Tag Archives: Min-Ling Li

College Expectations and Aspirations: From the Mouths of Gifted Students

By Min-Ling Li

Min-Ling is a Program Coordinator at IEA and works most closely with our high school Apprenticeship Program, through which she meets and interacts with many gifted high school students. Before coming to IEA, she was a high school mathematics teacher.

ElonGoing off to college is probably one of my best and most anxious memories. At that point in time, it seemed that all of my prior education was in preparation for this milestone. As a first-generation college student, the plethora of tasks to complete for college applications was overwhelming. I recall that my mom, who completed 6th grade in China before immediately beginning to work, advised me that I had completed all the hard work and all that was left was to communicate my story to people whose actions and opinions we had no control over. My dad, who graduated with a Master’s Degree from Hong Kong Polytechnic University, simply gave me a stern look, smile and nod of encouragement when the subject of college was spoken of. Needless to note, “vini, vidi, vici” (I came, I saw, I conquered), and tada!

That was 10 years ago, and I was curious about how students in our IEA community view higher education now. I have the privilege of working with highly gifted and mature youngsters, and with their help I compiled some of their thoughts, expectations, anxieties, and aspirations about higher education. By sharing this data, I hope to provide information and comfort, tell their stories and compel higher education and the world to prepare for this creative, curious and free-natured group of young adults. I asked students ages 13 through 18 amongst our community of Caroline D. Bradley Scholars, Apprentices and Yunasa Emerging Leaders and Counselors in Training about their outlook on higher education. The data from the 40 respondents is featured below. Thank you to all those who contributed!

Expectations

When asked, “In what ways do you hope learning as a young adult will be different from high school?”, 80% of students used the words “free,” “freedom” and “autonomy”:

  • “I hope that there will be more freedom involved. I like to believe that I am a very independent and intellectually bold thinker, and I know that I apply myself better to long-term projects than busy work. So, I hope that there will be less busy work and more projects/papers to engage with.”
  • 82% of students responded similarly to this student, yearning for greater depth and relation to solving problems that affect the world: “I hope that as a young adult I will be able to learn more about the things that matter to me. In high school we often talk about topics that do not interest me, or we talk about topics too shallowly. I hope to be able to learn with greater understanding and purpose.”
  • Students also expressed a need to learn based on their pace: “I hope to have more freedom to choose what I learn and to be able to make my own choices regarding the course material and pace as opposed to having to follow strict guidelines.”

See more of the results from Min-Ling’s survey!

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Advocacy and the Gifted Teenager

By Min-Ling Li

Min-Ling is IEA’s Apprenticeship Program Coordinator. She joined IEA after teaching high school mathematics in Los Angeles. Her dedication to supporting high-potential students is rooted in her own experiences as a student who struggled to find outlets that nurtured her intellectual and social dispositions.

Meeting the academic needs of gifted teenagers requires a

Meeting the academic needs of gifted teenagers requires discussion, planning, and cooperation.

Amelia is a 10th grader who attends a small private school in Northern California. She enjoys singing and dancing, as well as reading about the universe and diving into the intricacies of supernovae. Amelia is self-motivated but often finds that her school and the courses offered do not satisfy her curiosity in the arts, math, and sciences. The content to learn within her school is often shallow, and completing assignments of knowledge-gathering is baffling to her, as she can find the answer with taps on a keyboard and Wikipedia. She despises memorization. Amelia is respectful. With that said, she follows her enthusiastic and inspiring teachers as they “cover material” which she masters quickly. Amelia is an example of a gifted child within “American schools [that] pledge to educate everyone and expose students to a wide variety of topics” (Davidson, 2004). Amelia’s needs are oftentimes overlooked.

Providing safe and nurturing learning environments for gifted students is often difficult when the student seeks services within educational spaces that are not aware of the needs of gifted youngsters. As the coordinator for a gifted program and a teacher of general education students, I have gained knowledge and experience from my interactions with teenagers. Being an advocate is pivotal in my responsibility to offer the best learning environment for gifted students.

