media sites and collecting their numbers to keep in contact. 

We all came back to the dorm rooms at 9 AM. During the left over time we had time to finish packing and wait till our guardians checked us out of VSA. Since I already finished packing earlier, I wanted to spend my remainder of my time with my dearest friends. I went to each and every room and said goodbye even though we weren't leaving yet.

I came back into my dorm room and saw all the emptiness that had taken place of what I called home for the past few weeks. All I could think of was deja vu. I distinctly remember walking into the same empty room on the first day of VSA and being overwhelmed. Now when I look at it, all I see were the memories spent in that same room, which was room 314 in Hank Ingram.

After some time more people started to leave. It became harder and harder to bare the fact that VSA was over as more people began to leave.Since I was able to go on other floors, my friends and I decided to see who was there still. At about 10:00 AM, most of the student had already left and what once used to be the hallways full of eager students, was now empty hallways of memories. We saw some of our other proctor members and decided to stay with them until they had to leave.

Cohorts and Our Loved Proctors!
Our chaperone, Mr.Mannix, came by around 10:30 AM. I was so eager to see our great and amazing chaperone once again. After saying our last good byes to our VSA family, we left. It was very emotional leaving people who I've called family for my time here. I remember as I walking down the hallway and said my last goodbye to my proctor, Meg Touville, I started to cry because I felt like a piece of my heart was being left at VSA and I couldn't stay any longer. 

After a long morning, we went out and had some lunch. Since our flight wasn't until 5 PM, we had some extra time to do some final shopping. When it was around 3:30 PM, we went to the airport. The airport was again a long but exciting experience. Before we headed back to the West Coast, we had a quick stop at Chicago. Then from Chicago, we left for California. On the plane ride to California, I met this nice young woman I sat next to on the plane. Her name was Sara and she returning to California, as well. Although our conversation only lasted a bit, I learned that she played waterpolo like I do and she went to high school a few districts away from my school district. I told her about the Ivy League Connections and she was satisfied to find out that those opportunities existed for student like me these days.

We arrived at the Oakland Airport around 11 PM. I saw my sister there waiting for me and I ran to her. Although I was very sad to have left Vanderbilt I was so happy to see my sister's face. We grabbed my luggage and left. Before we left I said goodbye and thanks to my chaperone and cohort, for being there with me when I experienced this great opportunity. 

It is so hard to believe that I have been at Vanderbilt for three weeks. Its feels too short to be true. I will always had a special place in my heart for the Vanderbilt Summer Academy. I will not forget what I have learned and what I have experienced because those are the reasons why I have changed for the the better. 

At our final destination : Home

Goodbye VSA

It was hard saying goodbye to VSA today. It is hard to believe that I am most likely not going to meet all  of these wonderful students again. My friends and I had spent most of the morning cherishing our memories and spilling tears. We talked about the first impressions we had of each other, and how we bonded overtime. 

After breakfast, everyone in my proctor slowly trickled out; there were only a couple of us remaining from my proctor group. We were supposed to leave earlier, but our van did not arrive until later. This created an even more sullen environment because the hallways seemed very empty.

We left Vanderbilt around 12:30. We went to Opry Mills Mall for the last time, which helped brighten our day. We had lunch there- I ate pizza from a restaurant called The Villa. We also did a little more shopping; luckily, I had plenty of extra space in my luggage. I also ended up meeting one of my classmate's from VSA who lives in Nashville We talked about how it felt weird not wearing our VSA lanyards around our necks- which we had become so accustomed to.

After the mall, we headed straight to the airport. Because we arrived early, we had the opportunity to go to one of the gift shops in the airport. I bought a hoodie that says Nashville, Tennessee to serve as a reminder of my trip.

I did not enjoy the plane ride. I felt really sick; plus it was extremely cold in the airplane. We had a layover at Chicago for about thirty minutes. During the thirty minutes, Chiamaka, Shanti, and I took silly pictures of each other. It helped the time go faster, and it made us all laugh. Our flight arrived in Oakland about half an hour late. I was extremely excited to see my family. My dad, uncle, and brother came to pick me up. When I arrived home, my mom and grandmother were waiting at the door. It felt great to see their smiling faces, which I hadn't seen for almost a month. I am happy to be back home, but I also miss my family back at Vanderbilt. Within just three weeks, I developed a close relationship with my proctor, my instructors, and my friends. It feels as though just yesterday I had arrived at Vanderbilt, and now I am already back!

The Final Day

Today was the final day in Vanderbilt. More tears were shed. I was so sad to be leaving the great friends that I have made here. We vowed to stay in touch and I hope that our promises are kept. I really, really hope that fate will allow our paths to cross again. We didn't leave Vanderbilt until about noon which made it even sadder because we were one of the last people there. I got to say goodbye to my lovely roommate and we promised to check in on each other at least once a month via text or whatever. Goodbyes aren't fun.

