Intro to My Capstone Project

So excited to finally share my capstone project and my eportfolio. This whole Minor in Writing thing has been such a great experience and this project has been a fun way to look back on my time at the University of Michigan. It gave me the ability to reflect on my experiences, while learning more about the unique experiences other students have had while here. Especially since my experience as a neuroscience major has differed from many other students within the writing minor.

For my capstone project, I decided to expand on my experiences as a medical school hopeful at the University of Michigan. Throughout my four years here, I have often turned to university resources to help guide me through my undergraduate experiences. For example, I often needed advice on how to navigate which extracurricular activities to get involved in, how to survive a rigorous academic schedule and how to enjoy Ann Arbor. For my capstone project, I decided to investigate whether the resources provided by the university gave meaningful information/advice that can actually help guide other students through their time at the University of Michigan as well. To do so, I gathered advice from both university resources and from graduating seniors to determine how well the two sources matched up. Initially, I expected that student advice would be quite different from that listed on university resources; however, there are some uncanny similarities in several areas. The website that I created serves as a medium to share the results of my comparisons, while hopefully acting as a comprehensive guide to the University of Michigan experience. Additionally, I received a plethora of unexpected advice that I believe will serve a unique purpose by encouraging students to take advantage of their time in Ann Arbor and to grow as well-rounded individuals beyond their field of interest. I hope that by exploring the site linked below, you will learn more about the true University of Michigan experience. 

Capstone Link:  megsb2.wixsite.com/meg1capstone

 

Shameless Plug

I figured it’s about time to give a little update on my project. While I am very excited about the beginning design of my wix site, I still have a lot to do. I have done plenty of genre research on how the set up the educational site and I have realized that I want mine to be slightly more aesthetically appealing and to include more images than the traditional university resource site.

As far as other research, I am still waiting on students to return completed survey–as that is the most important component of my project research. While I have gotten a few surveys back thus far, I have found that waiting for people to complete them might be the most difficult part of the project. I hate leaving my fate (and also this project’s fate) in the hands of others, but I’m trying my hardest to be patient.

I have a lot of ideas about how I want to continue to design/organize my wix site, but I won’t be able to decide for sure until I get student feedback. Currently, I am hoping to compare student answers with university resource advice in a side-by-side format. If their advice is similar, I will be able to comment on that and show the connection; however, if the advice is quite different (as I am expecting), then it will be even more interesting to see the two side-by-side.

Additionally, I can’t really organize the basic tabs based on topic yet. I need to get a better idea of what the student advice is mostly focused on. I know there will be advice about academics because I asked about that specifically, but other general advice could differ. I am expecting advice about extracurriculars and general college/partying advice.

Basically, as the title of this blog post indicates….here is my shameless plug:

PLEASE FILL OUT MY SURVEY!!!!!

Channeling my inner Rory Gilmore

 

For the past three months, I have been mulling over the most difficult and important decision of my life–where I want to attend medical school. As one of the few students who actually gets to make this decision, I feel beyond blessed to have been accepted to multiple schools. While I have narrowed down my choices to two, Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine and Wayne State University School of Medicine, I am now stuck.

Last Monday I was able to shadow an M1 at OUWB and today I shadowed an M2 at Wayne. I noticed immediately that the two schools are very different in terms of curriculum, environment and clinical opportunities. The trouble with these differences is that I cannot decide which aspects are most important to my decision-making process.

Similarly to how Twyla Tharp uses a box as her organizational system, I have followed in Rory Gilmore’s Pro/Con List footsteps. For difficult decisions, both Rory and I turn to writing a pro/con lists for inspiration. With a notebook full of scribbled facts, likes, dislikes and questions about each school, I had plenty of material to work with from both interview days and shadowing experiences. When I sat down to look over these notes and each school’s website, my bullet points quickly evolved into page-long columns of pros and cons. While I still have until April 30th to make my final decision, I know that this classic writing exercise has helped me (as it has often helped Rory) in the right direction.

Stay tuned for updates during the decision process….

I also just realized that this decision has completely consumed my mind and I have failed to connect it to my project what-so-ever. So here is my attempt to do so:

  • Just as pro/con lists have always helped me make decisions, I need to remember which writing techniques have been successful in the past. These could be useful throughout the entire project. Some examples: free writing ideas and editing as I go.
  • Sometimes it helps just to write. If I am having trouble with my project, it may be helpful just to write down my ideas, what questions I have or even make a list of what exactly needs to be done and when.
  • This blog post also made me realize that I am very type A and like things to be organized in certain ways. That being said, I think it will be important for me to keep that in mind when designing my project and educational resource website.

Bad Writing

Last week in class we talked about bad writing and I was immediately intrigued. We did a short writing exercise where we attempted some bad writing. We used inspiration from our two writing communities. As I mentioned in my last blog post, two writing communities I have been a part of are writing essays for medical school applications and writing scientific works for my psychology research. In class, I wrote a short essay about my psychology research project–however, instead of writing it like a research paper, I wrote it in my medical school application voice. It had a very different vibe. I told a story about my research, but it still had a hint of “bragging” about this experience.

