DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.

Reflective Essay


            Over the course of this semester, I came to a realization about my writing. I realized that if I do not think I have a strong argument, then writing a paper will prove more difficult than if I have a developed argument and supported claims. My film review, and my grant proposal will show this. Conversely, if I am genuinely interested in the topic, I find it easier to write an essay. My Cornerstone individual report, my research paper, and my reflection about the recent election all were easier to write because I had developed a solid argument for the three pieces. Ultimately, I found that if I deemed a topic worthy of writing about and an argument worthy of conveying to an audience, writing about that topic was easier than if I had an argument I thought to be insignificant.

            For our first project, we had to a write a film review on a movie of our choice. I chose to watch and write about “No Country for Old Men.” After watching the movie, I thought that it would be a piece of cake to write a film review about this movie, considering how much I enjoyed it; I was wrong. I could not come up with a strong argument about the deeper meaning of the plot. As a result, I focused mostly on plot synopsis, and added some weak interpretations of the characters amongst the plot summary.  When I was writing the review, I realized the film was either incredibly metaphorical and I was too simple-minded to see the underlying message, or the film was too simple and had little substance. Since I could not find the message from the movie, and I could not establish a claim to persuade the reader. The review was difficult to write. As I wrote the review, I thought that simply regurgitating the plot onto paper was unimportant, and would have little substance compared to a review that dove deeper into the context of the film; this state-of-mind made me think my review would be deemed “unworthy,” and lose its place amongst the ongoing conversation on this film, and through film reviews in general.

            The most difficult essay of this course was the grant proposal. The statement of purpose was not as hard as the personal statement because I was able to select an interesting research topic, but I found difficulty when I began writing the personal statement. Leading up to writing the personal statement, we had talked about how we have already written a paper similar to the personal statement: our college essays. We had to sell ourselves and show that we stand out amongst the competition. After reading all the sample essays, I was a little discouraged and thought that my life was not nearly as interesting as the people writing the essays we read. In my reflection I wrote after we submitted our final draft of the grant proposal, I explained “if I were to write another grant proposal, I hope I would be able to find a more important experience in my life, and one that is easier to write about. I felt that the one I chose was shallow and did not have the same attractive qualities as some of the examples we read in class.” As mentioned in my analysis of my film review, if the context and argument of my paper is insignificant, what will place it above the rest? What is keeping it from falling into the background of the conversation, where war-ridden lives and stories of extreme hardship reign supreme amongst the personal statements? In my opinion, we need stories that their own writers think to be small and insignificant. Not everyone is a refugee fleeing their country from the Arab Spring uprisings, nor does everyone have the opportunity to go to a third-world country and rebuild the infrastructure. Without some “average” stories, there is nothing to compare and contrast.

            For my personal statement, I chose to write about a program I participated in my senior year of high school because I could not think of anything interesting in my life that would have put me in front of the crowd, and I think my essay, as a whole, suffered as a result. The following excerpt is my introduction to my personal statement, and an example of how weak my argument was: “My senior year of high school was my most challenging, yet most beneficial, of my life. I faced many responsibilities and a large workload, and different leadership roles, but this experience allowed me to grow as an academic and also as a person. As a senior, I had the opportunity to participate in the accelerated, project-based learning New Visions STEM program at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). This program challenged me to take charge as a leader in the class, and take control of my studies.”  The program is hard to explain in a short one-page essay where you must also discuss the experience’s effect on you. For the reader, this may be difficult to relate to if they cannot understand the purpose.

            On the other hand, my two easiest essays to write were the research paper, and from my Cornerstone of Engineering class, the individual final report. The research paper started off slow, but once I found interesting information on my topic, the sentences started to flow. My first draft is mostly background information and I did not include any solid claims because I did not have any at that point. The dork short power point helped me to group my thoughts and take a step back in order to find what I was trying to argue. After the dork short, I was able to write the rest of my paper with ease.

            Coincidentally another research paper, my individual final report was one of the easier essays I wrote this semester. For the project, my group researched haptic-involved, minimally-invasive, robotic assisted surgery. For the final report, we had to individually write about our research; prior to this, the project was a group-written paper. In senior year of high school, I came across this topic and I was immediately intrigued. I was not going to let up the opportunity to research it further, so my group decided to research this topic. When researching, I found it very easy to read the scholarly articles and journals, regardless of all the technical jargon. Writing the paper was even easier. I could have gone on for several pages about the technology but the structure of the report prohibited me from doing so.

            After the recent election, a lot of people were completely bewildered with the outcome. I do not think anyone expected what happened. I am not a large proponent of either former candidate but I could tell right from wrong so I voted for the candidate who eventually and unfortunately lost. After election night, I had a lot of thoughts flying around my head. When professor Kim asked us to reflect on the outcome of the election, I felt relieved because maybe I could try to put those thoughts to tangible sentences. I have never actually tried reflecting on current events, or anything really, through writing. When I started writing about the election, I kind of blanked out and when I came out of my trance, I had about a page’s worth of words, however coherent, in front of me. After rereading them, they seemed to be coherent enough. The emotions I felt after election night were mixed, to say the least, and it was easy to allow my fingers to go at the keyboard of my laptop until I felt that all I needed to say was said.

            After this realization, I am able to decide what is worthy of writing about. Instead of seeing some of my writings as pointless or unimportant. If all the arguments in an ongoing conversation were spectacular stories, they would all blur together, and ironically, perhaps become the new normal. Without stories of ranging abnormality, the stories would sound alike. Knowing this, I look forward to future writing courses, and writing in general; I will use this newfound knowledge in order to better justify and support my arguments amongst any conversation and in any genre of writing.

DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.