Mapping my Capstone Portfolio

I’m planning on categorizing my work into three over-arching navigation pages: non-fiction, fiction, and multimedia. This will help maintain a cohesive feel throughout my site – I won’t isolate my capstone project and developmental essay from my other work.

I decided to categorize in this way in order to make the site easily accessible for a handful of audiences. Evaluators are looking for specific pieces, but other site visitors might be confused if the navigation was directed by specific assignment titles.

Each piece will be prefaced with a short blurb – here is where I will speak directly to my evaluator, explaining the content, and how it showcases a specific skill that I have acquired. This is also the way I plan to incorporate reflective material (in addition to my developmental essay, which in itself is reflective).

I think that my site’s organization will accurately represent me as a writer because it displays three distinct genres of writing (as well as sub-genres). I am a very flexible writer, and I have experience with various mediums. I want this aspect of my writing to be conveyed.

What do you guys think?


a new perspective

I’ll be honest, it was nice to have somebody make a decision for me. Its not easy to make decisions. I find that weird because when picking between two things I usually want one of them more than the other. I guess I just find committing to that one thing to be the hard part.

Going forward, my favorite idea that Yona gave me was making a documentary. I wasn’t told what to make the documentary about, but making a documentary was something I never would have thought to do. In Writing 200, my project was taking an essay, transforming it into a play, and then finally a video. So I have some experience making films already. The idea of making a documentary sound like a lot of fun, but I realized that going through the editing process isn’t for me.
Another idea Yona suggested was writing a story about my most boring class, and making fun of it, but hopefully grasping something valuable/worthwhile from the experience. To me thats a great idea because I would find it funny. After much thought, I decided that not everybody would find it as funny as me and it would be better to go with another idea – something more people could relate to.
It was through these two ideas that I came up with my idea to write an essay about a collection of math problems that I find important and that may help others view the world differently – through a mathematical lense. I say these two ideas helped me because I want to use my experiences from even my most boring classes and document them in a way that benefits the reader.

It was great to have Yona because she provided a bunch of unbiased ideas. This assignment allowed Yona and I to exchange ideas in a way that normally wouldn’t occur. I say this because most people, when giving advice about a project, will ask somebody what they are doing for that project. For this assignment we were given information about eachother that was related to the project but not our direct thoughts. This way Yona could think of an idea based off my major, my interests, my previous writing experience, ect. and not necessarily an idea for the project that I already told her.

Making Another Writer’s Decisions

Wow. I can’t imagine I am the only one who is slightly overwhelmed by the freedom we have been given with the capstone project. The possibilities are literally endless. But, after talking extensively with Sarah, I feel like I have narrowed down my potential list of topics to a manageable number. Manageable being loosely defined, of course.

After explaining my background in research and general interests, both academically and personally, I feel like we landed on a few really great ideas. In addition to suggesting I write about one of my research projects, it seemed like Sarah really understood my interests and made an effort to integrate two or more of them into a single project. For example, one topic that I would consider perusing is the development of a “mock” grant to conduct research on the topic that interests me, drug addiction. She also suggested that I create a blog detailing my experience I had during my study abroad program. Although this is an interesting idea, I think the proposed grant project applies to my future endeavors in writing. I think experience in research and my interest in the topic of addiction led Sarah to the idea of a project that combines two of my greatest interests.

Based on this experience, I think that I have learned a new way to solicit advice from my peers. Instead of simply asking of suggestions, talking about our interests and type of writing we enjoy, I feel as though we were able to come up with genuine ideas for one another. After talking to Sarah, I think if I do not decide to work with the grant proposal idea, I am definitely going to try and incorporate more than one of my interests into my final project.

Top Ten Reading List #topten

I’m a reader. I’m more of a reader than a writer. So to whittle this list down to ten of my favorite, most influential books was next to impossible. I cheated a little bit and made some of my rankings about a series, not just one book. Obviously Harry needed to go first (anyone who has heard me talk in class or read my portfolio would be shocked if I said anything else!) but the rest are a mix of books from past and present that I am deeply indebted to. The plots, the characters, the messages–all of these books have impacted me in one way or another and I’m excited to share mine with you as well as to read your lists!!

1. Harry Potter series: J.K. Rowling

2. Enders Game and Enders Shadow: Orson Scott Card

3. The Giver: Lois Lowry

4. Number The Stars: Lois Lowry

5. Game of Thrones series: George R.R. Martin

6. A Lesson Before Dying: Ernest J. Gaines

7. Life of Pi: Yann Martel

8. Sherlock Holmes: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

9. To Kill a Mockingbird: Harper Lee

10. Kenny and The Little Kickers: Claduio Marzollo


I’m most excited about my final project. I’m excited to add to my oral history website and see the progress of how I’m committed to continue adding to the website. I’m excited to see the project finished and displayed for people to see. I hope people appreciate the work put in as well as the meaning behind my project because it really means a lot to me. However, I’m still struggling with the theme of my portfolio as well as the writers evolution essay, but I’m not going to worry about it to much because I know it will come as I continue to put everything together.


Technology . . .

“I just don’t want my capstone podcast project to sound homemade,” I say, sitting in one of the fancy media rooms at the Duderstadt and talking with a peer media consultant about “amplifying” and “wav files.”

“What do you mean?”

“Like on a scale of bagels covered with cheese and ragu to a pizza lovely crafted by Italian immigrants- I want it to be Digourno. It can be different than professional but I still want it to be good.”