Read about advocating for gifted teens!

Reflections on Apprenticeship 2014

By Min-Ling Li

Min-Ling is IEA’s Apprenticeship Program Coordinator. IEA’s residential summer Apprenticeship Program links gifted high school students from across the country with mentors who advance each participant’s skills through the application of knowledge and exposure to real world experiences. These life lessons in personal and intellectual development are invaluable to their growth and assist them in making pertinent connections for the future.

High School Apprenticeship Program

Min-Ling (far left) with the four- and seven-week Apprentices

“Everything you can imagine is real.” Pablo Picasso

I had the honor of spending seven weeks – a time that has magically flown by – alongside wonderful students whom I could not get enough of. Their passion and diligence radiated all around them, and I watched each of them grow over the course of the summer. I feel privileged to have been witness to not only their physical growth (hair and height) but to the development of their perseverance and the bloom of their self-confidence.

As an IEA Apprentice, students must possess an innate desire to learn and an insatiable thirst for knowledge. Driven by these characteristics, each Apprentice worked alongside eminent professionals, becoming a vital part of a research team and/or project. These opportunities posed challenges that gifted students typically do not face in the classroom. The unique difficulties posed by the need to acquire as much knowledge of a subject as possible in an effort to become a productive contributor and by entering into professional cultures they had not yet experienced helped each student develop a newfound maturity. Doctors, research scientists, lawyers, and I comprised the team of mentors who committed to providing support for the Apprentices as they began to mature intellectually and socially, and we provided opportunities for them to learn and to succeed on their own laurels.

Apprentices cultivated relationships with each other and found the acceptance and the strength they needed to conquer the challenges they faced. After each arduous work day, dinner was the time when they shared their struggles to comprehend complex science jargon, algorithms, design techniques, and intricate medical procedures, all the while discussing their experiences with hot wire cutters and petri dishes. Somehow, dinner conversations always culminated in discussions about who they were rooting for on MasterChef or the games they planned to play back at the dorm.

During the evenings and on weekends, Resident Advisers and I engaged the Apprentices’ teenage selves. In an effort to bridge asynchronous highly able minds with their adolescent emotional and psychological needs, we played Pictionary, bowled, went ice skating, and attended a baseball game. Many of the kids also completed summer AP assignments, and many watched a Harry Potter marathon. Astonishingly, I watched each of the Apprentices achieve balance.

At this time last year, I could only dream of these young adults, who have now exceeded all of my expectations. It is now time to plan for next year’s program, and I can only imagine who the phenomenal students will be that take part in Apprenticeship 2015.

See photos from Apprenticeship 2014!
Apprenticeship2014Photos

Do you know a gifted high school student who would benefit from Apprenticeship? Sign up for our email list to stay updated on our 2015 offerings!

My Passion for Learning

By Min-Ling Li, IEA Program Coordinator

Growing up alongside my older sister and younger brother, I knew I was different from other kids. They played and studied with a little bit of a carefree nature, whereas I was almost always overly inquisitive, constantly asking “why?” and “how?” When I started elementary school in America as an English language learner, it was difficult for me to communicate this same curiosity. I asked the same questions, and teachers would often speak to me slower, ask me to re-read or, if available, send me to a volunteer translator with no content knowledge to find the answer. Finally, in the third grade, I was tested in the Los Angeles public school system and identified as gifted. I remember going to school on a Saturday morning and meeting a nice lady who insisted I be “natural.” I vividly remember the pattern on the circular carpet I walked around and around as she asked me questions in Cantonese and English.

Read more of Min-Ling’s story!

Meet Min-Ling and Louise!

We are excited to announce that we have two new additions to our IEA staff! Louise Hindle and Min-Ling Li have both been involved with IEA and our programs before and have recently joined the team as Program Coordinators. Get to know more about these amazing individuals who will be leading some of our programs this year!

Learn about Min-Ling and Louise!