Portfolio By Katie, Mapped Out On Paper

After locking myself in the stacks, I have come up with my capstone portfolio map on paper. I’m going to try and use WordPress. I use this platform for my personal blog and I am leaning towards keeping them really similar in format and color scheme so my work has a sort of “brand.”

Navigation Format

It was easiest for me to use sticky notes. I like having a header in the top third of the page for ease of use, so I think I’ll stick with this for my Capstone portfolio.

Home Page
Home Page

I want to separate my work into “left brain” and “right brain” sections. This will require some explanation on the landing page of my portfolio. The left brain work will be more career oriented, while my right brain work will be a bit more expressive. Part of my writing development has been learning how my favorite projects involve my right and left brain, and this is where I’ll explain how to find pieces of each in all my work on the portfolio…that may not be the best visual, pieces of brain 🙂

“Why I Write” Page

This is my writing project from the Gateway. It is where I originally came up with the left-brain/right-brain concept and combines both of these pretty well. I believe it shows evidence of multimodal composition to further specific rhetorical aims.

“About” Section Landing Page

This page will feature a bit more about myself in terms of my goals, both professionally and personally. I am hoping to use pictures and short vignettes about my experiences…we’ll see! One of these could correspond to my resume, and another to my developmental essay.

“Development Essay” Page

This will be the page for my developmental essay, with some reflective writing attached.

“Resume and Contact” Page

This will include links to the websites for the places I’ve worked. I’ll also add a button to my LinkedIn page for people to contact me through, as well as my email.

“Left Brain” Landing Page

This will include some reflective writing to introduce my Capstone project, research paper, and PSIP work and how the three intersect.

Capstone Project Page

This will show evidence of research and will be presented in a format similar to how the current State of the Union transcripts are listed on the White House Press website.

Research Paper Page

This research paper was completed during my internship in Washington, D.C. There will be some reflective writing to introduce it. This paper definitely shows evidence of research employed to deepen and complicate academic work.

PSIP Work Page

I love this job. It’s my campus job and I get to do a lot of work with Prezi and social media. I want this page to really incorporate some  right brain elements in it’s presentation…I am still looking into how to do this. Suggestions?

“Right Brain” Landing Page

This will have some reflecting writing as well introducing the two pieces.

Personal Blog Page

My blog has been a great place for me to keep up with my short term goals and a fun way to express myself outside of the classroom. I want to include it in the portfolio because I think it shows my lighthearted side.

325 Essay Page

This piece is definitely reflective. It’s an essay about how I struggled with anxiety…how ironic that I’m nervous to include it. I think I want to go for it though. I want my portfolio to capture the whole essence of my writing career in the minor, not just academically driven projects.

(ignore the fact that it says “samples from blog” as I forgot to remove the sticky note before I took the picture!)

P.S. I worked on adding the pages on my site: portfoliobykatie.wordpress.com. I had to move the “Why I Write” page over to the “About” tab but I feel it fits pretty well there. Now onto drafting out my capstone and editing my developmental essay!

Katie’s Capstone Project

My capstone project, which I am hoping to draft out this weekend (keep your fingers crossed for me!), is the 2015 State of the Union speech as I think it will be presented. I have always been interested in speechwriting (although speech giving freaks me out) and figured this would be a good way to jump right in and try it out!

President Obama’s previous State of the Union Addresses average out to about an hour long, meaning my project would be around twenty pages of double-spaced, twelve-point font writing. I will include pauses for applause, reflection, etc. and will bring Obama’s voice into the project as best as possible.

I’m limited in this project due to the fact that I don’t actually know what he will write about or what stories he will choose to include, but through research I am figuring out what the structure and topics will most likely be.

I may present my capstone project similar to how these speeches are presented on the White House website on my capstone portfolio, with the header included. We shall see!

Here is a link to last year’s State of the Union, which I have been picking apart and reverse engineering: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/01/28/president-barack-obamas-state-union-address

Capstone on and Go Blue, Beat MSU!


The New Year’s Resolution That Doesn’t Have To Wait

In class yesterday we worked with a tool on www.writersdiet.com. This exercise allowed us to examine a paragraph from our developmental essays, discovering where our writing is on a scale from “lean” to “heart attack territory.” My paragraph received an overall “needs toning” rating, especially when it came to verbs and it, this, that, and there words.

 Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 3.19.16 PM



A few pieces of my writing have been completely free from a rubric. I wrote a letter to the editor following last year’s State of the Union Address, and it ended up getting published in the Michigan Daily and the Detroit Free Press. I was upset about the republican response to the speech, and I used this anger to create my own ‘prompt’ of sorts. This was one of my proudest moments as a writer. Obviously, I am my own worst critic, and I can look at the piece and see a million different changes I would make were I to write it all over again, but I got so much pleasure writing this and it has shown me how central writing is to my life. If I see things I disagree with, I can write through those frustrations to enact change. It has opened up many new career possibilities for me, including speechwriting and ghostwriting, supporting political players who align with my ideology. My capstone project, writing the State of the Union address, is my first foray into this type of writing. This is one of the greatest things about the Minor – I have been able to explore these types of writing with substantial faculty support and without worrying about a numerical score associated with the writing. 

            I went through, editing the highlighted words and restructuring sentences. Some phrases, such as “State of the Union” and “Letter to the Editor” couldn’t be changed, but the process was helpful! After my edits, I received a lean rating in all categories… I think I took unhealthy pride in this 🙂 I enjoyed using the Writers Diet tool and plan on running some paragraphs from other class assignments through the tests as well!

 Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 3.19.31 PM




Occasionally, I find ways to write rubric-free. I wrote a letter to the editor following last year’s State of the Union Address, and the Michigan Daily and the Detroit Free Press published my submission. Upset about the formal republican response, I created my own ‘prompt’ of sorts and wrote the letter instead of just complaining with my friends. As my own worst critic, I can look at the piece and see a couple small changes I would make after reflection, but I got so much pleasure writing the letter and the experience showed me how essential writing is to my life. I now comment on disagreeable things, enacting change with my writing. Discovering opportunities for writing outside of my small-minded concept of the practice leads me toward new careers, including speechwriting and ghostwriting. My first academic foray into these genres is my capstone project, writing the State of the Union address. The ability to explore these styles encapsulates the Minor in Writing I receive substantial faculty support and do not fret over a numerical score associated with my writing.



A Brief History of the State of the Union Address


The SOTU: Joe Biden’s favorite night of the year

The State of the Union Address has been an American institution since the U.S. Constitution was ratified. Article II, Section 3 Clause 1 states the President “shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” Originally known as the Annual Message, it began to be called the “state of the Union” towards the end of World War II and has officially been referred to as the State of the Union Address for over sixty years.

In the 1800’s, the President would give an update on the economy and outline budget requests. In the 1900’s, Congress passed the National Budget and Accounting Act of 1921 and the Employment Act of 1946, requiring the President to deliver a budget message and an economic report separate from what was then the Annual Message. The average length of the State of the Union was 10,000 words during these times, partly because most presidents did not deliver the speech in person.

While Presidents now give personal appearances before Congress to deliver their speeches, this was not always the case. In 1913, President Woodrow Wilson presented his message to Congress in person, a novel occurrence at the time. As recent as 1981, however, it was not uncommon these addresses to be written. President Jimmy Carter wrote the longest State of the Union Address this year, with a length of 33,878 words, and luckily for Congress he didn’t stand in the House of Representatives reading it to them for hours.

The State of the Union Address officially serves to update the public about the economy and national security, but in recent years it has been used as a Presidential platform to roll out the agenda for the year. The speeches aren’t just a pulse check; they are rather used to determine what will be done about the problems discussed in the speech.

One thing I found interesting while looking up information about the State of the Union Address is the fact that President Clinton had to deliver his 1998 speech just days after news broke of the Monica Lewinsky scandal. I anticipated he would use this speech as a national platform to attempt to clear is name to a wide audience, but instead he remained true to the intention of the speech, speaking for an hour and fifteen minutes about Social Security and the budget. I think this is a good example of how important this speech has become for our country and why we should value it as a society. Without the speech, we may not be on the same page regarding what is important and what will be in the political spotlight, and we can’t adjust our lobbying or voting patterns adequately without this information.



“Clinton Stays On His Message.” CNN Online 27 Jan. 1998. Web. 18 Oct. 2014.

 History, Art & Archives, U.S. House of Representatives, “State of the Union Address,” http://history.house.gov/Institution/SOTU/State-of-the-Union/ (October 18, 2014)

Pitching a Speech

Dear Prospective Publisher,

I am enrolled in the Sweetland Minor in Writing program, and for our Capstone course we are required to take on a rigorous project that is of interest to us as writers. As a senior in the Ford School, I am extremely interested in the intersection of policy and writing.

For my project, I will be writing a State of the Union speech for this January as if I am one of President Obama’s speechwriters. This will require me to learn about speechwriting, the presidency, and President Obama’s political agenda. The speech will be about 20 pages, double-spaced and, if read aloud, will be about an hour long. The intended audience of the project will be Americans who are interested in the health of the nation.

