So this is it…my last college assignment. By the end of this blog post I will be done with college forever. Honestly I have mixed feelings about it. Although I am certainly ready for classes to be over, I still have not been able to grasp the idea that I will never step foot in a classroom again, or take another test, or writer another paper. I have thoroughly enjoyed being a part of the Writing minor. My writing has drastically improved and I have loved getting to know all of the teachers and students in the minor. But before I get teary-eyed, I will share my Capstone E-Portfolio with you.
I am particularly proud of my E-Portfolio, and it feel as if I have been working towards its’ completion the entire semester. For my capstone project I chose to write a personal narrative about fashion and how it has played an integral part in my life. I hope my E-Portfolio gives you a better look into me as a person and as a writer. Feel free to explore!
This semester has been a great culmination of the minor in writing and I am so glad that I have been apart of this great program. Congratulations to the rest of the class of 2016!
I have a love/hate relationship with blog posts. Love because I enjoy the casualness of it all. I don’t have to use perfect grammar or impressive vocabulary—I can just put some words down on paper and that will normally suffice. Hate because I rarely know what to write about. Do I write about something that interests me, that I want to learn more about? Or do I write about something that other people will care about? Do I write about something deep and meaningful? Or something light and funny, in (failed) attempts to make people laugh? Mine have been a mix I think.
Love/hate relationship aside, It’s so crazy that this will be my last blog post. I waited to write it until today because I wanted it to be the last piece of schoolwork I completed at the University of Michigan. I have turned in all my papers and taken all my finals—the only thing left to do now is graduate.
I’m keeping this post short because if you have the time to read something long, I’d rather you look at my portfolio. Through a few quotes and brief explanations, it aims to convey who I am and what I care about. Here’s the link:
I also had a love/hate relationship with my portfolio. I really did love doing the research for it– learning more about capital punishment, about African American representatives, about Rebecca Solnit. I did not love using illustrator. If I had to do it all over again, I’d pick an interface that’s a little more user friendly. I also did not love how much I cared. I know it’s good to care, but it made me spend time on the littlest things: 45 minutes just to decide if I should center a title or put it to the side, an hour making sure all my spacing looked good. In the end thought, definitely more love than hate; I created a website I’m proud of.
It still hasn’t hit me that I’m about to graduate, mainly because I am thoroughly convinced that some mishap will occur and I’ll have to stay an extra semester. It’s such a cliché to say, but I can’t believe how fast these four years went by!
My project was kind of a question mark in my head for the longest time, but I think it finally came together. As someone who desperately needs a job, I’m always extremely curious about the jobs other people have. Why this job? Why this field? Why this community? Are you happy? Do you wish you chose a different path? In addition, as someone who hasn’t always been happy at U of M, I can’t help but wonder—why do the people around me stay?
This year, I took a student job in the Markley Dining Hall, and the same questions began running through my head of the Markley professional staff. I was particularly curious about their stories because many have them have worked in Markley for over twenty years. Why Markley? Why stay? What do you know about the University that the rest of us forget, because we’re only here for four years?
I ended up creating three parts to my project: first, I wrote a profile on one of the cooks, Maria, based on four different interviews I conducted. Second, I created a Fun Fact page with a Buzz-Feed-esque format, where I talked about some differences between Markley today and Markley ten to twenty years ago. Finally, I created a page of recipes for food Maria and her co-workers prepared while I conducted interviews.
The overall purpose of my project (and by extension, my portfolio) was to show U of M students that there are people all around them with life experiences and wisdom that they might find useful in times of feeling lost or unsure of themselves. Hopefully, students will leave with a greater sense of hope and a greater appreciation for the people who work tirelessly all around them to make their college experience positive.
This is probably the last blog post I will ever write. It’s a bittersweet feeling. Sweet in the sense that these posts are surprisingly fun and will make for a random happy memory somewhere down the road; bitter in the sense that the real world is finally taking its hold of me and no longer will I have the opportunity to write blog posts and have it count as work.
The Minor in Writing has meant a lot to me over the past few years. Not only have I grown immensely as a writer, but I have also made lasting friendships and have worked with some really great instructors. I’m not sure where I would be if I hadn’t pursued a Minor in Writing, but I’m glad that I did.
At the bottom of this screen, you will see an image of my ePortfolio home screen. By clicking on the image, you will be taken to my ePort.
First, please read over this description of my ePortfolio. It will help get you acquainted with the main ideas:
While pondering my writing evolution early in the semester, I realized that I tend to use writing as a way of understanding myself and the people around me. Because I’m a pre-med student, I am aware that I’ve used science to understand people throughout my lifetime. But until writing my evolutionary essay, I hadn’t realized that I used writing for the same exact purpose. Interestingly, this is nonetheless evident in my writing. All of my work included in my portfolio, including my capstone project, seeks to understand myself and the people around me. When designing my ePortfolio, I wanted to make this a subtle motif. Therefore, I have created a transparent background featuring images from throughout my lifetime. Each image correlates to an essay that I have written at some point in time (though not all are provided in my ePortfolio), reminding you that my writing is about myself and others. Furthermore, the boxed-in reflections on each page, be it a major category or specific essay (minus the “Writing Evolution” tab), emphasize this idea. It is my hope that this message is clear to an audience of friends, family, and faculty/students of the Minor in Writing program (this is why I do not have my portfolio segmented according to minor-specific sections—it is not limited to a Minor in Writing audience).