When Mr. Mannix came to pick us up, it was sort of a bittersweet sight. It was nice to see Mr. Mannix, but seeing him made it so real that we were going to leave. It was really hard to leave Vanderbilt but the last minute shopping that we did afterwards made it a bit easier. I was able to get some last minute presents for friends as well as a couple of things for myself. I was texting my friends from Vandy the whole time. The idea of being back to California was so strange, it felt like I had been away for so long. After shopping we headed towards the airport. The plane ride was quiet. I sat with Shanti and Jasmine and we were definitely excited to be on our way back home, but we were also leaving home behind. Does that make sense?

We had a layover in Chicago that lasted about an hour or so. Seeing Chicago from the plane was really pretty. Everything was brightly lit up and the buildings were so nice. I've never been to Chicago before now but I would love to visit some time. My phone died while were were in Chicago which made me really sad because it meant that I wouldn't be able to text my friends and respond to their snapchat messages. Is it too dramatic to say that a part of me died along with my phone? The flight from Chicago to Oakland felt so long because it was freezing in the plane. At first I thought I would be able to stand the AC but it felt like I was going to freeze to death. I went through the struggle of looking for the sweatshirt that I conveniently bought at the last airport and put it on. 

We finally made it to Oakland. Seeing my mom's face was breathtaking and my sister was there too. I laughed because if I hadn't, I would have cried. It's nice to be home. 

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Last Full Day...

My morning wasn't the same as the usual because I knew that it was going to be the last full day at VSA. Since it was the last full day the Vanderbilt Summer Academy's Head Leadership Team and the proctors all, planned to go to one of Nashville's famous pancakes place, which is the Pancake Pantry. Going there was completely optional but I wanted to go because I knew that time was running out to be with the people that I will miss the most. 

Since I have already had the opportunity of going to Pancake Pantry, earlier this month, I decided to get something different. My instructor, Dawson, had recommended to order their Famous Sweet Potato Pancakes, when class started. I decided to take a chance and try them. There were so fluffy and delightful. I couldn't imagine my breakfast going any better. I'm going to miss walking down the streets of Nashville and being able to go to different places like the Pancake Pantry.

After breakfast we had to hurry back to the dorms. We arrived at the campus grounds at around 8:10 AM and classes started 9:00 AM. As I was walking to class, it felt like something was holding me back. The resistance to go to class was because of the fact that today was the last day of class. 

Class today was great like always. We learned some new material and went over some old. After, we watched a movie that was math related. It was called "Beautiful Mind". It was a very good movie. Later we worked on more puzzlers. Our instructors wanted to make sure that we had some class time dedicated to taking pictures and exchanging contact information. For the last thirty minutes of class we took a few photos as a momentum of what a great time we had in the class. 

Mr.Dawson Gray! 
"We are the real athletes of the nation...
 we are the mathletes"
"Math is Life" 
Last group photo of the proctor! 

After class it time for VSA's Closing Ceremony. This ceremony was dedicated to all the students who worked hard for the past three weeks and all the staffs members who constantly worked to make sure every student had the best experience possible. A small portion of the ceremony was to acknowledge those who have been dedicated to being part of the VSA team and program for so many years. It was very sad for me to say good-bye to the people who I have grown strong relations with as friends,    mentors, and even as family. But I knew that the real goodbye didn't start at the ceremony but when we all went back to our dorms later on that night.

Before the actual goodbyes, we all had to prepare ourselves for the upcoming dance tonight. The theme was "Shipwrecked".I was a little confused on how to go about the theme but I found a solution. I was excited about the dance because it was said that students controlled the music with close provision. I was hoping for some really good songs to play. The dance was well thought out. I loved the decorations, the music, and the enthusiasm each student brought to show their love for VSA. The dances are absolutely one of my favorite activities that happened in VSA. 

After we all went back to our dorms for some free time. Although it wasn't much we all gathered in the common floors in the building and started to sign each others term books.  The term books are Vanderbilt's way of helping the students remember their great time in Vanderbilt in 2014. There are closely similar to a regular yearbook but on a small scale. All the classes and proctor groups had their own page. I was so happy to have received the term book because I got a lot of people to sign mine, telling me to keep in touch with them. I was happy that this experience has allowed me to meet new people and friends.

At the end of my extraordinary day, I had a proctor meeting. In today's proctor meeting, we all reflected on what we learned from this experience and what we have absorbed from others in the past three weeks. I thought about how this experience has changed me as an individual and as a student. Near the end of the proctor meeting we talked about how much we were going to miss each other. We all agreed even though we won't see each other much we weren't going to say goodbye. We aren't going to say goodbye because we know that we are always going to be talking with each other even if we are in different parts of the country.  

