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!