In the space by your name below, please describe in the left column the three pieces you chose (and/or upload and insert them directly!); then, in the right column, answer these questions: What made these pieces important to you? what kind of response did you receive to these pieces during/after writing them? how/why did the responses contribute to the importance of these pieces to you?

Keep in mind

Only one person at a time can edit this page, so the best strategy is to first write your answers in a word-processing program, then copy and paste your work onto the wiki. If, for some reason, you're having trouble, just use the discussion forum at the top of the page to type or paste in your answers.
Melissa | Amanda | Stacy | Katie D. | Stephanie | Lyndsey | Jennifer | Jacklyn | Katie H. | Heather | Starr | Laura | Megan | Julie |
Sarah M. | Emily | Hannah | Heather | Caroline | Katie P. | Sarah R. | Ashley | Erica | Karly | Mike | Liz | Martha|

Describe or insert the 3 pieces you chose
(or you may wish to link to your personal page)
Explain why each was important to you
Melissa Benoit
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1. A poem I wrote in 5th grade.
2. My final WRA paper freshman year of college.

3. My ENG 302 paper and interview on second language acquisition.

1. The first thing I chose was a poem I wrote in 5th grade. It was called “Summer Time” and it was about how great it was to be out of school. It got published in a young writer’s poetry book, with other poems from students around the country. I was so excited about writing something that was good enough to get published. It’s one of the first things I really remember writing. I still have the book that published my poem. I remember taking that book with me to my grandparent’s house and showing my aunt’s and uncle’s I was in there. It was a great experience and really made me feel confident in my writing.

2.This paper was important to me because it was the first time I really put my heart into a paper. It wasn’t just a paper where you read a novel and then write about it. I had to use quotes from everything we read that semester, as well as outside sources. It was the first time I was required to argue my point for more than “5-7” pages. It wasn’t a research paper, but it taught me how to use my sources to prove my point. I worked on it for two weeks, unusually since I’m such a procrastinator. I wrote an outline, thought about all my points, went to office hours and re-wrote the paper a dozen times. It ended up being twelve pages. My first college English class was done and I felt so proud of that paper when I finally turned it in. I decided I liked doing that paper because it didn’t feel like “homework.” After that semester I realized that I enjoyed English and wanted to seriously consider making it my major. Four years later, I’m getting ready to graduate with a degree in English.

3.The last thing I picked was a paper I had to write for Eng 302. We had to pick a topic about language acquisition in either elementary or secondary education. I chose secondary since that is what I plan to teach one day. I interviewed my aunt who is teaching middle school in New Delhi, India. She has taught English/ Social Studies all over the world. She taught in Michigan for the last few years before deciding to go somewhere new. When I was faced with this project, I figured she would be the best person to ask questions. She has worked in so many environments and I figured she had stories about ESL students. It was so informative and interesting to not only hear about her experiences because she’s my aunt, but because she’s a teacher. I learned so many useful techniques to use in my future classroom. I wrote my paper on all the helpful things I learned from her. It was a great experience for me to hear about what she has witnessed and been through. It was nice that I was able to talk to her casually and ask questions I might have been cautious to ask a stranger. The paper I turned in holds a lot of information and first-hand knowledge on teaching ESL students. It was the first assignment I did that really made me look at the challenges and situations that I’m going to face as an English teacher.
Amanda Carlisi
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1. Collection of poetry I wrote in High School for my creative writing class
2. Essay on why I want to be a teacher
3. Short story I wrote in 3rd grade
1. I had always loved to write, but was never a fan of poetry. I didn't enjoy reading or writing it, so when I heard that we had to write poetry in my creative writing class, I was not very happy. I resisted the assignment for a long time, but finally gave in and really tried to do a good job. Once I finished my poem, I realized that I had actually enjoyed writing it. This assignment helped me learn that poetry was a good, alternative way to express my emotions.
2. This piece of writing was important to me because it was about something I was passionate about. I had always wanted to be a teacher and this was my chance to show everyone why. This was the first time that I really sat down and thought about the why. My essay provided me with a lot of insight. I learned about myself and who I want to become.
3. I can still remember the title of my story: "The land of the glittery Y." I was so proud of this story. I thought it was the best thing that I had ever written. I loved being creative (and still do) so writing this story was a lot of fun for me. Another thing that added to the importance was the fact that our teacher had it bound. This made it so much more official. My teacher thought that my story was good, so he submitted it in a contest. I was so excited when I won a award for it. I still have a copy of the story bound at home :)
Stacy Coleman
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1. A research paper on lynchings in the United States during the Nadir
2. A creative writing peice for an English class
3. A personal statement for a scholarship
This research paper was very important to me because it was something I was very interested in and I learned alot of information about the topic. For the research paper I was able to read a lot of various scholarly books, and I even purchased a couple which added to my library. All in all I was able to establish my own research topic, and the 20 pages was very easy to write; in fact I could have written more
2. For my creative writing class we were to create a short peice of writing that was about ten pages. At the time my assignment was given my cousin has just passed away and writing was a way to release some of my emotions. Through this peice I also realized that I am a very good writer and have my established style when writing fiction. Since then I have continued adding to the peice that I started in that class, and am eventually wanting to get it published into a book.
3. When writing my personal statement for the college of education scholarships I had to reflect on why I wanted to teach and some of my future goals. Writing them down in essay form made it official to me and very surreal. Then once I got the scholarship I felt very accomplsihed.
Kathleen Davidson
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1. A poem I wrote about my friend Rob for my ENG 310A class.