My Day Ended With Tears (spoiler alert)

Today started out rather normal. Breakfast, class, lunch, class. Today however, I got the opportunity of shadowing a Pediatric ENT. Dr. Virgin was so nice and he loved answering questions. His day included him taking fluid, wax, and tubes out of kid ears. I really enjoyed the clinic but I don't think I would want to be a pediatrician because seeing sick kids make me really sad and I don't think I would be able to work in that kind of condition. Then, Jasmine and I partnered up and tried met with a standardized patient. We were obviously very nervous and Jasmine even told me that I sort of laughed in front of the patient when we left the room. I really didn't mean to laugh nor do I remember laughing, it was probably out of nervousness. Our task was to help a patient deal with her stress levels. The fourth year medical student told us that we did a pretty good job. I couldn't have done it without Jamsine

We had a closing ceremony today which was really sad. I didn't cry, but so many other people did because it was their last day for some of them. During the closing ceremony, we got to find out who won the house cup...S house won. BOOOOOO. I thought our house was going to win because we racked in some extra points last minute. Oh well, there is always next year. There was also a video filled with pictures of everyone here at VSA. I showed up at least four times throughout the video which made me happy. 

The dance was really fun. The theme was "Shipwrecked" and I dressed in mostly blue to symbolize the ocean that usually causes ship wrecks. I got Jasmine to dance most of the time. It was really nice to see her dance. She's a natural. 

I was having a lot of fun with these balloons
After the dance, we had some free time which I used to talk to some people and to get some signatures for the mock year book we got. After that, we headed up to our floors for our final proctor meeting. It was the longest proctor meeting that we've ever had in a good way. We all cried because we went around in circle and said our favorite memory about the person to our left. I got to talk about our proctor Meg. She was the one that made me talk and make friends with someone on the first day and without her, I wouldn't have made as many friends as I did. I am seriously going to miss her. We talked about other things but I won't go into that because I would probably start crying as I finish up my blog. These are some of my favorite pictures from today. 
These are the people that inspired me everyday while I was here

My amazing roommate
Shanti and I were supposed to be roommates
but we switched with Chelsea and Karina
and we are so glad that it turned out well.
I couldn't have asked for better people to switch with

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Last Day

I started the morning by going to Pancake Pantry with most of my proctor group. I had to wake up early, but it was worth it; plus, there wasn't a line outside the restaurant when we went. We all sat together and enjoyed our food because it was our last breakfast together.

Class was amazing today, and I am going to miss my instructors and classmates. During the first half of class, we learned about how to diagnose a patient's disease. We went over questions that a health provider would ask the patient such as their present illness history, their family history, their past medical history, and their social history. Kat, our instructor, pretended to be our patient who was having a sharp stomach pain and throwing up. The patient also had a strong history of alcoholism, so as a class we came to the conclusion that the patient had pancreatitis. Afterwards, we read an article on the vaccination debate. We came across a very interesting idea: Because vaccines have become so effective at eradicating diseases, the risk of vaccine reactions is higher than the risk of the disease itself. However, this is causing people to stop getting vaccines which is causing the risk of disease to rise again. I thought this was a very interesting pattern.

After lunch, we went to CELA again, but this time we had to pretend to be physicians in a mock hospital. In pairs, we had to help a patient cope with stress; I was paired with Chiamaka. We had to go in the room, and introduce ourselves. Then we asked the patient questions about her illness as well as her past history. We also performed a heart and lung exam on the patient. In addition to that, we also had to come up with a plan that would help the patient cope with stress. Chiamaka and I were a bit nervous since there was a medical student who was monitoring us though a camera in the room; however, overall, we did not do that bad. One of our weaknesses was that we did not properly acknowledge the patient when she was addressing her problems; one of our strengths, though, was that we used the information the patient gave us to establish a plan for her.

Before class ended, we gave Thank You cards and Dunkin' Doughnuts gift cards to our instructors while the instructors awarded us certificates. We also took pictures!
These are my instructors: Ian, Margot, Brian, Kat, and Katie.
This our T.A.- Meg.
We then had the closing ceremony; it was a very emotional ceremony, but I managed not to cry. The house cup winner was announced: S house. We were only thirteen points away! There was also a slideshow of pictures of all the different events that occurred during VSA; they brought back wonderful memories.

After the talent show, we received our yearbooks, and we signed each other's yearbooks.

We had another dance at 8:00; the theme was shipwrecked. I enjoyed the last dance. After the dance, we had free time, so we continued writing messages to each other. I also wrapped up my packing.

