H.A.G.S.: Have a Great Snoop-through-my-capstone

Oh wow. The last part of the last assignment of my last fall semester at the University of Michigan. Can you feel the anticipation/relief/exhaustion radiating out of your computer screen? My hands are practically shaking with this weird combination of too tired and too awake—I can’t wait to nap for a million years, but first, I’m so excited to introduce the reason I haven’t been sleeping for the past few months!

Behold: Worth, Changing: Former Teenage Girls in Conversation!

So, like, high school. What even was that, amirite, ladies? After spending this past summer reading a bunch of books about feminist theory and adolescence and the feminist theory of adolescence, I began to wonder why I entered college so incredibly determined to forget everything that had happened in high school. What was I so afraid of? Had those four years really changed me all that much?

The more I learned about adolescence within the context of gender socialization, the more I wanted to learn about my fellow former teenagers’ high school experiences. Was I the weird one for letting the societal pressures of high school “get to me?” How did my peers feel they’d changed as a result of their teenage years, for better or for worse?

I really value the time and effort my interview subjects (many of whom I didn’t have enough time to write about) put into this project, and I feel like I’ve learned so much from our conversations about their journeys. I hope you find their perspectives as interesting as I do, and I hope it inspires you to ask a friend about their adolescence or share your own story here.

(Huge thanks to T Hetzel and the rest of my Capstone cohort—you guys are truly the best bunch I’ve ever written with.)

Fleeting, or Lasting for a Very Short Time.

I somehow managed to create a podcast…how millennial of me.

I wanna start out with the fact that I thought I would absolutely hate editing, and at times I really did. Listening to your own laughter can be one of the cringiest things possible. It’s even worse when your friend, who has superhuman hearing, can hear it coming from your headphones.

Love that.

Fleeting is a product of loving my partner a little too much. I spent my entire summer struggling with awful mental health and intense burnout. But no matter how much I cried, or how much I wanted to just not exist for a little while (don’t worry, those feelings are too fleeting), Nick remained a constant in my life. No matter what happened, they were reassuring. They video called me. They said I love you before I fell asleep every night. They remained calm when I could not. And I started to learn how to give that back to them. Finding love was hard, especially for me. And I wasn’t the only one. And there’s a lot of power in that.

And next came the podcast. Fleeting is an exploration of how our opinions on love and sex change over time, how they manifest, how we search for these needs in others. And how we find it. And how we lose it sometimes. And then how we find ourselves afterwards.

I really thought this project was going to be a bust. I’d never even touched audio editing software before. I knew how to talk to people, but I didn’t know how to ask questions and get answers.

But, somehow I did it.

And here it is.

Hope you like it.

Wow

Well, this is it. One of my final assignments in college. I better make it good.

While its finality may seem arbitrary, it’s actually incredibly relevant to my Capstone project. For part of my project, I’m writing a personal reflective essay of my college career, using my a cappella group as a lens. I struggled a lot on how to begin this when I had an a-ha moment when writing my site’s Introductory Essay: when describing big picture what I planned to do in the project, I remembered something I watched a long time ago, Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture. The Last Lecture is the life advice the professor, who would soon pass away from terminal cancer, imparted on the audience. It has two parts which I think are relevant to my project, his childhood dreams and the lessons he’s learned.

I’d like to do something similar: trace my journey through college and reflect on why the group is meaningful to me and what I’ve learned from it. However, that seems like both an incredibly tall order (how can I ever compare to a literal last lecture?) and incredibly cheesy and cliquey (ah, yes, I grew in college). We’ve all had these experiences, plus I’m young. What do my lessons mean? Does me echoing past fables mean anything? Would this essay be an empty gesture, a waste of thought, and a waste of space? Of course, I think it’s valuable to me to get my thoughts down. But my audience is greater than that: it’s my group and other interested parties in my group. Or maybe my audience is just me and this entire project has been a way to create a time capsule of this experience…

Well, have fun psychoanalyzing that! (And please let me know how I can navigate cheesiness, doubt, and meaningless mimicry)

I’m my own biggest obstacle

A challenge I’ve continuously faced in my writing career is the fear of starting. You will never see me arriving late anywhere, yet this concept of being early seems to fall short in the academic realm of submitting assignments. I am a notorious procrastinator. I marvel at people’s ability to start drafts weeks in advance. I’m jealous of people who aren’t awake at 3am the day a paper is due while I’m half-consciously adding finishing touches.

For example, last semester I was in an English class that informed in the syllabus us we could write an extra credit essay that would be due a couple of weeks before the final. Over the course of the semester, I knew I needed to do it, but there was always something that seemed more pressing. And there I was at 11pm the night before it was due, finishing Dante’s Inferno. I proceeded to write a three and a half page paper, not going to sleep until 3:30am. (Fun fact, I left my keys at the apartment and had to call my cousin to come let me into the building because my roommate was asleep.)