I am proposing that the speech be published in your current events journal. It will run in the December issue, just before the actual State of the Union Address. Readers of the journal will be interested to see how the events you discuss in your journal translate to policy actions. Formatted into the speech will be pictures your journal has previously published this year, illustrating issues such as poverty, education, foreign affairs, and the economy through both written text and images.

My studies in the Ford School make me qualified to write this work. Every day I take courses on the very issues addressed in the annual State of the Union speech. I have interned on Capitol Hill and in advocacy organizations in D.C., so I am very well acquainted with our nation’s politics. Additionally, as a Sweetland Minor in Writing student, I have been encouraged to try new mediums such as this, and have support to complete this project.

I have watched the State of the Union since I was a child. It was always an important night in my household, and its importance to my family is one of the reasons I became interested in politics in the first place. Please allow me to publish this work in your journal. Your photographs combined with my speech will provide your monthly readers with a unique article they won’t soon forget.



Katie Koziara




Income inequality continues to be one of our nation’s toughest issues. Inequality exists between men and women, Whites and minorities, and regions of the country. Women continue to make only 78 cents for every dollar earned by men. White Americans have a real median household income of $58,270, which is $18,000 more than Hispanic Americans and $24,000 more than Black Americans. Southern and Midwestern states struggle to reach the household income that their fellow citizens in the Northeast and West bring home. These disparities are unacceptable, and they need to be solved.

Women hold signs demanding Equal Pay for Equal Work
Women hold signs demanding Equal Pay for Equal Work


Welcome Back! Time To Make Another(‘s) Writing Decision!

I worked with Margot during this workshop. Since we took the Gateway course together and were in the same small group for one of the projects, we had a bit of background knowledge about each other’s writing style, major, etc. By the time we were supposed to debrief with the class, we realized we had been talking so much about our interests that we hadn’t even fleshed out project ideas! After a little bit of time to catch up with the rest of the class, I think we came up with some innovative concepts.

Initially, I was excited about Margot’s suggestions. A few of them seemed a bit scary to me (a choose-your-own-adventure story and a TV pilot starring Jon Hamm and Mindy Kaling!) but this was because they were different from what I have worked on in the past, not because they were misaligned with my interests. I think she really got what I was trying to do by examining my past projects. I challenged myself with a lot of different “new media” type projects in the Gateway course, so she kept trying to think of other media options I hadn’t explored yet. All of the suggestions were interesting to me, especially the ones involving speechwriting and writing self-help books. I think Margot took some time to reflect on my major as well, picking ideas that were both creative but also relevant for my future career in public policy.

While I had the privilege of working with someone who knew me and had read my work in the past, I can still use this exercise to identify things I will tell others when soliciting advice in the future. I think my career goals influence my topic choices in a big way. I like to think of my writing as not just an expression of myself, but also a project with a clear objective. This can definitely put me in a box sometimes, but I work hard to choose writing mediums that are foreign to me in order to combine both the goal-oriented side to my writing, which motivates me to begin a project, with the creative aspects of writing, which bring me back to my work once it has begun. Realizing through this exercise that both of these aspects fuel my work, I’m going to pick a project that will show me a new way to express my ideas while keeping it within the realm of my field of study.

Cory and Shawn from Boy Meets World fist bumping
Thanks for the ideas, Margot!




Making Another Writer’s Decisions

When looking at my project ideas I get a little overwhelmed.  I am not sure what to do specifically for my project and I always tend to get a little flustered when having to choose a topic for projects that are open ended.  I think Ben understood my interest fairly well and tried to make the interview as useful as possibly with the time we had to talk about subjects.  He gave me a good idea on a type of media to try, which is Prezi.  I have never used Prezi before, but I have seen multiple presentations using it and they look great and flowed well for the presenter.  I’m not sure that there are any topics on my list that I would be interested in pursing for this project.  The main topic that we talked about that I was considering doing for the project was speech synthesis.  Speech synthesis is basically the communication between humans and computers.  The only reason I am not considering this for my project is because I feel that it may be a little too technical and it may get boring over the course of an entire semester.  I think that Ben was led to propose the idea of speech synthesis because it came up when we were talking about interest and the topic also ties into my major, which is linguistics.  Based on this experience in the future I may be less forward about saying certain things that interest me and maybe let them be pried out because it may make the topic something that would be more creative and seem less forced.  I do not think that because of using this method it will change how I solicit advice in the future, because I tend to use a type of interview method to figure out topic ideas, but mostly it is just talking it out with someone.   This experience is sort of sending me back to the drawing board as far as finding a topic, because I did not find anything that was particularly interesting the first round.  I will have to implore other brainstorming methods to try to find a project that will suit me best for the semester.