Finishing Up

Class began with a puzzler, of course. We discussed game theory and various conundrums, such as the prisoner's dilemma and the  ultimatum game. We looked at a scene from the movie we were to see the next day, and we discussed John Nash's Nash Equilibrium (the movie is about John Nash). After lunch, we played poker! It is a good test of game theory, and it was fun. When it was time for study hall, the class went to Ben & Jerry's as a way to celebrate the end of the class. 

We had free time between class and dinner. After dinner, we had a talent show! There was a variety of things, from ballet, to singing, to instrumentals, to acapella! My favorite piece was a spoken word piece about a friend who had recently died from cancer. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Not Ready For VSA to End!

"I scream for icecream, we all scream for icecream!"
Today was an extraordinary day. Class was extremely entertaining. In class we played poker. Yes, it may sound a little odd but there is a lot of mathematical and logical aspects in poker that we exercised. Plus it was the best opportunity for me to understand how bad I am at poker.  Therefore, I will not be gambling any time, at all. After playing poker the whole class went to Ben & Jerry's as a celebratory function for the whole class. 

When we came back, student were given some free time. I took this time to collect and organize my belongings to put in my suit case.Tomorrow will be my last day at Vanderbilt and I don't want to spend a single second of it packing. I was able to fully pack my carry-on. After taking some time packing it was lunch. 

Finished packing the carry-on!!
After lunch we had some more free time. I took that time, again, to pack some more, but I stopped after a few minutes. I decided to go downstairs where the common floors were. I wanted to spend one of my last nights here with my friends and socialize for a bit. As I sat there on one of the couches, while student were coming in and out, I realized how much I was going to miss this place. I thought, if I could go back in time and do it again, I would because I know that this program has allowed me to accomplish great things. With this program. I met some of the most intelligent and talented people that I will ever meet. This opportunity has allowed me to see a different perspective and let me improve myself as an individual and a student. I understood how grateful I was for this opportunity. After free time was over, we went back into our rooms and waited for the proctor meeting to start. 

The proctor meeting was very emotional for me. For every night for the past three weeks, I've had proctor meeting where I get to sit down with my amazing proctor, Meg, and twelve other extraordinary young women who are thriving to be great things. I have had the opportunity of knowing them not only as great friends but as family. 

Like usual we went through our daily plans for the next day. Later Meg, pulls out a few pieces of white paper and envelopes from her folder. At that point I was a little uncertain of what was going to happen. I asked myself, "Is she about to write letters for our parents?" I was confused and before I could ask she explained that each of us have to to write a letter to ourselves, talking about anything. These letters will later be sent back to us in January. These letters would act as reminders of what happened in VSA and some of the goals we have for ourselves. I grabbed a sheet of paper and a pen and started to write. 

I started off with, "Dear Shanti," but I couldn't think of anything else. I sat there for a few seconds contemplating how I was going to cram my perfect summer experience into just one page. I couldn't write about the funny moment and jokes we had. I couldn't write all the places I got to go to and seen After some time of thinking, I began to write. 

I started writing about the people I've met on this trip, or specifically my proctor group. I thought if I was going to read this in January, I would want to laugh. In my letter I listed all the girls in my proctor group and wrote a short description of them, with my most memorable moment with them. After that I wrote about how VSA changed me as an individual and what are my goals for the year and in life. When I was finished writing, I, again, realize how much I was going to miss VSA and couln't believe it was going to be over soon.

Tomorrow, Thursday, will officially be that last day of VSA. I plan on spending every second of my time remembering everyone and getting my everlasting last impression of everyone and everything. 

2 Days

The final day is almost here. But, until then life goes on. We had class, then lunch, then class again. Class was really interesting we got to go into CELA and we learned how to do different exams. My favorite was probably the ear exam because all you have to do is look into someone's ear and you can definitely tell when there is something wrong. My least favorite was drawing blood. I was horrible at it and it took me forever to get the vein. I'll keep practicing I guess...but how?

We had to take a survey today that basically compared our actual high school to VSA. I like VSA's environment so much more. I loved that there was a place and time for everything. They let us have social time and when we were in class, then all we had to worry about was classwork. Nothing from school "bled" into the rest of our day and I wish our school was like that. There are no grades and I feel like that took away so much stress. I didn't have to worry about getting the highest grade because that wasn't the point. The point was learning.

We also had a talent show which I thought was really cool because there are so many talented people here. There were dancers, singers, and poets. My favorite was Jake the Slam poet. His poem was touching, he dedicated it to a friend that recently died from cancer. I wish him the best and I hope he continues to use poetry as an outlet because it is the absolute best form of releasing pain if you ask me. I hope that sentenced sounded as bias as I wanted it to sound. Hopefully one day I will be brave enough to get on a stage and share some of my poetry.

