A Final Post

Well, this semester certainly flew by. I think I’ll avoid saying that I’ve had a great time at U of M and that I can’t believe I’m graduating in just a couple of weeks because I think everyone else in the capstone is experiencing the same thing. Instead, I’ll just tell you a little bit about my project and stay in my happy place denying the fact that I won’t be returning to Ann Arbor next Fall.

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Something I dream of is living in a world where people are well informed and communication is flawless. Naturally, this can’t happen, but I wanted to dedicate my time to creating a project that would at least give a little push in that direction. Because I am a bit of a science junky, especially in biological science, I created an analysis of misconceptions in science. I focused on GMOs (and a little bit on vaccines) to investigate the question of why the opinion of the general public seems to differ from the opinion of the majority of scientists. My overall goal was to encourage the audience to do more research on anything they don’t fully understand before forming an opinion about it.

So, here it is: http://kngilb.wix.com/capstone-portfolio

And with that, I’m officially done with my work at the University. I can’t believe it’s over already.



A New Chapter

Today is the last day of classes for me at University of Michigan.  I’m feeling more reminiscent and sentimental than usual.  Recently, I’ll be doing fine one minute–excited as I print headshots for our Musical Theatre showcase in New York city or as I make reservations at restaurants for graduation.  But, the next minute, I’m standing on State Street weeping like a baby because the sunset is so beautiful over the Michigan Theatre.  I realize that everything is becoming a last…my last sandwich at Zingerman’s, last Saturday morning at the Farmer’s Market, last welcome Wednesday, last dance class, last blog post.

So, right now I’m hungering for  things that I can hold onto.  I found that this portfolio, this project became one of those things.  It’s a tangible, lasting, public documentation of my growth here over the past four years.  It tells of my evolution as a writer and as a human being.  And my project speaks about one of the most important experiences of my time here.  I find comfort in the fact that I had this time to reflect and to document this beautiful, crazy journey.   So, maybe I can’t have a loco frita from Frita Batidos anytime I want or sit in the law quad in the summer sun drinking a bubble tea or sit on the roof of my apartment early in the morning to watch the sunrise over Ann Arbor.  But I have a way that I can look back on that chapter once I’ve moved into the next one.  And I can remind myself that change is a good thing, that the journey is winding and uncertain and often full of chaos…but it is beautiful.  And I’m thankful for that.

Link to final portfolio and project:






My last Minor in Writing blog post! It hasn’t really hit me yet that I will be graduating, but I am at least trying to document my “lasts.” Although it is bittersweet to finish my minor experience, it is exciting because it means my project and portfolio are done!  While stressful at time, I am really happy with my finished for the Capstone. I was wary about how the portfolio would turn out because I never liked my Gateway portfolio that much. It just seems like a random collection of writing that doesn’t have a cohesive theme or look.

This time around I wanted to create a portfolio with a real purpose, and thus we get In-between: Transitional Writing at a Transitional Time. I came up with the “in-between” theme after reviewing my four years of work and realizing that most of my writing fits into either academic or personal, but my favorite writing are the pieces that mix the two genres. My portfolio organizes my writing samples into the academic, personal, and in-between genres and the categories are fleshed out in my writer’s evolution.

I came up with the in-between idea initially because it seemed like an interesting way to organize my portfolio, but the more I thought about it my writer’s evolution and making my portfolio, it became a much more important theme. With this approach, I feel like I learned more about what I’ve gained in my undergraduate writing and what I want my future writing to look like. This seems like it should be an obvious outcome of a Capstone course, but I’m pretty cynical person so I really didn’t expect this at the beginning of the semester. So I end the minor pleasantly surprised, and hopeful that other people will enjoy my portfolio as well!

Who am I writing to?

To be honest, I was pretty far into creating my E-Portfolio until I could pin down who I was actually writing to, or maybe who I was writing for. I knew my focus would not be employers, because I am going into a business field and this portfolio showcases more of my creative, personal writing. I thought about simply writing to who I knew would be reading my E-Portfolio- the people who have to, right? So maybe I could write just to Shelley and my other reader. However, as this year comes to a close and I spend much of my time helping dozens of underclassmen with professional development, essay editing, mock interviews and other tasks, I realized that mentorship is a passion of mine and I can incorporate this into my E-Portfolio. I want my work to ultimately help others, so I decided to focus my E-Portfolio construction on current, prospective and future minors. I want my audience to get a holistic glimpse into my undergraduate writing journey, or as I frame it, curriculum. I want to share with them the value of taking a wide variety of writing-based classes, getting comfortable with diverse genres and taking risks when necessary. Lastly, I want to simply provide ideas on how to incorporate and bring together different passions through writing. For me, this was business communications and education. For others, it may be something completely different, but I want to show them that they can do that through the capstone project. If you are reading this, I invite you to look at my E-Portfolio to see if this theme rings true. If you are a current or prospective minor, I hope my capstone project and E-Portfolio can help you in some way- whether it is deciding what courses to take or learning from someone else who has been in your shoes before- the good and the bad!