My capstone project is an article “published” in The Atlantic. In congruence with my other work, this essay also seeks to understand myself and others. At the beginning of the year, Shelley suggested we write about a topic that we could not stop thinking about. For me, that topic was rock climbing. Feeling that an essay solely about rock climbing would limit my audience, I decided to instead write about outdoor adventure in general. This article seeks to understand why some people (including myself) crave dangerous situations of outdoor adventure. Does this not defy logic? Why would anyone purposefully put themselves in a situation of danger? Feeling that my voice alone would not provide a comprehensive answer, I decided to incorporate scientific beliefs on the subject matter in addition to my own narrative. Therefore, this essay is an analytical/argumentative personal narrative (it doesn’t really fit into one single genre so I had to make my own). As I see it, my personal voice is just as important as the scientific voice in this article because I use my voice to remind the reader that there are unique, personal reasons why one would seek out adventurous activities; science alone cannot answer everything. This idea reflects the overall purpose of my writing.
To my Minor in Writing friends and faculty: It’s been real. Keep writing.
I had to consciously stop myself from switching the layout, editing the fine print, and making sure page transitions were just right (for the 100th time), but here we are. This blog post marks the end of my time in the Minor in Writing at The University of Michigan, and it is definitely a bittersweet feeling. When I first applied to the Minor I don’t think I fully grasped what I was getting myself into. Sure, I had been told in middle school and high school that I was a “good” writer, and I seemed to like writing enough. But I what I didn’t know was how much I could love writing, and how much my writing both reveals and helps me discover who I am.
My project focuses on the millennial perspective when it comes to turning points: moments in our lives that are significant, whether we recognize them at the time or not. My portfolio follows a similar theme, and as the image of my homepage below depicts, growing up is never easy. Just as I use my writing to discover things that are unknown–both about myself and the world around me–I used this portfolio to give my audience a glimpse into how I’ve attempted to figure things out.
So, (if you’re still reading this) feel free to click this image and venture to my Capstone Portfolio. I’ll try not to change anything too drastic in the meantime.
Way back in my Gateway Portfolio I mentioned that I love inspirational quotes and hope that some day my words will inspires others. Fast forward to now and I still feel this way, and I even included a place for my favorite quotes in my Capstone Portfolio. For a long time I never stopped to think about why I love quotes so much, but lately I’ve had some realizations that might lead me to an answer.
While doing research for a job interview I cam across this Huffington Post article that includes an interview with Cheryl Strayed, the author of Wild. In the interview Strayed explains why people love a good quote, and I think she puts it perfectly:
“We’re hungry for consolation, we’re hungry for inspiration, truth. And what a quotes does is it delivers in a very concise, powerful form; that little jolt of that thing you needed to hear, that thing you forgot, the thing you knew, the thing you didn’t quite understand that’s now been articulated.”
To take this one step further, what I’ve found myself doing lately is turning to other people’s words when I cannot come up with my own. This semester, when I have struggled finishing that last paragraph of an essay or even just coming up with the perfect the first sentence, I have turned to Thought Catalogfor inspiration. But not inspiration for the actual content of my work, just the type of inspiration that you feel from reading a really amazing or touching piece of writing. So, sometimes it helps to take a step back and let other people’s words inspire your own. I strongly recommend it!
No, not that Michael Jackson rockumentary from 2009, silly. This is my final blog post on the Minor in Writing Blog. And I think short and sweet is the name of the game for this one.
The Minor in Writing has been good to me, and I say lots of nice things about it in my Capstone portfolio, which I’ll link to at the end of this post. (Patience, friend. Patience.) Presently, that Dr. Dre song “The Next Episode” (featuring Snoop Dogg) is playing on my iTunes, and I think that’s pretty neat. That is all I have to say about that; we don’t have time for clichés.
I think my portfolio — as well as this post — is decently effective in showcasing my personality, and that’s all we can really hope our writing will accomplish, am I right? Maybe. It’s kind of doubtful. But that is besides the point.
I love playing with language — ask anyone who texts me on the regular — and that message is written all over my portfolio (not literally). It was both time-consuming and rather rewarding to put together this final portfolio and, even more so, my Capstone project. And seriously, we’re just wasting time here right now.
Don’t do it, kids. It’s like drugs. You’ll try it once, and things will still turn out okay. You’ll feel that high — or rather, that deadline coming crashing down upon you and the anxiety and urgency it creates — and you’ll let out a loud sigh of relief when you submit the assignment with seven minutes to spare.
But it won’t stop there. No, procrastination is like drugs because it’s a slippery slope. You’ll get away with procrastinating on a short reflection paper here and a three-page plot analysis there, but then you’ll get a big head and think you can wait until the last minute to start working on your end-of-semester project. And it will not go well. You’ll be up all night, drinking Monster or thirty cups of coffee or taking Five Hour Energy (or possibly Six Hour Power).
The blank page will mock you. You’ll hang your head in frustration. Your tears will wash over your laptop, causing it to malfunction or blow a circuit or explode or something — whatever laptops do when they get wet. And you’ll wish you hadn’t been ridiculous, that you’d started your not-so-little project at a reasonable juncture. No one will have pity on you, because this is all your fault.
Believe me, I speak from experience. There’s a reason this blog post is going up at 3:45 AM on the last Monday of the semester. Don’t for one second think I haven’t been glancing at the study guide on the coffee table in front of me either. That exam is in less than eight hours and I haven’t studied a thing.
They always tell you that when you write, you are inevitably learning–about the specific topic you are exploring, about the world around you, or maybe even about yourself. Well, I’m not quite sure who “they” are, but I’ve recently realized that they are 100% correct. I can’t say that this moment of clarity came while I was physically working on a paper or writing project, but I think it was always in the back of my mind. If I have learned one thing this semester, during which I took both the Writing Capstone course and English 325: Art of the Essay, I can confidently say it is that I do my best writing when I’m in the mood to do it.
This might sound extremely obvious, or maybe even a little silly, but I can’t help but feel relieved to have discovered this about myself. My essays for English 325 were all works of creative nonfiction, aka pieces of writing about my own personal experiences, thoughts, and opinions. You can’t sit down and bust out an eight-page essay about your childhood–at least, I can’t. When it comes to writing about myself, I need to be inspired, excited, passionate, or (ideally) all of the above. In addition to this, the writing I did for the Capstone was also often very reflective, therefore hard to force out the night before an assignment was due. I think there are a couple of reasons for this type of mentality when it comes to my writing:
I actually care about these pieces of writing, most likely because they are not about arbitrary topics.
I want my writing to be organic and not feel or sound forced.
I’m a second-semester senior and thus a little lazy when it comes to school work.
I threw that third reason in for fun–but I can’t say it isn’t at least a little bit true. Although my need to feel inspired in order to write can often prevent me from working efficiently, I am appreciative for this mindset. It pushes me to produce the best possible writing that I can, and to me there is truly nothing better than creating a piece of writing that is meaningful to me.
Hello friends. I am a big proponent of switching things up—
Hold up. Wait a minute. You’ve definitely said you don’t like change in the past. You said it was scary.
Well, all right. Okay. You got me. I like switching things up in some instances. And one of them, thank you very much, is when it comes to having different places to study and/or write. (So just slow your roll there for a second.)
In the past four school years, and in accordance with my divine wisdom of—
Okay, sorry. I cannot just stand by silently while you say stupid sh*t like that. Let’s be real, bruh.
Ahem. Okay. I’ll just say, in the last four years, I have studied in a variety of places — from the UgLi to the Dude to Shapiro; from Starbucks to Starbucks…to Starbucks? (yes, that’s right); from Potbelly to Sweetwaters to Espresso Royale; I’ve been around, kid. Sometimes you need a change of scenery to get the juices flowing.
My project for the Capstone course has very much been about how writing is made. Over the last two months I’ve compiled a novella weighing a little more than 20,000 words—
Oooh, big shot. Brag some more.
That is not bragging, buddy. It’s simply stating a fact. Haven’t you seen that Word Document? It’s Donald-Trump-YUGE!
Anyway, as I was saying: the guidelines I set up for writing the novella dictated that I go about the writing process in various ways. Sometimes I had to stand while writing, other times lay down. At one point, I holed up in the laundry room, locking myself away until a word goal for the day/night was met. And the latter part of the novella I’ve been writing on yellow legal pads, a la Maya Angelou style. (The whole thing is about emulating famous writers).
But that’s not what the story’s about.
Quite right. It’s about King Krush and his battle with not one, but two (!) villains who threaten him and his kingdom. And I’ve written it in a variety of locales, such as the Starbucks cafe in Barnes & Noble, where I find myself currently penning this.
You’re actually typing. I see you, liar.
Christ. They knew what I meant. Let me just answer the damn question before this guy drives us all mad. Where should you write? I’d advise trying a cornucopia of places—
Okay, wow. You didn’t pull out the Dictionary.com app for that one or anything…
*Sigh* Okay. Just remember to switch it up, folks. If you have a favorite spot but it’s becoming a little rusty, don’t be afraid to change it up. You never know where you’ll find inspiration.
Now, please excuse me as I strangle this little punk..