2. A page I made for a memory scrapbook for my friend megan.

3. The first research paper I wrote in college.
1. This poem was very important to me because I wrote it right after my friend Rob passed away. It was a great way for me to put my emotions down on paper. It helped me realize exactly what I was feeling and how I felt about Rob.
2. This was also something I wrote after my friend passed away. I wrote this memory out a few months after Rob passed away. I know the writing isn't very professional but writing down a memory of Rob helped me realize that while he is gone he is still in my heart.
3. Finally this research paper that I wrote for my first writing class in college was very important to me because it was the first paper I ever wrote that I felt really proud of. I spent a lot of time researching a topic and writing out exactly what I thought about that topic. I also ended up gettin rewarded for all my hard work by getting at 4.0 on the paper.
Stephanie Davis
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1. TE 250 Cultural Autobiograpy:

  • This is the final draft of a paper I had to write for TE 250 about my identity including reflections on race, gender, class, education etc.

2. In my senior research skills class we were assigned a few personal essays in preparation for college entrance & scholarship essays etc. This particular paper was to talk about a time in our life that we struggled. I wrote about my older brother who at the time, and for years prior to that suffered with drug problems & mental health issues.

3. The local paper in my county (The Flint Journal) had a section called The Children's Corner each week. From what I remember we were given a topic and we would write or draw something in response to the topic. Students would submit and certain ones were chosen each week. I did this many times in my elementary years but the one I particularly remember was about Easter.
1. TE 250 Cultural Autobiograpy:
This paper is particularly important to me for the following reasons:
  • It was a paper that allowed me to be reflective about myself and my position in society and how I relate to that position.
  • The professor that I had was the same one from TE 150 and he would always push me to do my best work. It was always a challenge, but was ultimately one of the most rewarding classes I have taken.
  • This particular teacher also had us redo the original autobiography we submitted based on what we learned from the class.
  • This paper represents what I learned in that class, particularly about myself, which is truly rewarding.
  • This was especially important because this was within my first two years of college where I was readily attempting to 'find myself,' if you will. This paper helped with that pursuit.
2. This paper was one of the most important pieces of writing I completed in high school. It was not important for a grade, though I did well. It was therepeutic for me. My brother's struggles began when I was in early middle school and I really did not have any resolution or closure about it until writing this paper. I was young, so it was hard for me to wrap my head around the issues surrounding my brother and my parents were focusing on him because he needed a lot more guidance than I did at the time. However, as a result I was alone a lot and left to make sense of the situation on my own. This paper was the first time I really formulated my thoughts and realized the way I felt about my brother, about my parents and their response to my brother, and my own reactions. Furthermore, the teacher was one that I had in 10th grade as well. I felt comfortable enough with this teacher to open up and write something honest.
3. This was important to me because what kid does not want their stories or drawings printed in the paper. This really made me feel good that my writing was chosen for the paper and it encouraged me to contine writing. I wrote a lot as a child. I remember writing stories and at one point even a terrible screen-play. However, this accolade encouraged me to continue this habit (what a great habit it is!) Also, the story was about how Easter reminded me of family and how important they were to me. That sentiment still remains and it is nice to look back and see that from as early as I can remember family has been my top priority.
Lyndsey Ferguson
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1. A paper I wrote on a poem entitled "Leda and the Swan" in 12th grade.

2. A paper I wrote for an IAH class my sophomore year at MSU.

3. A paper I wrote for one of my English classes during my senior year of undergrad.
1. This paper had the most profound effect on my writing. This particular teacher inspired me to become a teacher because of his poor teaching abilities. I give him a lot of credit and I know that a lot of my fellow classmates do not, but I did learn a lot from him, but he made me hate English and that is definitely not what I intend to do in my classroom. He assigned a personal response paper on three different poems that he handed out in the class. I received "Leda and the Swan" and at once I began to interpret the poem in my own words. I felt good about the paper and was actually excited to turn it in (rare for this class). Needless to say, I received a very poor grade on this paper. My mechanics were alright. Granted, there's always room for improvement, but he graded me so poorly because I did not come up with the same interpretation as he did.
-Naturally, the response was very negative and he let me know that I had interpreted the poem wrong and therefore received a poor grade for the entire assignment.
-This response inspired me in numerous ways. Naturally, it inspired me to attack my mechanics more throughly, but it also inspired me to continue to write what I believed or interpreted from a piece of writing. I find it very unfair to grade someone poorly because they do not have the ability to accept other interpretations as possibilities as well. I have learned to speak my mind.

2. This paper was one of the first papers I wrote at MSU. I opted to take all of my required classes when I transfered and this was one of those classes. In this class we had very few papers to write, but there just happened to be one or two that were assigned over the course of the semester. This was the first paper I wrote for the class and I honestly don't even remember what it was on now. This paper was also important to me because it inspired me to keep going against the suggestions of everyone else. I pursued what I believed in and have kept doing so ever since.
-Once again this paper also had a negative reception. I also received a poor grade due to the fact that the reader/TA did not like what I was saying. He graded every paper very critically and marked everything he found wrong with it. He made me so mad and had very little ground to grade to harshly. He did make a few good points in the paper, but otherwise graded me poorly again due to the fact that he did not agree with what I was saying.
-Once again, this paper inspired me to keep doing what I was doing. There are few papers that invoke such emotion from me, but this was definitely one of those papers and it has inspired me to keep writing against what is expected (within certain circumstances) and write more for me than for the professor.

3. Lastly, this paper was a paper I wrote for a senior seminar class. This class was wonderful. It was taught by a very intelligent British woman who loved literature and made it very apparent in class. She pushed us every time we discussed a topic in class and pushed us even further in our writing. This was the first positive yet critical paper I had ever received back from a professor. She liked what I wrote, but constantly challenged me to ask more questions and to strive to reach just a little further in my thinking and developing of papers. My writing improved a lot over the course of this semester.
-Overall, I think the response to this writing was positive. My professor marked what was wrong and needed to be fixed (mechanically), but never marked what I believed to be wrong. She would just pose questions that would get me thinking even further about my writing and I think those questions were the most beneficial for me.
-If I hadn't had this professor, I would have never been able to reach the standard of writing that I have now. Granted, there is always room for improvement, but I must admit that she has instilled a lot of useful questions in me that I constantly ask whenever I write essays and/or papers now. She inspired me to strive a little bit more each time I wrote a paper and I always felt that I deserved the grade which I received after each written work was returned.
Jennifer Harkness
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1- A short story for my Women Authors class
2- A Mother's Day poem
3- A series of journal-style posts
1- I found this piece of writing particularly important because it gave me a chance to cope with a very difficult situation in my best friend’s life. I based the protagonist on her, and by writing from the first person perspective, it helped me get a better idea about how she was probably feeling. She helped me form ideas for the paper, and with this knowledge, I was able to shape the person around her and her actual feelings. I put a lot of time and effort into this paper, but it was such a big part of my life, that writing it was very therapeutic. After I turned in the paper, I had such a sense of relief. When I got the paper back, my teacher asked to keep a copy as an example of writing what you know and making it relatable to a larger audience. Writing the story gave me confidence in my writing ability, but more importantly, helped me through a difficult part of my life.
2- As a component of my Mother’s Day gift to my mom, I wrote her a poem that was paired with a picture frame that had a picture of myself, my mom, and my sister in 1994 and again in 2004. I wrote the poem describing the relationship I have with my mom and how she has helped me grow and mature over the years. My goal was to write a heart-felt poem that would help my mom realize how much I appreciate her. When I gave both pieces to her, she started to cry and said it was her favorite gift. Now, the poem and the picture are on her dresser. She told me recently that she always reads the poem and loves the thought put into it. The fact that I set out to show my mom how much she means to me through prose and that I accomplished my goal makes me proud of the poem. I worked hard on the poem to achieve my goal, and the hard work was definitely worthwhile. It is so important to me because it affected my mom and continues to make her smile.

3- During my time in France, I wrote and posted stories about my adventures on Facebook. They started as ways to keep people up-to-date with what I was doing, but quickly became stories that focused on my host mom Babs. It was the first time I wrote something in a journal style. After I posted the first one, people started to say that they could “hear” me tell the story because I wrote it in a manner similar to the way I speak. I continued to write and people would be waiting for the latest Babs update. Again, the appreciation for what I was writing made me proud of my writing abilities. In particular, my sister said she would laugh out loud while reading the stories and they were the highlight of her day. I’m proud of the Babs Series because it was something I began to enjoy and started my desire to journal in order to have something to look back on and remember the great and interesting times I’ve had. These are important because not only will I remember my times in France but other people still make reference to my crazy host mom. Writing something memorable makes me want to continue to write and they function as important steps in my development as a writer.

*For 2 and 3, I realized that the pieces of writing was important to other people as well (either for sentimental or comedic value), and this adds to the importance each piece has to me.
Jacklyn Heckendorn
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1. ENG 125 at University of Michigan
Assignment: To write about the "Movie that Changed Your Life", a Personal Narrative
  • I wrote about the movie Bridget Jones's Diary and my search for inner-confidence

2. My speech as the maid of honor for my best friend friend's wedding

3. A poem I wrote in 11th grade as part of my semester-long writing portfolio project
1. This paper was such a challenge at first. The goal of the assignment was to write a paper that was memorable and true to our own voice (this was part of that writing workshop I mentioned in class). It was the very first paper I wrote for a college class...It means a lot to me because it is such a personal paper, because the rhetoric from the movie was cleverly interwoven into the text of the paper, and because it was the most honest paper I have ever written. I received incredible feedback from the professor and was greatly encouraged.

2. This speech was so difficult to write, but saying it was so effortless. This piece was utterly heartfelt. Being able to share my experiences with the bride and expressing my gratitude for our friendship allowed my writing to have meaning.

3. The poem I wrote in 11th grade was part of a huge writing project. It was the one piece I chose to draft and re-draft and draft again. It started as a narrative, turned into an essay, took the form of a short story, and eventually ended up as a poem. It took the form of an allegorical poem to express my frustration with cliques in high school, pressures of society, and systems of thinking. The longevity of the process of completing this poem, the feedback from my teacher, and being able to share it with my class made this an important piece of writing to me in high school.
Katherine Hedrick
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1. A poem titled "Spring" that I wrote when I was 8-years-old which was published in The Grand Rapids Press.

2. An assignment for my TE 302 class.

3. A research paper on the Gospel of Mary Magdalene written for my REL 315 class.

1. Even as a child, I really enjoyed writing and found that I had a knack for it. Every Saturday, there was a section in the Grand Rapids Press that featured works, writings, and drawings done by local students. I wrote a poem about springtime and sent it in to the paper, in hopes that it would be chosen for publication. I was absolutely ecstatic one Saturday morning to see my poem and name in print! To this day, the framed article sits on our mantle in the living room to remind me of my first published piece of literature.

2. I wrote this short paper for my ENG 302 class when we were discussing the subliminal messages that are sent to students from media, teachers, and interactions in their daily lives. I was having a really hard time understanding the topic because it involved rethinking and reevaluating things in a way I had never done before. We had an option for this assignment and didn't have to write about this topic, but I decided to think deeper about subliminal messages and apply this thinking to a lesson on Romeo and Juliet. This was one time that writing actually helped me understand my own thinking better and clear and organize my thoughts. Just getting them out on paper and being forced to put them together in a way that was logical and made sense, helped me to make sense of my own thoughts and form a legitimate argument. When I finished with the paper, I felt relieved in a sense, and almost surprised with what I already knew. The teacher, who knew I was struggling with the topic, was very impressed with my work and noted that she could see the progression of my thoughts and ideas. The praise I received from her, along with the satisfaction I felt from accomplishing a difficult task, made this an unforgettable piece of writing for me.

3. When I realized the final assignment for my Religion and Gender class was a 10-page research paper, I was a little overwhelmed. However, once I narrowed my topic into something I was truly interested in, I became a little more excited about the project. This piece of literature is especially important to me because it is the product of a lot of hard work and time. The research, diagramming, outlining, and writing all paid off when I received a 4.0 on the paper and my professor asked me to present my paper at a conference. While she praised my work highly, she also offered many suggestions for how I could improve the paper and my writing. It was both encouraging and helpful; the perfect blend of praise and criticism. Looking back at the paper I wrote over a year ago, I find myself once again impressed with my writing and with a newfound pride and confidence in my own writing.
Heather Homant
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1. My application essay for the Broad Summer Teaching Fellowship.
2. My final research paper for HST 484.
3. My Illustory book.
1. I was really proud of myself for being accepted as a teaching fellow last summer, especially after Dr. Gunnings told us that our acceptance was based mostly from the essays that we wrote, and the expression of ourselves that those essays embodied. I applied for the program on a whim, but I put a lot of effort and revision (which I rarely do) into my application.
2. I was so proud of my paper, which was about changing marriage practices in turn of the century Lagos, Nigeria. I spent so much time using the microfilm at the library to find source material. I also was very careful about my footnotes and citations, and I was very pleased with the almost 20-page result.
3. When I was in first grade someone bought me an Illustory kit for my birthday and I wrote an autobiography called "Marvelous Me" (though I'm pretty sure I spelled Marvelous wrong). I was so proud of my book when it came in the mail, and I showed it to everyone. I still have it at my mom's house!
Starrlene Light
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1. The journaling activity I did on the first day of my WRA class, freshman year so that our teacher could get a “sense of who we were.” I got a check, minus, minus (off the scale in how awful it was) and had to see her after class. I have also included within this piece an analysis of The Awakening, which go hand in hand. I got a 4.0 on this paper and she asked to xerox it and use as a reference. These were the two pieces included in the story I shared our first day of class.
2. My second piece was a paper for my Honors English class my sophomore year of college. I had to compare American Pastoral with any other element of history and literature of my choosing. I was forced to write about the Bible.
3. My final piece was for ENG 153. I had to create a Feminist short story and give an explanation. We had to choose a stereotypical story and take a feminist approach. I chose to revamp the classic, Cinderella.
1. This piece is important to me and always will be for several reasons. It was the first piece I ever wrote (formally and informally) at the college level. Because the first activity was not meant to be taken too seriously and didn’t seem to have a formal system of grading, I was shocked when I received a grade, off the charts in the negative end. I also felt a little insulted to the journaling grade I had receieved because I talked about my friends and family and according to my grade, those aspects of my life didn’t seem good enough. I was emotionally attached to this piece of writing. As an English major, and a freshman feeling as though I had no voice, I was devasted when the professor told me to reconsider the class I was in. I inevitably began to question my dreams of becoming an English teacher. I ended up sticking with the class and one of the papers we did later in the semester, my professor actually asked to keep and use as a reference. The feeling of success I had was unbelievable. In both of these instances, the grade meant everything to me, especially being fresh out of high school. The response the teacher had was directly connected with how I felt about each piece.
2. This piece was probably one of my most horrible experiences with a professor, ever. I conferenced with him over this paper because I was struggling in the class and, as always, wanted a good grade. He purposely led me toward the direction of comparing American Pastoral with an abundant amount of Biblical references. I believe in religion but know very little about it and the beliefs that my particular religion has. He made me feel stupid and insignificant every time I met with him because I didn’t know the story of the Bible exactly. I had to do so much more research and extra preparation for this paper than I ever had to before. Luckily, I received a fairly good grade, but his comments were diminishing and unnecessary. I was thankful though for being given the opportunity to learn about the Bible and the story of Adam and Eve because it has always been something that I felt guilty about not knowing.
3. My final piece is so important to me because it is the one piece that sticks out in my mind as the story/paper I literally got lost in. I was so excited for this assignment from the beginning and I worked on it relentlessly. Cinderella is my favorite Disney/princess story of all time and I changed it drastically. I made her a lesbian and completely changed the dyanmics of the fairy tale. I had so much fun with the assignment and my grade reflected it (which always helps). My professor was always asking me how it was coming, up until the due date. That helped make me feel like she was anticipating my story and was eager to read it. It is also important to me because I hope that one day, I can give a writing assignment to my students that they can lose themselves in and become totally passionate about it.
Laura Mamassian
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1) TE 302 paper
2) A letter to myself from my consumer economics class in
high school
3) MSU College of Ed. essay
1) TE 302 Paper- This paper was an assignment for my TE 302 class. We had a choice of writing a paper or doing something really creative. I decided to write about my teaching experiences and why I am who I am as a teacher. It really helped me be reflective on the whole class, why I am doing this with my life, and how I had may or may not have made a difference in some student's lives. I was actually really glad that I got a chance to be reflective about my teaching and teaching strategies and what I like and dislike about my experiences. It really helped me place myself and find out who I was as a teacher. It was especially beneficial to me because I normally do not write about my experiences, I usually just think about them and sometimes they leave my head, so this is nice to have so that if I ever get discouraged, I can always go back and reread why I am doing this and for what purpose.

2) This piece that I wrote was in my senior year of high school in my consumer economics class. My teacher made us write a letter to ourselves about what our expectations and hopes for our own life were for the future. We then sealed them in an envelope and she mailed them to us exactly one year later. By then, I was in my 2nd semester here at MSU and had totally forgotten about it by that point. It was so funny to read because most of the things that I wanted out of life then were very materialistic things. Now, they more or less have to do with values and family and friends. It was a rewarding piece of writing because again, it was reflective of things I wanted out of life and they had changed dramatically in only one year. I am grateful that my teacher made us do this assignment because it also made me look at myself differently and made me realize that I had changed throughout one year probably for the better and realized what actually was important.

3) The last piece of writing that was really important to me was my entrance essay into the College of Ed. It was really nerve wracking when writing it because that was the last factor on me getting in. The question had to do with diversity in the classroom and how I would be able to understand that diversity and what I would do as a teacher to aid every student regardless of ethnicity. I focused on my essay primarily around my own ethnic background of being Armenian and my two cousins that were adopted from Armenian three years ago. I also focused on how diversity is important to me because it is part of who I am as a person and will be when I am a teacher and how my cousins actually give me great insight on what it's like to be a second language learner in the classroom.
Megan McClain
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  • My speech for high school graduation
  • Abstract for ENG 445
  • journal entries
  • This piece was really important to me because my classmates chose me and two others to speak, which added pressure. It was one of the last times I would get to express to my classmates how much I treasured growing up with them and how hopeful I was for our futures. I graduated with 31 people and I knew everyone really well. I thought about this speech for a long time, reworked it over and over, and then even once I was done, graduated, living in my tiny dorm I kept thinking back to what I could have said better. The response to this was ok, my dad said I spoke to fast, but classmates asked for copies of it. I am not really sure how it went over but no one said it totally sucked. The response didn't really make it important to me, it was more that I had the opportunity to say what I wanted to a group of people that I loved that made it important to me. At the time, I thought it was pretty good, looking back, I can see that I should have said different things, things of more consequence.
  • This abstract was important to me because I had never really written one before and I had just received a bad grade in my other English class on my annotated bibliography. I was feeling pretty low about my writing and then when I received the graded abstract I was amazed. The comments on the bottom of the paper were very encouraging and the professor wrote that I did things well in the paper that I hadn't realized or intended. Her response was the only reason this piece was important to me. She made me realize that I did have worth as a writer.
  • I use to keep a journal from my teenage years and I just found it over christmas break when I was cleaning out my bedroom back at my parents' house. I read one entry and realized that I was learning to write at a young age. This book is important to me because it has my memories, feelings, ideas recorded forever and also because I can look back at it and see the growth and development of my writing. I haven't received response from this because (hopefully) no one but myself has ever read it. I guess I don't always need response to make my writing important to me.
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  • Children's Poem - I wrote a poem about 5 little chicks when I was in 5th grade that described their search for food.