I continued to think about this writing exercise after class and decided to try it again at home. I find the whole medical school application process to be extremely tedious and somewhat absurd actually. I can imagine thousands of other applications writing similar monotonous essays that boast about themselves and their experiences. So I decided to take my medical school personal statement (an open-ended required piece that asks us to explain why we want to go into medicine) and repurpose it into a short poem.

Here is a copy of the original essay: Personal Statement

And here is the new and improved personal statement:

 

It’s Been a Minute

Hi Capstone peeps! My name is Meghan Brown and I’m very excited for this class and to get to know you all as we finish this wonderful minor. It has definitely been a minute since I wrote my last blog post during the gateway course in Fall 2014, but I will give it my best shot.

Since then, I have been a part of several different writing communities–most being academic. From a ULWR primate social behavior course to a Sweetland course in new media writing, I have definitely had a wide variety of writing opportunities. However, the two most notable communities that I struggled with were more on the fringe of academia: research and medical school applications.

As a research assistant in the Department of Psychology, I had to produce a formal research paper and poster presentation for a symposium. While many students dislike the lack of flexibility that comes with academic writing, I have always found the structure and consistency to be somewhat reassuring. I was more than familiar with the MLA format and felt comfortable with the stereotypical essay format. However, I quickly learned that academic research papers are completely different from a proper English essay. I had a whole new world of conventions, formatting and organization to get used to. As a creature of habit, I found the APA format confusing and even quite annoying at times. But with the help of my research mentor, I was eventually able to produce a paper and poster that I was very proud of.

On a completely different note, this past summer I applied to several medical schools–which meant essays, essays and more essays.

 

This was definitely one of the most stressful and eye-opening experiences of my writing career. I like to consider myself a pretty modest person, so having to write numerous essays bragging about my skills, experiences and personality was a huge challenge for me. I struggled with finding a middle ground that portrayed me as confident, while still keeping that hint of humility. To be quite honest, I find the whole application process to be pretty stupid. Similarly to how Erin felt like she was writing to simply please her professors, I felt like I was trying to create an image of myself that admissions directors would approve of. Certain essay topics were uninteresting to me and I had a difficult time selling myself when I wasn’t passionate about the prompt. Regardless, I made it through and am blessed to have been accepted to multiple schools. I am excited to see where my future in medicine brings me and what new writing communities I might be introduced to while on this path.

 

 

 

 

That’s All Folks

ba-de-ba-dee-thats-all-folks-large

 

This semester really flew by. Although I am counting down the days until my last exam, I can say with all honestly that I will miss this class. I have had a lot of fun expanding my writing skills with T and my fellow Fall 2014 fall cohort members. This intro class really pushed me out of my writing comfort zone and I’m glad for that.

When I started putting together my eportfolio, I felt very proud of all the writing and projects I have completed throughout the semester. I am glad that this minor allows us to display our works in such a public setting because it’s nice to get some recognition for all our hard work. I spent plenty of time working on this eportfolio, because I wanted it to be a solid representation of not only my work, but also myself as a person. I spent hours editing, reorganizing and rewording each page to create a final page that I am very proud.

Before concluding, I’d like to send out a special thanks to T herself for inspiring me as a writer and as a student in general. She has been one of my favorite professors at the university so far and I feel very lucky to have been in her class. Additionally, I’d like to thank my fellow minor in writing students, who I now consider my friends. I have really enjoyed getting to know you all through your writing and I hope we will encounter each other in future classes.

 

And with that I leave you the link to my eportfolio: http://megsb2.wix.com/megsb1 

I hope you have as much exploring my eportfolio as I did creating it. THAT’S ALL FOLKS!

 

Six Ways to Make the Best of the MIW

When it comes to advice for future MIW cohorts, I have come up with six ways to make the best of this minor.

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Enjoy!

1. Be excited about writing. The Writing 220 course offers plenty of writing opportunities that you should be excited about. Although it definitely takes some hard work, this class is unique in the way that it allows you to work with writing projects with topics that are important to you. So make you sure you pick something that makes you excited to write!

2. Push yourself out of your comfort zone. Before taking this class, my only writing experience was in stereotypical English classes, which included writing essay after essay. In the Writing Minor, I am able to push myself to new ways of writing. For example, in Writing 220 I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and was able to produce a series of comic strips, as well as a Buzzfeed article. Although I had the most difficulty conforming to the conventions of these new medias, I found that when I challenged my writing skills, it was much more rewarding to produce a final project. And with that, I urge you to challenge your writing skills as well.

3. Take advantage of the available resources. Not many students have the luxury of taking a class full of other like-minded people. Take advantage of this. You are surrounded by writers who are willing to help you become a better writer and you should be eager to accept their constructive criticism. Additionally, being a MIW student also gives you special perks in the Sweetland Center for writing. As a MIW student, you are allowed extra 1-on-1 time with staff members to talk about your writing and current projects!

4. Ask questions. This piece of advice sort of works in tandem with the “Take Advantage of Available Resources” point. You will go through multiple peer workshops while taking courses in this minor and you shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions. Volunteer your writing to be workshopped as often as possible. This is the best way to better your writing. And with that, come to every workshop with a list of questions for your peers. You can ask questions about everything from grammar to content, it doesn’t really matter. Just make sure you ask questions.