                                                                (How I felt finishing the paper)

I know that for this class I will have far too much to do to leave it to the last minute. I’ve spent more than a week trying to determine the pieces I want to include, formatting them into PowerPoint, excel, and word documents. I’ve gone over the preliminary things multiple times but find myself struggling to get into the real meat of the project. I’m not exactly what I’m afraid of… Messing up? Not being interesting? Not being able to execute what I set out to do? Maybe jumping right in to research will help getting over this fear? (I feel that fear is not the right word.) I just need to figure out how to get out of my own way.

Dear Minor in Writing

Dear Minor in Writing,

Well old friend, it has come time for us to finally part. It feels like just yesterday that I was applying to Sweetland as a young freshman, sitting nervously in my 9×12 dorm room in Fletcher Hall awaiting my acceptance. Now today, I have just finished the culmination of that very minor, my Capstone project (and plan on submitting it ASAP when my annotated bibliography is done—in due time, I swear).

When I applied to the minor, my original goal was to explore something outside of my major of Elementary Education, but also be able to obtain something that could be used within my major. I wanted to be able to enhance my Language Arts endorsement to use my love of writing for good, to help students learn to love writing as much as I have. I wanted students to love writing not only because they could get an A on a paper, but because it gave them a gateway for escaping, a place they felt safe. I even considered after getting accepted into the program changing my major to Secondary Education, with a focus in English, so that I could primarily help students to apply to college, similarly to how many of my teachers helped me in high school. Writing is where I learned to use my voice, and I wanted to share it with others to help them find their own.

This summer, as we all know, I took a Birthright trip to Macedonia. Through a wild change of plans, I obtained a severe injury that caused a lot to be taken from me. Going into this first semester of my senior year, I almost quit. I was so close to giving up the minor for the sake of my injury. I was so close to not doing it. But I am so glad I didn’t, because I would have been very sorry about it today. I mostly didn’t give it up, though I was encouraged to by many, because I had already worked so hard to allow the School of Education to let me get a LSA minor. I wanted to do it for the future students of the SOE, to inspire them to get a minor if they wanted to (it is pretty uncommon).

But, as the semester progressed, I was surprised but how much the work I was doing was influencing my healing process. I had always been a dancer, someone who chose to escape through movement. Having dance be one of my many limitations at this point, I had to latch onto something else as a means of escaping, a means of coping. And completing this project has given me a sense of peace in this personal trauma, but I know I still have a long ways to go. Yet, I am feeling some closure by the pride I have already felt by being challenged by this project, and succeeding in completing it (I’m not even joking in that I really thought I wouldn’t). But it is done, and I thank the minor, my Capstone colleagues, and the MiW for that.

So with this last signing off, I thank you, Minor in Writing for challenging me, bringing me amongst some of the most brilliantly different yet commonly connected people, showing me that my voice is important, bringing my story to life, and helping me find myself. Thank you for making this one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Thank you.

Nikki

COMING OUT OF MY CAGE AND I’VE BEEN DOIN JUST FINE

So, apparently I have (unfortunately) missed not one but two challenge journals this semester (yeah I suck). So…….stay tuned for my second post of the day later :~)

This post will be primarily to tell you all that I. AM. DONE. I am done!!!!!!! I literally cannot believe that I made it out alive if I am going to be honest with you. This semester long journey has been the hardest of my entire life but I could not have made it without my fellow Capstone friends and T. We did it guys!

Here is the link to my site if anyone is interested: https://ntkrings.wixsite.com/nkrings-capstone17

It has made significant changes even since the last time you all saw it (I think a week ago) but I am so proud of where it has come and SO thankful for the feedback I received along the way. I will give you a little walk through:

  • First, I have the landing page which is obviously titled “Čudnata, the miracle” as you all already know. I took the texts off and included just one quote from my dad, which I think looks a whole lot cleaner than it did before.
  • Next, I have the about section. In the “About the Project,” I have included my intro essay. It morphed from talking about coping and escaping to really integrating the MiW experience for me. I talk about how dance and writing have always been huge parts of my life–loving dance because of the passion it allowed me to feel and loving writing at first through the art of simply being considered “good” at it. I then give short snapshot into the story I present on the site and connect that to how the minor has evolved into being so much more than just a boost of my Language Arts endorsement and how though I originally thought this would be a means for me to help other people, it has really just helped me. My “About the Author” page follows 🙂
  • Next, I have put into one tab “My Story,” where I house all portions of my project. This seems to be significantly cleaner on the site and I really like having a landing page so people can choose to look at the narrative, the choreography || poem, or the photo journey first.
  • The narrative (Near Stillness) has been what I would probably consider my life’s work and is presented as a flip through of 12 chapters. I can’t even express to you the amount of times this semester I had to sit down and just cry about it because it was so hard to write. Even last Monday, knowing the amount of other things I had to do on top of editing the narrative (a whole bitch of 35 single spaced pages in itself), I just came home and cried for like 20 minutes right after our last class. But, having finally come up with a finished product I am extremely proud of, I have decided to pursue making a 65 page novella of it through blurb! I am really excited to see how that turns out and plan on giving copies to my mentors, significant people in my story, and my parents (and you of course, T!)
  • The poem and the choreography (Body, Limited) blossomed into something much more than I could have imagined over the span of the semester. I was so set on having the poem influence the choreography after being influenced by the narrative, but being sidelined by how long the narrative turned out to be, I had to switch my order up a bit. The choreography actually came the first out of everything, and it portrays a straight on recording of my dear friend Anna breathing through my piece. I LOVE how it turned out. The poem was intentionally made indirectionally (not a word but I made it a word for this purpose) and is supposed to be read however feels natural to the reader.
  • The photo journey as you know, has captions and pieces to bring the story to life!
  • The “Background” tab now includes the original inspiration (the OG Google Doc), the downloadable version of Near Stillness, the Mentors, and Resources.