I'm really going to miss most people. I think I had the best experience that I could have made for myself. I hope that out of everyone, I stay in contact with my cohort forever! Jasmine and I were trying to come up with ways to stay in contact after Vanderbilt. We are determined.

One More Day!

It was an exciting day today. During the first half of class,  we visited a place called CELA where medical students see fake patients; they can practice their skills on manaquins or actors who pretend to be ill. In small groups, we visited six different stations. In the first station, we had to draw blood from a plastic arm which had veins and fake blood. I had to sterilize the arm first. I was a little nervous at first, but I was able to extract blood on my first try. 
The other stations included a neurological, cardiology, ear, lung, and blood pressure exam. I was already familiar with the heart, lung, and brain exam because we had done them in class. I had a hard time performing the blood pressure and ear exam. I could not tell which eat was infected,  but I enjoyed it nonetheless. I also had the opportunity to examine my instructor's ear. We also had take a patient's blood pressure, and the task was not as simple as it had seemed; it was hard to monitor the screen and listen for the beats at the same time.

Afterwards, we had a guest speaker who talked about hospice care; she is a physician who handles hospice patients and their families. I realized that you have to be emotionally strong if you work in a hospice because you may see multiple deaths in a day. We ended class by presenting our group projects. Everyone had very interesting ideas to combat diseases like skin cancer and concussions.

The day ended with a talent show! I enjoyed watching all the performances which ranged from singing to reciting a poem. There is only one more actual day left of VSA, so I really hope to enjoy tomorrow as much as possible!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Happy Birthday Kat!

Today in class, we focused mainly on how to examine patients. We primarily learned the abdominal exam and how to diagnose patients. We got to practice on one of our instructors and we had to diagnose her. We were supposed to ask her questions in a certain order and there were some questions that we ask in a certain way to make the patient feel comfortable. Doctors have to be as relatable to their patients as possible so that they feel comfortable enough be honest. I'm not sure if I would be a relatable person. Our teacher Margot told us that on the last day, we would work with a standardized patient which is actually an actor that "acts" sick and we have to diagnose them. I hope I do well...I know which questions to ask but I wouldn't know how to diagnose them because I don't know about every disease in the world.
Happy Birthday Kat

We also talked about the vaccine controversy. I just want to start off and say that I don't think that vaccines should be mandated and made a law because I still feel as if that everyone should be able to make their own choices. Even if people make the (WRONG) choice of not getting vaccinated or not getting their children vaccinated, then it is still their right to make that choice. I personally would want everyone to get vaccinated but it is still their choice. Vaccines are often linked to Autism but this is not true! Children are often diagnosed with Autism around the age of 2 or 3 which just happens to be the right age that children are supposed to be vaccinated for MMR. Other than that, there has been NO scientific proof that vaccinations can lead to autism. I feel as if people need to educate themselves before they became so narrow minded about certain topics. On a brighter note, today was one of my instructors birthday and we sang her happy birthday and we ate some delicious home made cupcakes.

Today was also proctor night. This time, our proctor group decided to stay together and not try a date night because the last time we did it, it didn't go so well. I'm glad that we all stayed together. First we made a trip to the book store and I got this book that I've been meaning to get Palo Alto by James Franco. I'm really interested in it because I've heard some really good reviews. Then we got to visit this cute little boutique near Barnes and noble and I got this really cute necklace. My proctor was nice enough to give me a coupon so the necklace was even cheaper for me. After, shopping, we had Chinese food waiting for us back at the campus. The food was great but the company was better. We all at in a circle and talked about nothing in particular. We all laughed until we couldn't breathe as we told stories about ourselves. We played games and told a couple of secrets. It was really fun and I'm really going to miss everyone. I thought we were the perfect mix of personalities and I couldn't have been in a better proctor group. 


I'm quite saddened by the fact that we are in our last week already. The program has been flying by too fast, and I will regret having to leave many of the friends I've made here. Oddly enough, our last day of class is Thursday, not Friday. Friday will be the day of check-out, and I am slightly worried about not being able to say goodbye to everyone.

Our day in class was filled with extremely large math problems after we had our last lesson about logarithms from another student. We had a puzzler in which we discussed the arrangement of people in an airplane. We then had a discussion about the quickest way to find a fake coin by weight, and we had two problems on this theoretical situation. The second problem took an extremely large amount of time, and my group was unable to come up with a solution after a significant amount of contemplation. For study hall, we had an extension on yesterday's question during study hall.

After class, I hung out with friends for a bit. Our free time was cut short, unfortunately, as we had to leave early for proctor night. My proctor group had a group date with a different proctor group, and we went to Cabana yet again. The best part of my night was probably the food, actually. After dinner, we watched a movie in one of the seminar rooms in the dorm.