Am I an Adult Yet?

Well this is it. By the last word of this post, I will be done with college.

I have started this post about 6 different times already, deleted everything, and stepped away from the computer. There is a lot of pressure to get this done – I don’t want my last assignment to be mediocre. But hey, I guess I’m graduating either way.

So with that, click here to check out my portfolio!



It took me a long time to settle on the theme, but it ended up being worth the wait. The collision theme has such a deeply personal meaning to me, which I hope showed up in a passionate way.

All of the pieces of writing I chose to include were about an internal conflict dealing with compromises in my personality or voice. This struggle is something I experience on a daily basis, but I think the combination and clashing of personality traits ultimately leads to more beautiful and nontraditional results. I hope that my portfolio is another example of that!

As I’ve matured in age, I like to believe my writing has matured as well. It has become much more open and unapologetically raw, which is scary, but I think the vulnerability has helped the work become more real. I’m super scared for you all to read my portfolio (or at least pretend to).

Quick nostalgic note:

I swear that I was just applying to be a minor in writing, and now it is all done. I truly cannot believe how much I learned. I definitely lived in ignorance about all of the ways to improve your writing and just how many ways there are to explore and experiment with new techniques. I am so grateful for the minor (and all of my professors and classmates) for giving me a safe space to do that in.

Peace out college!

Illustrations and goodbyes?

As I was writing this post, I realized it may be one the last posts I make on the minor in writing (if not THE last post).  I can’t help but be sad and relieved.  I often feel like I am writing into a void when I write here, which may or may not be the case.  Writing these posts has been frustrating at times, although the mini-assignments Shelley has had us posting about have helped me tremendously with my project and my eportfolio.  It seems like just a week or so ago, I was still doing draft and development mini assignments, but now I am working on revising and refining.  (Where has this entire semester gone?!)  So here it is, my final mini-assignment…

5.    Integrating Visual Illustrations

Visual illustrations can be inviting, distracting, confusing, or illuminating, depending on how they are used. The key principle is to employ them self-consciously and with a clear sense of purpose. Read through your work and identify places where you are either already using an illustration, have the impulse to use an illustration, or where you’d like to challenge yourself to use an illustration. For each, ask yourself: “Why do I need [this/an] image? How [does it/could it] aid the reader’s understanding? [Does it/would it] supplement rather than duplicate what is already in the text?” Write a brief reflection in which you discuss what images you’ve decided to use (or not) and why.



For my eportfolio, I wanted to keep the style very plain and simple.  Because of that, I didn’t want to add very many pictures.  My “Home” page is also serving as my “About Me” page, so I wanted to include a picture of myself (one of the few pictures that I would actually inclued).  I analyzed this photo in an earlier mini-assignment, which is how I convinced myself it was a good picture that summarized me (the block M and being outdoors).  Upon further inspection, I realized that the picture also fits well with my eportfolio theme.  I want to emphasize that my writing makes me feel “free” and that throughout my time in the minor, I have found more freedom in what I write.  This picture of me standing, looking at the ocean as the wind blows symbolizes that freedom.  I think I have done a good job at making the “freedom” theme explicit in the paragraph on the home page of the eportfolio, so this image should click with the reader as well.  Even if they don’t understand the image at first glance (I mean, they can’t even see my face and its my “about me” photo…), I hope that it is something that clicks after they have read the paragraph and/or my evolution essay.  This image is a perfect reflection of how I feel when I write, and I hope the reader picks up on that when they go through my portfolio.

Who Am I Writing To?

I have come to a crossroads with my evolution essay.  I want to talk about how I feel like I have more freedom with my writing than I have ever before, yet I still wrote my entire essay in a traditional essay format.  After talking to Shelley, we brainstormed a few ideas for some structural edits I could make to my essay, but she suggested I try this exercise to further develop some ideas to make my essay even better.  I am supposed to write down the names of four real people and do the following:

Read your work aloud and try to imagine each person’s response. How welcome into your work is each person? How much would they understand? To what extent would they buy in to your work? You may or may not want to write in a way that each of them could understand, but it should help you make some decisions about what is working in the current draft and what needs work. Once you’ve done this, write a paragraph or two discussing the most important insights you gained from this exercise and a plan for what you’ll need to revise (and how) in the next draft.

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 6.34.59 PM<- Thanks brainyquote.com

Here goes nothing!

Mini Assignment: Who are you writing to?

A top expert in your field (someone whom you would really like to impress)

Fritz Swanson.  He was my English 325 professor and gave me the most honest feedback of any professor I have had in college.  He knew what I wanted to convey in my essays, even if I was unsure of it as I was writing.

His reaction:  This is a good start, but think about how your message and structure connect.  If you are arguing that you have become more creative with your writing and no longer feel constrained by the traditional essay format, why is it that you use it here?  The argument is clear in the words, but not in the structure.  Think of how you could mess this piece up so its not exactly what the reader expects.

A close peer in the minor in writing (someone who would give you a fair and honest critique of your work)

Melody, currently in my capstone course, was also in my gateway, and is conveniently my roommate 🙂

Her reaction: Dude (yes, I’m pretty sure she would start with this exactly), I like it, but I thought you wanted a more creative theme to tie it all together.  What happened to that?  Go with your gut!

A peer from outside the minor in writing

Rachael, another roommate of mine who is conveniently a writing tutor at Sweetland.

Her reaction: I like it!  It is clear what you are trying to get across.  Be careful with repetition of words and sentence structure, though.

Someone who isn’t an expert in writing or in your field

Danielle, my final roommate (see a trend here?).

Her reaction: You might want to add specific examples, rather than just summarizing things.  This would help with your argument.


That was kind of fun, actually!  It was good that I picked four people who would look at my project very differently.  I am bummed I didn’t stick with my original theme for my essay (I was going to use a jail cell as a metaphor), but I think its for the best.  The most important thing I need to change about my essay is its structure so it can match the argument of my essay.  I think instead of going in chronological order (something evolution implies), I will use flashbacks to go back in time between discussions of my most recent writing.  This will allow me to compare and contrast certain types of writing, for example comparing my first science writing piece to my most recent one.

People I’d like to impress for my evolution essay

My evolution essay is based on the idea of acquiring different “skills” as I’ve dabbled in more genres of writing. I move through these skills in an unspoken chronological order. I always thought of my audience as someone who is interested in my writing and the minor in writing committee who will be reading my work. I didn’t really think about people outside of these two audiences who would be interested, but I considered the following people I would like to impress with my essay:

A top expert in your field (business)

  • Warren Buffet, businessman and investor
  • His reaction: “What the heck is this??” In all seriousness, he would not know what this is and why he’s reading it. He writes an annual letter to his shareholders (a whopping 30 pages long for his 2015 letter!!) that focuses on his investments, why they’re going well or going badly, blah blah, so this topic specifically focused on writing might be foreign to him. But, I think he would appreciate the reflection and growth in my writing because he reflects about his company in these letters. He writes in a very conversational and easy to understand tone, which is an approach I’ve taken as well. I’d imagine he’d like the “skills” format I use because it’s something similar to a resume.

A close peer in the minor in writing

  • Kaitlynn , currently in my capstone section and was also in my gateway course
  • Her reaction: I imagine Kaitlynn would find the way I structured my essay a little boring. She told me she is using more of a “concrete theme” for her evolution essay. Mine is not necessarily creative in that aspect.

A peer from outside the minor in writing

  • Rachael, not in the Minor in Writing, but she works for Sweetland as a writing consultant and is an English major
  • Their reaction: I think she would be surprised about the different kinds of writing I’ve tackled. Since she works at Sweetland, she would understand what the essay is about and understand my progression. She actually read the nature essay that I talk about in my draft.

Someone who isn’t an expert in writing or in your field

  • Jun, computer science major who spends his whole day coding
  • Their reaction: I don’t want to discount Jun’s knowledge, but he doesn’t do much writing and just asked me the other day to read over a sentence he wrote. I think he would like this and think that it’s good that my writing has changed so much over the years. I would hope he likes reading my writing excerpts.

Well that was fun. Reflecting about people who I want to impress, I realized that an expert in my field (business) may not be the person I necessarily focus on because they wouldn’t understand the nature of the essay. They would think it’s cool to see my changes, but I think they would rather see actual examples of my work (or maybe something with graphs and stuff.) I think the “skills” format is helpful because they know what I’m able to do within my writing.

I think my friends who are either involved in writing or even not involved in writing would enjoy reading my evolution essay because it shows my growth as a person throughout college. But, I wonder if they would find the format boring… I enjoy it though, but maybe that comes down to formatting the aesthetics of the paper.



JUST DO IT! – Getting over writer’s block

Hey friends!

As the Minor in Writing Portfolio and Capstone Project deadline draws spookily close, I am feeling a bit of anxiety. I imagine that I’m not the only one! There is this sense of pressure for perfection that I’m feeling, especially with graduation looming. I’m feeling like, in a small way, this final portfolio and project are a summation of my experience at Michigan, my growth as a writer and my potential as I’m leaving this place. I think that pressure is what’s making me feel a little tense every time I sit down to work on my project or papers. I get this feeling often with writing. I’ll put off writing an essay, application or even business email because I want it to be great. I’m worried that what I’ll write won’t be what it needs to be or could be, so I just keep putting it off. Then the task looms larger and larger until it becomes this big insurmountable and daunting task. But, I’m sitting here in Starbucks thinking, I love this project! I love to write! I love the work I’m putting on my portfolio! So, I’ve been working on ways to get past the stress of this and focus on the joy of it. I found this cool article about how to get past writer’s block. The article focuses on silencing the inner critic, which is something I think each of us struggle with.




It suggests some creative ways to get your writing groove back. One is a method that our professor shared earlier this semester-free writing for a set amount of time. You set a time and just write whatever comes to mind without worry of sentences or structure or productivity. Take the pressure off. Another is to get your cursor set up on your computer and turn the brightness down until the screen goes black. Then just write. Apparently this can decrease the anxiety over how much you’ve written so far.


I’ve also been working on some different tactics of my own. Recently, I’ve been scheduling times to sit down and write different parts of my project and portfolio so that I don’t put it off until later. I pick a chunk of time and write it down in pen in my planner like I would a meeting or class so that I can’t schedule anything else during that time. I’ve been experimenting with different coffee shops (and coffee drinks!) and fun music playlists.  Recently, Imagine Dragons and Stevie Wonder have been really doing it for me.  There’s also a new DJ series at the State Street Starbucks!  The DJ himself is slightly distracting as he really gets into spinning the tracks at the center bar, but the music variety is helpful and entertaining.  Most of all, I’ve been trying to step back and remind myself that I love doing this. I think in the crunch of end-of-semester, graduation, exams and projects, we can forget this. I don’t want to lose the joy in this journey! I hope some of these ideas can help you too!

Instagram Your Way Into a Job

Hi Minor in Writing Friends!

I’ve had social media on the brain a lot recently, and Instagram in particular.. I’ve got some recent musings on Instagram I’d like to share. Instagram seems to be the hot mode of social media. As a member of the Facebook generation, I’m trying to wrap my mind around the mammoth force that Instagram has become. As part of my recent internship with University Musical Society, they asked me to take over the University of Michigan account for the week. The University of Michigan has 99.3 k followers, which meant that almost a million people were probably seeing what I was posting. What?!?


University of Michigan's Insta Account
University of Michigan’s Insta Account

A friend and Michigan graduate who recently played the lead role in the National Tour of Broadway’s NEWSIES reminded me a few weeks ago to get my Instagram followers up. She said that when Broadway directors come between two actresses for a role and can’t decide, they check out the number of Instagram followers and go with the actress who has the most followers. Yep. I’m serious. But it makes sense! If one actress has 987 followers and the other has 55k, the latter actress provides the Broadway show with free publicity to a preexisting fan base of 55k people! It’s smart. We’ve also talked about it a good deal recently in our Capstone course about linking our Instagram account to our online portfolios to give potential employers a way to connect with you on another level. Yesterday, Barry Ivan, a major force in film casting, came to talk to one of my classes. He told us that there is one professional tool at all our disposal that is an invaluable asset in getting into auditions and getting cast that we aren ‘t utilizing. Can you guess what it was? You got it. Instagram. But he had an interesting thought. It wasn’t so much about what we were posting, but about who we were following. He suggested that if we are about to go into an audition, figure out who is on the creative and casting team and follow them on Instagram before you go in to audition. Most importantly, start liking their photos. Why? Barry said that every time you light up that heart on Insta, your name pops up on the casting director or director’s phone. What if they’re on a break in a frustrating casting session and check their phone to see your name pop up? He said that more often than you’d think, that inspires the casting director to say, “Oh! Christina Maxwell just liked my photo…she would be great for this actually. Huh, we should call her in!” Just like that! And it makes sense for any type of job-not just performing! Check on this article I recently found online about how to use Instagram to get hired. I think you’ll find it quite insightful.


Happy Instagramming!

PS: You can follow me @cmax1993 😉