He laughs.

“No matter what you’re going to have to teach yourself some about audio recording- levels etc. And vocal performance too probably”

That’s the moment I realize that I may have bitten off more of this pizza than I can chew. In the Writing Minor, we like to talk about how we write, why we write, what we right. Yet with this podcast, I’m having to contend with technology and with performance. In fact, how I write it may be affected by these programs and how they work.

I am not a Luddite. I have been having a passionate love affair with Photoshop for the past three years, designing covers and booklets and posters. However, relearning a complex program, learning enough so I can make it sound professional, is that too high a goal?

I just want to do my ideas justice. I want to do any listeners justice. I don’t want them to be distracted from my content because of a voice crackle.

I also want to be realistic about my abilities. I want to be realistic about the time I have left as my senior comes to a close with a bang of work and a whimper from me. I also don’t want to engage the obsessive perfectionist qualities of my personality. The part of me that will tweak-tweak-tweak at Photoshop.

I want to do the best I can with my time and abilities, but will that be enough?

This American Life by Ira Glass has an episode called “Fiasco!” where he sayings that when everyone reaches just beyond their grasp that’s when greatness can occur.

I’ll settle for Digourno pizza.

Who am I and how does that relate to my capstone? #rayray

Who am I?

  1. I am the kind of person who, after reading a book, will start to think like the 3rd person narrator of my own life and of the things happening around me.
  2. I too-often find myself thinking about what should I do later rather than what am I doing now.
  3. I am someone who will cry if someone else is upset.
  4. (In that same vein) I am sensitive, oftentimes to a fault.
  5. I am someone who is always looking for something to look forward to.
  6. I am a lay-on-the-beach vacation person, though sometimes I am an adventure vacation person or a city vacation person. Basically, I love vacations.
  7. I am a competitive person, but most people wouldn’t know that.

What resources am I using for my project?

(note to readers: I am doing my project as an integrated approach to the Holocaust through the lens of my grandparents’ stories (who are survivors) and how the media/pop culture has portrayed it since the 1950s…)

  1. Comic representations of Hitler from US and Britain during/post WWII
  2. The Stranger (Orson Wells, 1946)
  3. The Diary of Anne Frank
  4. “Eli The Fanatic” (1959)
  5. “The Jewbird” (Malamud, 1963)
  6. Marathon Men (1976)
  7. Saul Bellow’s work (1972)
  8. Sophie’s Choice
  9. Philip Roth (Ghost Writer, 1979)
  10. Night (1982)
  11. Schindler’s List (1990s…)
  12. Inglourious Basterds (2009)
  13. Defiance (2009)
  14. My grandparents’ own stories (as recorded by the Video History Archive at USC)


…help me make sense of this?



When I look over at the work I have completed so far for the Minor in Writing Gateway course, every assignment revolved around my parents in some way or another. The first assignment I wrote which discussed my passion for writing, described how my parents heavily influenced both my desire to write as well as the style that I write in. The second and third assignments were both homages to my father’s hometown, one written document and another digital project. If someone who did not know me were to look over all the assignments I had done, they would see that I greatly love and respect my family and maybe even miss them slightly because every assignment I produce has to do with them. And this is really just the oddest concept to me, because a lot of what I say about my family in friendly conversation is anything but admirable. I usually am complaining to my friends about how my family is not supportive of me and how they often have very little patience or time for me. I mean the entire reason why I moved from Los Angeles to Michigan for university was because I wanted to get away from my family because they were driving me crazy back home. I wanted to develop a life independent of them and formulate an opinion of myself and the world that is separate from their criticisms. Now that I am in Michigan, my family continues to force their negative and impatient opinions on me whenever we have the opportunity to talk on the phone. So it is weird to think that all of my assignments have revolved around them and in a way been a representation of how much I admire them even through the difficult and challenging relationship that we hold.

the end

My high school English teacher told me that there are never any finished writing, only deadlines. Looking back through my old essays from freshman year, I thought that I would cringe about the naivety of what I had written–and I did. But more surprisingly, in creating the portfolio, I found connected pieces of myself through the years of college writing. The first three lines of my Directed-Self Placement essay could have been taken from the opening paragraphs of my honors thesis. I wrote about the importance of family and friends to a flourishing life as a freshman and as I senior, I expanded on that idea in a honors thesis. But it wasn’t an intentional choice—the itch to keep writing about a topic wasn’t satisfied.

It was also amazing to see how my tone hasn’t fundamentally changed. There is the same eager passion to raise a point or ask a question. The only difference now is that I learned that I often cannot makes big claims as I’d like. Phrases like, “fundamental truth” have tapered into “compelling theory”.

I thought looking back at my old writing would be embarrassing. I thought would have to hide in my room for hours at the shame of all the things I once sounded smart. I was really skeptical that going back through old writing and buffing the rough edges was worthwhile. I was surprised by the things I learned. I wish that I had trusted the process a bit more, instead of kicking and screaming.

In the past few days, I’ve finished my thesis, project and portfolio and completed my final class of undergrad. It have come to many “ends”, and for the next little bit of my life, the most substantial writing projects I will have will be cover letters (boo). I have a hope that my English teacher was right, that your writing is never really finished. And perhaps that’s why I’ve found such delight in looking back at my old essays and stories—it gives me hope that I can continue to grow as a writer.

So maybe this isn’t really The End, but rather just a place along the way.