Our Last Proctor Night!

In class, we had our last presentations. Seeing the presentations, helped me understand how I can better my techniques and skills when it comes to giving a presentation or in this case, teaching. Learning from other students, whether they failed or succeeded, was helpful to me. I appreciated this project because it was a  great learning opportunity and I believe that it has prepared me to do great in my next presentation.

During class we also worked on a few puzzles.  One thing that I admire about my class, Special Topics in Math, is that we do a lot of puzzlers that make is think logically and mathematically. During the puzzlers, we get to act them out to see how certain aspects of the problem work out. Acting these out the puzzlers isn't something that my classes do . Acting it out gives student a better understand of the problem and it helps me figure out what is really happening in a certain situation.

After class we had some free time. I wanted to rest up for the upcoming activities that we were going to have that night. Tonight was the last proctor night. Usually during proctor nights, other proctor groups ask other proctor groups to spend time with each other, but for this proctor night we decided just to make it our group. One thing that we decided to do was to go to the bookstore. We all wanted to go to the bookstore because we wanted to buy some souvenirs from Vanderbilt's bookstore. We walked there and got some Vanderbilt merchandise.  I bought two T-shirts that said Vanderbilt on it. I plan on giving one to my dad and keeping one for myself. Hopefully he likes his gift.

Later we went back to the dorms. At the dorm's commons room we ordered in some Chinese food. We sat in a circle eating Chinese food. As we ate our delicious food, we bonded together for the last time again on proctor night. I think today's proctor meeting was the best proctor night experience I have had out of  my whole VSA experience. Today's proctor night was just us. We got to talk and learn new things about each other. Over the past weeks I've gotten the opportunity of getting to know each these wonderful and intelligent ladies and I will not let our relationship of great friends parish. 

Tonight was a wonderful night. I am so saddened that it is out last proctor night, but I know that our time together is not over yet. 

Proctor Night!

Today I had the opportunity to shadow a neurologist who sees patients with epilepsy(seizures). Unfortunately, I was not able to start shadowing until 10:00 because he didn't arrive to work until that time; therefore, I had to wait for one hour. While I was waiting, I heard two neurologists discussing a patient's case. They were exchanging information about a  patient's symptoms and her past history.

When the neurosurgeon arrived, I saw two follow-up patients. The first patient had migraines and depression along with epilepsy. Dr. Lagrange had to prescribe new medicine because the previous one was not working.  I noticed that the patient was having a hard time expressing her thoughts which was a result of the medicine. The other patient had seizures in her temporal lobe; she has had epilepsy since  twenty years which caused her to have emotional problems. I truly enjoyed shadowing a neurologist; however, I wish I could have seen more patients.

When we went back to class, we all sang "Happy Birthday" to Kat (one of my instructors) and Meg (our T.A.) Kat had also baked cupcakes for everyone- which was a nice treat. Afterwards, we worked on this week's group project. Each group has to design a public health initiative that targets a specific disease. My group and I decided to focus on obesity. Our idea is to create a program that encourages overweight and obese individuals to exercise. The participants have to ride a bike a certain distance; once they complete that distance, they will be rewarded a tax deduction. Hopefully, our group can win the competition for the best public health initiative!

Instead of having the usual SOFT night, we had proctor night. We first went to the Vanderbilt Bookstore. I decided to purchase a keychain since I had already bought a hoodie. We then went back to Hank and ate Chinese food. We also shared stories and played games such as Hot Seat. I learned interesting facts about everyone in my group.

The proctor night-the last one-concluded today's event, and I am looking forward to the talent show tomorrow!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Wind Down

Class started with a puzzler that was an extension of the previous one. In the previous one, a prison warden distributed hats among prisoners in a specific pattern in a game where prisoners could be released if they win. In this new puzzler, there is much more randomness and there are many more people to complicate things. I did not come up with a solution, while a classmate did. The class had to act out the puzzle to see how it would work, and Dawson said that we were the smoothest he had ever seen for this puzzler.

After the puzzler, we had more student lessons. There is only one remaining! After lunch finished, we came back to see answer sheets on our desks. Dawson explained that he had Rebus puzzles, and I was quite challenged by them. The funnest part was going through the answers and watching the students react though.

After the Rebus puzzles, Dawson presented "his favorite problem ever" for study hall. This problem dealt with the distribution of spoils between democratic pirates. My table worked through it together with a significant amount of discussion, and I had a lot of fun considering all the possibilities and working with my peers. After we obtained an answer, Dawson presented us with extensions based on the question. We didn't have enough time to work through everything, but we made a good amount of progress.

