Learning for Learning’s Sake

To those who know me, my Capstone project will say a lot, but not a lot of anything new. My family and friends know about my interest in the death penalty; they know what it stems from and they understand why its so fitting to who I am. To those who don’t know me, my Capstone serves as a representation- though a subtle one- of my identity. Despite its very specific, and seemingly un-personal, topic, I hope my capstone will encapsulate me better than any “about me” page I could come up with: my love of law, my belief that people deserve second chances, my morality that tells me why the death penalty is wrong, my rationality that tell me why it doesn’t make sense. My desire to both learn- from those more knowledgeable- and my desire to inform those who wish to learn more. My passion for learning about and arguing against the death penalty is a part of my identity- as much as my gender and values and religion may be- because it represents something that I care deeply about.

I love to learn- that’s another part of my identity. I don’t know how well I’ll be able to actually show how much I love to learn in my project, but I think my journey to complete the project will satisfy that desire. I’ve already s spoken to one UM law/psychology professor. She was older, and brilliant. She was captivated by my desire to learn for the sake of learning, so she talked for an hour- and I listened. I was captivated by her- by her beliefs and her ability to articulate those beliefs, by her dedication to sharing her knowledge with others. She talked about race. She talked about money. She mentioned abortion. Some aspects of our conversation pertained to capital punishment, some had absolutely nothing to do with it. At the end, she asked for my resume- she wanted to forward it along to the director of the Death Penalty Information Center (I had a little celebration to myself immediately after this).

I’ll let the resume bring me into my social media presence (while my resume is not at all social media, I think it constitutes media). I’m not really using social media anywhere in my capstone- which is intentional. I don’t like my social media accounts. I have a Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest (not really into Twitter). My Facebook and Instagram really just show pictures of my and my friends- nothing too exciting.  I do have a lot of followers, I think I’m at around 1,200 on instagram, and while I don’t fully understand why (my Instagram really isn’t special), I do think it’ll help me. Maybe it’ll show employers that I have a lot of connections? I’m still figuring it out. The purpose of my social media accounts has more to do with me wanting a place to keep all of my pictures and moments, than it does with me displaying my identity.

I thought I’d add my change to Whitman’s “Song of Myself.” I did it quickly, and poetry has never been my specialty, but I hope it will at least be somewhat entertaining:

I work myself, and teach myself,

And what I learn you shall learn,

For all knowledge belonging to me as good belongs to you.

I study and instruct my soul,

I marvel and wonder at my ease observing a professor in her element.

My mind, every atom of my brain, form’d from this place, this education,

Fostered here of information fostered here from information the same, and

information the same,

I, now twenty-two years old in process of learning begin,

Planning to cease not till death.

2 thoughts to “Learning for Learning’s Sake”

  1. Hi Emily!

    First of all, that’s SO cool that the law professor asked for your resume to pass along to the director of the Death Penalty Information Center–what an amazing end to what sounds like a really meaningful conversation that the two of you had. In terms of your portfolio showcasing your identity, I think focusing on your love of learning is a great idea. Since your project is about a very specific topic, I think it will be interesting to broaden your portfolio to a larger conversation, but still one that is very relevant to your project and identity as a whole. I think there are a lot of ways you could go with it, which I’m sure will be fun for you to explore. Something that just came to my mind is the idea that you learn through everything that you do, which can be seen in the writing that you create.

    I can’t wait to see the progression of both your capstone project and your portfolio!


  2. Emily,

    This project is shaping into something very cool. By saying, “I hope my capstone will encapsulate me better than any “about me” page I could come up with”, you’ve established a deep, personal connection to your project that will help make it especially powerful. It’s also important that you’ve established this as your direction – I was a little concerned your project was going to be an identity-less landing page about capital punishment. Now, it’s clear your project will be linked to your passionate opposition to the death penalty, something I’m very interested in reading, especially considering my own, and a large part of the general public’s blasé view of this important issue.


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