Monday, June 29, 2009

My thoughts so far

On June 6 I returned from the Summer Leaders Seminar program at West Point Academy and just this past Saturday I returned from Boys' State program at Sacramento State University. While these programs were excellent in their own right I couldn't help but wonder if they might fail in comparison to the rigorous Ivy Scholars Program at Yale.

About 1000 participants were chosen from around the nation to attend each of the first two programs mentioned. These individuals were among the most talented kids I've ever met. That being said, I'm almost afraid to think of what the talent will be like at a program where only 60 individuals are chosen from around the globe! I can't express how honored I was, and am, to be accepted into an elite group of individuals such as the ones who will be attending the Ivy Scholars Program. Already, through the intensive reading, it has become apparent to me that we are gaining an enlightened view of the world which few are exposed to at our age. While I am thrilled by the opportunity to participate in a program of this stature, I am also sobered by its prestige. I realize that I will have to buckle down and focus in order to be able to deliver among elite individuals such as the ones attending this program. This is an opportunity very few are afforded in high school and I plan to take advantage of it as much as possible.

As for the reading list, I have finished 3 out of the 10 books assigned to us and all I can say is, "wow". The books I've completed so far are Never Eat Alone, The Prince, and The Return of History (all of which have been previously summarized in this blog). These books have changed my perspective of the world in ways I could only explain to you in person. I am working on The Post-American World and hope to finish it by tomorow. With the exception of The Prince, I have tried to first read the books which are about modern society. Once I complete these readings, I will begin to digest the other books which are more about ancient philosophy and history. This will allow me to create my own ideas about how these philosophies and historic events have shaped our modern world. My father, a political science major, is reading the books along with me both for his own pleasure (because they are truly amazing reads), and in order to help me digest the concepts and explore my ideas more thoroughly.

I am astounded that, at only the beginning of our journey, the Ivy Scholars Program has been able to affect me in such a significant way. I look forward to whatever is in store and hope that I will be ready to grasp it fully.

Thanks for reading.

Matt Arciniega


  1. I am glad that you have been impacted in a major way by reading the texts provided by the Ivy League Connection. I am also thrilled that you and your father are working as a unit in mowing through the literature. This will be an exciting and joyous time for you.

    I hope that being part of the Ivy League Connection is something that you will value for the rest of your life. It was the hope of the program to bring rigor and create awareness for top flight programs that exist in the Summer Studies world for high school students.

    Continue to explore and continue to test yourself. The time to leave for Yale will soon be here and I want you to take this experience and bring it back to El Cerrito High School in the fall.

    Take care.

    Charles T. Ramsey, Esq.
    School Board Member
    West Contra Costa
    Unified School District

  2. Matt, When you were writing about how prestigious this opportunity is for you, all I kept thinking about was some sage advice I had received when I was about your age: "Don't screw it up!"

    I've tried to live my life by those words of wisdom and, while not always successful, they seem to have worked for me.

    I repeat those words to you and offer them up for you to embrace as I did so many years ago.

    what your father may not have said to you about why he's reading those books, is that he wants to make sure you don't pick up any strange ideas about how to strategize and go to battle. Things may be great between you and your folks but any parent with a teenager is just sitting back and waiting for that first sign of rebellion. Whether it's a later curfew or deferring the mowing of the lawn, as a parent he needs to know more than you so he can come out the victor. It's a pride thing for parents.

    He can't allow you to study these books essentially on how to wage war and have the upper hand.

  3. Matt,

    You've got the picture here -- it is "sobering" and you will have to "buckle down" -- but understand you made the cut because this is something you are very capable of.

    I am so happy your Dad is doing the reading with you -- and I wonder how many of the other moms and dads across the world are doing the same. This is something special you can both share and I'm glad you've seized the opportunity.

    Time is flying now so keep reading and sharing your thoughts with us.