After class, we had no arete classes. It's the last week, so we won't have any more. We were given extra free time instead, and I am taking advantage of it and enjoying it. After free time and dinner, we had SOFT. I went out with friends, then I went stargazing since the astronomy class was opening to visitors to teach them about some of the celestial bodies. I saw Saturn!

Our Last SOFT Night!

Hang out with my wonderful friends for the
Last SOFT night.
For the first session of class we did two presentations. The lessons were on imaginary numbers and parabolas. Although I've already learned about these topics, it was great review. After the presentation we went off to lunch. Lunch was like any regular meal. I got my lunch sat down and ate.

During the second session in class, Dawson, our instructor wanted us to get our mind off of math for a few minutes and rest. It sounds a little odd, but it is what we needed.  For the time being we started to work on puzzles called rebuses. Rebuses are symbols or illustrations to represent words or a phrase. Our job as the students was to find what each rebus symbol was in a certain amount of time. Dawson made sure to make it into a competition, since he likes competitions. Of course I didn't win the competition, I was far from it. It was my first time working with that type of puzzle and quiet frankly they were very difficult. 

Today was VSA's last SOFT(Sign Out Free Time) night. I have grown accustomed to roaming the streets of Nashville twice a week. I didn't even realize it was our last SOFT night until it was nearly the end of the night. My friends and I were so caught up in having fun that we forgot it would be our last. We started off by going to Starbucks and from there we went to take pictures of this mural in 21st in Nashville. The mural is in  Hillsboro Village which is one of Nashville's well-known streets. After taking a few snapshots of the place we went to to Hot & Cold, which was a local coffee/icecream place in the area. We got some icecream, even though we were a little full from what we had at Starbucks. But since it was going to be our last SOFT night we went with it. Walking back to the dorms was the most depressing moment here for me at VSA. Just the idea that there isn't going to be another SOFT night and we are so close to the end.

One of the painted walls in Hillsboro Village.

In our dorms rooms we had time to rest. Some of the girls started to sing a song that everyone recognized and started to sing along. A few moments later I opened my door to a few girls from my proctor group singing and our proctor, Meg. Chiamaka and I walked outside breaking into song with them. I think this was one of the memorable moments I've had on my floor. It was amazing how we just all sang along with each other in harmony. I am going to miss this gravely. 

I have less than a week in Vanderbilt. I'm contemplating how I am going to react to "the end of my journey", as I like to call it. Like I said before, all I know is that I am going to cherish every lasting second.

Taking a picture in front of this great mural with
my amazing friends.

The Beginning of the End

Today started of routinely. Breakfast, Class, Lunch, Class. But this time, we didn't have to go to arete this week. I'm really excited about the extra hour of free time because it means I can start my summer assignments!! (maybe)

In class, I thought the most interesting lecture was one about how to get into med school. At first, I thought that the lecturers were just telling the typical "be well rounded" kind of story; but when they say well rounded, they mean well rounded. They expect med school students to have shadowed, or researched or even written a book! I thought getting into college was going to be hard...try med school. I feel as if the idea of med school sort of scares me but it intrigues me more than scares me. I'm really determined to be a doctor and I'm also kind of scared that I'll be one of the college students that starts off "pre-med" but changes majors 3000 times. I really hope I can make it because I don't see myself doing anything else. I could never be an Engineer, or Lawyer, or Teacher. I don't have a back up plan. Some people call it stupid but I say it's my "calling." 

Because I think I'm a model 
We had our last S.O.F.T night tonight. I could not have hung out with a better group of people. Shanti, Stephanie, Abigail, Jasmine, and I all hung out and walked around Hillsboro. It was the best. We even stopped to take a couple of pictures in front of this really nice artistic wall. I really appreciate them and I love how close we've gotten in such a short amount of time. While we were at Hot and Cold, we made a pact to always stay in touch and talk as much as possible. It's so weird to think that they live so far away! I'm also really going to miss my roommate Chelsea. She told me today that it was going to be so weird not being able to talk to me about her day. She was the best roommate ever and I'm so glad that we got along so well because it honestly could have gone either way. We immediately clicked and I feel like we've known each other forever. I'm really going to miss everyone when it's all over. Three more days with all these wonderful people and I'm pretty sure I'm going to cry Friday morning when we have to check out. 
Can I bring them to California with me?

The Beginning of the Last Week!

Most of our class today consisted of lectures and guest speakers. Our first lecture was on cervical cancer and HPV. We discussed how HPV can lead to cervical cancer and the symptoms that patients usually present with. Our next guest speaker talked about the Affordable Healthcare Act. He created a very interactive lecture; we answered multiple choice questions using clickers which generated a chart of our answers on the screen. I found it interesting to see the different opinions of my classmates. Our last guest speaker before lunch lectured on screening. He talked about how certain factors such as the severity of the disease, the tests, and the treatment have to be considered before deciding whether or not there should be screening.

