JSA Alum Recalls Summer Experience


Being a Voice: My College Experience at Stanford

By Ron Rocky Coloma
Never did I ever imagine that I would be able to experience the daily life of a Stanford student. After applying and getting the scholarship for the (JSA) Junior State of America summer program, I was definitely enthralled and ready to tackle rigor in the form of a college course and a debate workshop.

To be frank, my expedition was definitely an unforgettable experience. During the first week, islanders across the globe gathered together for the prep program. In the entirety of the week, we were challenged with back-to-back coursework to prepare us for the most demanding and exhausting month of our lives. Although it was definitely an impediment, everyone surpassed it.

Personally, the prep week had made the Islanders’ bond stronger than ever. It was absolutely captivating to perceive a
motley of diverse people sharing a common identity. My favorite memory from the first week was when we watched the sunset at the main quad. Everyone finally opened up and were able to depict their true colors.

On the second week, mainlanders as well as international students, arrived garnering about 115 students in the program. In my college class in U.S. Government, I am so fortunate enough to be taught by Professor Alan Gibson. He is definitely proficient in regards to the U.S. Constitution and had really kept us engaged by exploring the eccentricity and the deepest part of the subject. My classmates and I absolutely love him for his understanding and passion for the subject he teaches. Don’t forget about the donuts and ice cream he gave us as a treat!

With our schedule filled for the whole day, we also had a debate workshop at night; something that I looked forward to since the beginning of the program. All the professors at Stanford University this summer were exceedingly qualified. However, Professor Andrea McClanahan stood out to me the most. She definitely epitomized the essential nature of how to balance a classroom environment between work and fun. Her class never felt like two hours long and I commend my classmates for keeping the debates dynamic. It was interesting to see both perspectives of the main speakers as we learned more about the critical issues of our society today.

On the side, I’m fortunate enough to meet one of my greatest inspirations growing up. Vanessa Ochavillo, a fellow
Filipino who graduated at Stanford University in 2017 and Academy of Our Lady of Guam in 2012, acted as a role model to me and defined the perfect epitome of a scholar. It was such a great honor to talk to her about education and topics revolving around personal life. It is exhilarating how someone from my ethnicity, middle school, and island can depict prominence and be an inspiration to others.

JSA Stanford was quite a ride. During the commencement program, I am so thrilled to receive the “Best Speaker of the House” gavel as well as officially breaking JSA’s record for having the most subsequent speeches ever in history. This was one of my highlights at Stanford this summer and I could not have done it without the support from my fellow JSA comrades.

A great takeaway from this program is not only the scholarly habits I acquired such as time management and effective note-taking but also the importance of diversity and the respect for everyone’s culture.

I can argue that the academic curriculum is a major part of this rigorous program but I can also contest that the life-long friends you meet in this program are definitely worth the wait. I had never been in a room filled with the most determined, passionate, and hardworking scholars ever.

This article was originally published in Affinity Magazine.


September 11, 2018