Whew. I almost had to breathe after typing all that. I am SO proud of where this has taken me, and as I say in my About the Author, I truly believe that life has destination points. Upon completion of my Capstone, my culmination of the Minor in Writing, I am at a new place and extremely happy to be here. Would love if you checked out my site when you have a chance to breathe over break! Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone for this semester, it meant the whole world to me.

Introduction to the Minor in Writing

My name is Serena Pergola and I am a junior studying Communications with the Sweetland minor in writing. I plan to focus on marketing and advertising, preferably in the fashion industry. I enjoy sports, traveling and spending time with my family. I hope to further enhance my communication skills and obtain the ability to better express myself through this minor. My favorite form of writing is personal narratives because it helps you to explore yourself and challenges you to go beyond the surface of a situation you have experienced. I think it helps me to get to better know and represent myself.

The Author Adele: Writing 220 E-Portfolio

We made it! It has been a great semester with our class of “tea cup pigs.” So, I first just want to say thank you to everyone, you guys are what made the class so special.

Below is a link to my e-portfolio, The Author Adele, it showcases all the projects from the Gateway course, as well as an extra special one from high school “hidden” somewhere. The theme of my site is “love.” From my love of the U.P to a project on dating, my hope is that my thoughts and feelings on this topic would be understood.

I am very proud of my e-portfolio and hope you enjoy reading through all of my projects! Feel free to contact me with any and all questions!

 

Link: http://theauthoradele.weebly.com/

Enjoy!

-Adele

Advice to the gateway students: A bright future is ahead!

Hello new MiWs!

I’m glad you’ve joined our cult. I think you’re really going to enjoy the gateway course. It has honestly been my favorite class at Michigan and I wish every student got the opportunity to experience it. I guess what makes it so great is that everyone who is in the class wants to be in it — they applied for it! No one thinks they’re ~too cool~ for writing and advice from their peers. I hope you put as much as you can into your time in the gateway course — you will get a good return on your investment. Here’s a few things to keep in mind as you find yourself in the Minor in Writing community your first semester:

  1. Be you! It is definitely intimidating being in a class full of writers, at first. It’s easy to assume that everyone else is probably better and more experienced at writing than you are — don’t. Like I said, you’re going to be in a class full of writers…don’t forget that you, too, are a writer. You’ll soon learn that the best way to grow as a writer is to take down the security wall you have up about what others will think of you and your writing.
  2. Manage your time. This class may require three projects (or at least did when I took it), but do not be fooled — there is much work to be done! You will be tasked with reflecting on your writing processes and given many short, engaging writing assignments. Putting things off until the last minute won’t help you develop as a writer so be strong and push through the want to procrastinate! Also, consider starting the practice of saving multiple drafts of an essay on your computer as you go along (i.e., create a new document every time you revisit and revise the draft) — it is an excellent way to observe how you progress through the revision process and helpful to include in reflective essays about “the making of” your projects!
  3. Use your resources. You are part of the Sweetland Writing community now! That’s an exciting title, but what does it mean? Not only do you have access to one-on-one faculty or peer writing support like all non-minors, you get additional time and a special sign-up schedule for making these appointments. You also get a community of writers who are in the same boat as you: your MiW cohort! I’m sure every group of people is different and group dynamics are always varying, but I cannot stress enough trying to build a bond and connection with your gateway class. I was lucky enough to part of a great group of peers and it made me love writing so much more. We currently have a GroupMe to commiserate in stress about assignments as well as cheer each other on and stay connected — 10/10 would recommend.
  4. Learn to L-O-V-E peer review. I’ll be honest, I was not a fan of peer review in some of my other English classes. Writing a one-page single-spaced letter to three peers at a time for one workshop day x 2-3 workshop days per project seemed daunting. If you feel that way now, it’s ok! Keep your mind open to change because I learned to love it. Peer review is such a great way to a) gather insight on your own writing by reading others’ and being forced to reflect on what worked and didn’t and b) help point your peers in the right direction. Don’t be afraid of being workshopped and don’t be annoyed to write letters — both will help you grow as a writer more than you imagined if you keep an open mind.

Thanks for sticking with me this long and making it to the end. You’re going to have a great semester in the gateway and a great college experience in the minor. Here’s a cute gif to reward you for reading my advice: