Ten classes, two finals weeks, and countless papers, projects, and homework assignments later, I’ve made it through freshman year. I learned about several different academic subjects, but I also learned a lot about myself, so here are a few assignments from some of my classes this year that I think best show growth and discovery.
English 2367.01H: Second-Year Writing
English has never been my favorite subject, so I took this class to finish my last writing GE requirement as soon as possible. But I loved this class because it was mainly discussion-based and encouraged us to build critical thinking skills. We mostly read nonfiction essays about important social issues, which was interesting because it provided new perspectives on familiar topics, and gave insight that I think will be valuable in future classes.
This assignment was an argumentative essay on an issue of our choice, and it was the final paper I wrote in this class. I wrote about sleep deprivation because it’s a problem that I struggled with at the beginning of this year, but I’ve become better at getting enough sleep since then. I was able to build on research skills such as finding reliable sources, extracting relevant information, synthesizing this information, and citing all sources. While I have written research papers before, this one was particularly interesting and it felt like a big step from the research papers I wrote in high school.
Art 2100: Beginning Drawing
This class was meant to fulfill my Visual and Performing Arts GE, and I initially was on the fence about taking it because I never liked art class in elementary or middle school. I always told myself that I wasn’t really good at art and that I wasn’t creative enough to be good at it. But this class changed all of that for me because our professor encouraged us to put our personal experiences into our art, which inspired me to tell a story with every piece I painted or drew.
This particular piece, Unrooted, describes the way that I’ve moved around a lot growing up. The places on the box represent places where my parents have been stationed, while the dandelion is the official symbol of the military child and serves to represent the way in which our childhoods are carried around from place to place like seeds in the wind. The dandelion’s growth in the cardboard moving box symbolizes the ability to thrive amidst change in an unfamiliar place, something that I have learned throughout my childhood. While this piece means a lot to me and tells my personal story, I was touched by how it resonated with a few of my classmates in ways that I didn’t expect. One girl spoke up about her experience immigrating from Mexico when she was twelve and how she had to adjust to a new home, new people, and a new culture while moving far away from the life she had always known. Another classmate shared how his extended family all still lives in Sudan and how he hasn’t seen them in nine years, and how he feels like he shares his identity between the U.S. and Sudan. While our experiences weren’t exactly the same, we found that we could relate to each other through a simple piece of art, which made me realize how powerful art can truly be.
History 3700: American Environmental History
Environmental Issue Paper-1ixcw15
This history class was probably my favorite class all year, but it was also probably the hardest. Our professor assigned about 200 pages of reading a week, in addition to six or seven paragraph-length study questions we had to answer for our weekly quizzes. I realize that I will have many more classes with this kind of coursework in the future, but at first I wasn’t sure if I could make it through this one.I fell behind in the reading in the first couple weeks, and as one of only two first-years in a classroom of thirty upperclassmen, I was nervous to answer questions in class discussions. But after bombing that first quiz, I pushed myself to catch up and keep up the rest of the semester. Being caught up with all the reading made me more confident in engaging in discussions, and I’ve since learned the importance of participating in class. The works we read were from authors with various perspectives who discussed several different topics in our country’s environmental history, and I ended up finding the issues quite interesting.
At the end of the course we could choose any environmental topic to write a paper on, and I chose to write about the impact climate change could have on natural disasters and other weather patterns. It was one of the hardest papers I had ever written because a lot of the sources used concepts and words that I didn’t know much about, but this only made it all the more gratifying to finish the paper. I was able to build upon my research skills while using my own personal insight, which I know will be important for future courses.