5. Make Connections. This program is unique in that each cohort is relatively small compared to other minors. This gives you the ability to make fast friends with other students in the minor, as well as to connect with staff members. In a large university such as Michigan, making connections is very important. The MIW staff also provides plenty of opportunities, such as pizza parties and group gatherings, for you to connect with your peers. Enjoy these moments, make friends and connect with staff!

6. Write. That’s all.

Writing is everywhere.

It's the truth.
It’s the truth.

Writing is a part of everyday life. Whether you’re an author, teacher, doctor, architect or any other profession you can think of, I can almost 100% guarantee that you will spend some slice of your day writing. Different professions require different skill levels, mediums and formats of writing…but at the end of the day, writing is writing. And it’s everywhere.

I suppose that is my bold proclamation. Writing is everywhere. It may not seem like much, but to me it means a whole lot. I think writing is skill that everyone should have, regardless of the career path they may choose. Writing is a way of communication and that is key in the workplace. I remember back in high school when other students would question why they needed to learn about nit-picky grammar rules because “they would never have to use them in the real world.” Well, I disagree.

I think that being able to write is a very coveted skill in everyday life. Putting your words on paper, whether it be in print or text, is a way to communicate who you are as a person. It’s not only what you write that matters, but how you write can also give others a glimpse into who you are. When applying for jobs, writing skills matter. And the truth is, you will be judged on these skills. I can promise that a poorly written cover letter, resume, or even email will reflect badly on your image.

I truly think that writing is a skill that every student should acquire, because it is a skill that is used everyday. That is why I am so thankful to be a part of this minor, because I know that I will be perfecting a skill that is relevant in whatever profession I end up in.

 

Up North Loving

Northern Michigan Sunset
Northern Michigan Sunset

When it comes to Northern Michigan, the sights just never get old. There’s always a view to be seen and an adventure to be had. Where I grew up, in Traverse City, Michigan, there is water everywhere and almost every summer activity makes use of it somehow. Whether it be swimming, boating, or just going to the beach, northern Michigan is full of things to do in the summer. Yes, I do love all of those activities, but the one thing about northern Michigan that I never get tired of is it’s views. From my home, I have a lovely view of Bowers Harbor, a small harbor that eventually connects to the larger Lake Michigan. I feel incredibly blessed to be able to walk out my front door and see a sunset as amazing as the one in the panorama above. No sunset is ever the same and each one seems to be even more incredible than the last.

Aside from my home, there are tons of other inspiring views to be seen as well. About 45 minutes from my home, there are hiking trails all along the coast of lake Michigan that lead to jaw-dropping views. Some are tourist attractions, but some are more secretive, known only to native Northern Michiganders like myself. No matter how many times I hike the trails through the woods, anticipating the opening of the trees to reveal an incomparable view of lake Michigan, I will never ever get tired of those sights.

In the fall, the hikes become even more amazing. I’d like to consider myself well-traveled for a girl my age and I have yet to see another place with fall colors as beautiful as those in Traverse City. Driving down the Old Mission Peninsula, there is a scenic pullout at the top of the hill. Most people pulling over are tourists, visiting for the fall colors tour. But even as a local, I always have to pull aside at least once in the fall to take in the amazing colors of the North.

To most people, Traverse City is a tourist town. Locals, including myself, often get irritated with the traffic and idiocy of tourists who come to experience the beauty and adventures that Traverse City has to offer. But, I guess I can’t blame them because, honestly, the views just never get old.

 

 

 

 

Project 3 Already?

I can’t believe it’s already mid-November. It seems like this semester was just beginning and now there’s only about a month left. Which means this course is slowly creeping to an end…but not without a few more assignments. It’s finally time for project 3: remediation. I had a lot of fun with project 2, repurposing a past essay about my dad into several comic strips. Now, to remediate that comic into a new platform, I came up with a couple ideas. At first, I was thinking about creating a Buzzfeed quiz that would build off of my comic, Superdad. The quiz would have been titled, “Which Superdad character are you?” and would lead quiz-takers to a certain character from my comics based on their answers. But after talking with T about my options, I decided this was not the way I wanted to take this project. I didn’t think it would be very useful since my comic isn’t actually published anywhere and no buzzfeed users would actually take the quiz.

I decided I needed to go with a plan that was more broad and would be relatable to a larger audience. After looking at different kinds of buzzfeed posts, I decided to create a post that illustrated all the of things that dad’s who have only daughters have to go through (because that was the general idea in my comic strips). As of right now, I think the title of the article is going to be, “Things That Dads With Only Daughters Have To Go Through.” I know I will be able to take some of the ideas out of my comics, such as having to watch girly movies, and incorporate them into this post. I plan on creating a post with a format similar to this one: http://www.buzzfeed.com/lenovo/how-visiting-home-changes-during-the-college-years

Like to the buzzfeed article I linked to above, I want to find gifs that work with my writing and aid in the messages I’m trying to convey. Again, I think this project is going to be very fun and I’m very thankful to have a dad worth writing about.

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Thanks for the inspiration, dad!