We arrived late to lunch, so Chiamaka and I had to sit at a table separate from our other friends; we started to reflect on our application process for Vanderbilt, and how we have made it this far.

After lunch, we had two more guest speakers. The first speaker was a public health advocate, and he discussed important health projects that have been implemented in Nashville. The next set of guest speakers talked to us about medical school admission. They talked about the factors admission officers consider when accepting students. I realized that the process is very similar to applying to college. The requirements include letters of recommendation, a high MCAT score, and reasonable grades. Medical schools look for students who are well-rounded; they want students who have had medical exposure and who are leaders in their communities. Before class ended, we had a final lecture on vaccination. I realized that many diseases such as whooping cough are starting to reemerge because many people are campaigning against vaccines.

We had extra free time today because there is no more Arete. Abigail, Shanti, Chiamaka, and I spent most of the time trying to solve Rebus puzzles- which are a great way to challenge one's brain. Today was also our last SOFT night. We first went to Starbucks, and then we walked to Hot and Cold which serves ice-cream. This was my first time going there; unfortunately, I was not able to get anything because I was already full from the Caramel Frappuccino. We also stopped to take creative pictures in front of wall that said, Hillsborough Village.

Let's Go to the Mall

I started the day off with a catered breakfast in Hank yet again. After that, we had some free time until lunch, so I watched a movie with a friend. It ended just in time for us to be ready for lunch, and so we went. Everyone was to depart from the cafeteria to the buses from our Saturday outing at Opry Mills, the mall in Nashville, so we all had to be ready for our trip before we headed out for lunch.

When I arrived at the mall, I found myself in a different group than I expected. I didn’t mind though, since they were great to shop with and they were lots of fun. I bought myself two shirts at the mall. Some of my friends that I passed by talked about a pepper challenge at the Pepper Palace, so my group wanted to try it. I decided to join along.

At the Pepper Palace, there was a tiny cup of salsa and a large bin of chips next to it. We all signed a waiver to try the salsa, and initially we thought it wasn’t too bad. Unfortunately, on our way out of the Pepper Palace, the spice started to kick in. Hard. It was a lot of suffering from spiciness and a lot of laughs, and I had fun doing it with my friends.

After we came back, my friends decided to hang out in the piano room before dinner. After dinner, we had trivia night! Everyone was sorted by proctor group. Apparently, my proctor group is not the best at trivia, because we got second-to-last place. Regardless, I still had fun with my group! We were really spirited and cheering, for fun’s sake.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Off to the Mall We Go

Earlier today, after lunch, we went to the Opry Mills Mall in Nashville. Before hand, on the bus ride, I got some information on what kinds of stores were there. Most of the stores I shop from in the West Coast were all located in this one mall. I was really excited but I had to remind myself I was shopping for souvenirs and I couldn't buy to many things because of the baggage weight limits the airport has when I go back to the West Coast. 

When we approached the mall the bus took us around the whole building complex once. Opry Mills Mall is a very big mall. The mall wasn't as close to being great as the ones near my house on the West Coast. Like I said the mall is very big and it was impossible to try to go to every place in the mall in two hours. We went to various stores, which included Forever 21, Earthbound, and Papaya. I didn't buy to much, considering my constraints on luggage weight. In addition, I just wanted to buy things that I needed. I ended up buying a pair of pants, two T-shirts for my sisters, and a bracelet. It isn't much, but I am content with what I bought.

Later on we had dinner. As we were talking and eating our food, I realized how much I was going to miss being at VSA. My journey in VSA is going to end soon. Although I am excited to go back home and see my family, I can't help myself to the fact that for the past two week I have had my own VSA family here. Its going to be hard to leave, but I refuse to say good-bye. I will keep in contact with everyone and it will be great.

After dinner we had a trivia game to go to. All the proctor groups were involved. In the trivia game, there were different topics that we had to answer questions to. These topics ranges from intellectual ones, like literature and biology, to more fun ones, like music and sports. For each category there was five questions to ask. Our proctor group didn't win but it was a fun experience. We tried our best and that's all anyone could ask for. After the trivia game, that lasted for two hours, some of us stayed back to help fix up/clean up the room. 

Later we went back the the dorm room and had our nightly proctor meeting. During the meeting, we talked about our upcoming event for the week and our schedule for the next day. Later on we talked about how its was coming close to our departure day. We told each other about what we were looking forward to about the week and what we plan to do for our proctor night, which is a night when only our proctor groups hangs out with each other. I'm excited for the coming week but I am also very sad. I know that leaving VSA is going to be very hard but I'm going to make my time left here as great as it can be.