  • HST 201 research paper - it was about eating disorders in the sport of horse racing (I will try to find it, i got a new computer and lost a ton of documents; I'm really hoping this isn't one of them!)
  • My blog entry on 1/15: when in life is it, that everything becomes so messy? relationships. jobs. school. morals. integrity. truths. is there a defining moment, like the flipping of a switch, where mess just appears? do we wake up one day with the epiphany that worrying about what to wear isnt 'that important' to worry about? we grow. we change. we get messy. it makes me wonder what life would be like if we were all so innocent. naive. lost maybe? i can't decide if i was more lost before i had a path. a plan. a focus. a future. or if i'm more lost now that i have one to find my way on. i often contemplate if i subconsciously choose to be messy. that i could stop worrying about my worries. calm down. relax. be free-spirited. maybe i could flip that switch back off and let life happen. take what comes. yet, i know i would then have a void. lead a less-fulfilling, meaningless life. so is my meaning in my mess? do i, in fact, love my mess and all that it brings? complication. confusion. questioning. searching. discovering. laughing. loving. maybe my mess is beautiful, in its own messy way. like a Picasso. or Van Gogh. but all my own. i think without my mess i wouldn't feel. or just be.
  • Children's Poem - This piece of writing was important to me because I had entered it into a local newspaper's writing contest and won. My family, teachers, and friends were very proud of me, and this piece of writing is still framed in the entrance way of my grandmother's house.
  • HST 201 paper - This paper was important to me because I was struggling in my friend English class and felt like all the writing I did and recieved praise for in high school was over-glorified. I had this professor the last semester for IAH 201, and had problems with my TA and his grading of my writing. She really helped me learn the difference between active and passive voice in this paper, which has changed the way I write research papers since this one. Plus, I recieved a 4.0 for the paper and she kept it for the example paper. I really felt like this paper was the turning point where I learned to write as a college student, rather than a high school student.
  • This was more or less and example of how all of my blog entries cause me to reflect and work through my confusions and frustrations with writing. It was just the most recent favorite post. One of my best friends read this and felt compelled to send me a message about how much she loves reading my writing!
Sarah Menger
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In no particular order...
  1. HST 488 Russian History in the 20th Century. This is a research paper that I spent all semester researching, writing, and revising on childhood under communist rule in Soviet Russia. It explores how raising children changed as the state became more involved in the familial lives of Russians with communal housing, education reform, and ideological changes in beliefs about raising children and marital practices.
  2. ENG 317 African American Literature. This is a critical essay which I wrote using Jan Mohammed's The Death-Bound Subject and Richard Wright's Black Boy. It discusses the use of Christianity as a form of "social death"(as defined by JanMohammed) in Jim Crow society.
  3. Natural (A series of Haiku) Written for ENG 329 Intro to Poetry.
  1. This paper was very challenging for me. Throughout the process of writing this, I learned a lot about writing in general. The style of writing that I would use for a historical research paper is quite different than the voice that I would use in an English analytical paper. I spent a lot of time researching and writing this paper and it really paid off. I received a 4.0 on the paper and learned a lot from the process itself.
  2. This was a difficult class for me. My professor was very demanding and I often felt intimidated by the "intellectuals" in my class. I had a hard time speaking in class but I worked really hard writing for the class. I feel like this paper was really thoughtful and I spent alot of time just thinking about the topic. I did well on the assignment and it felt good to be validated by a professor who was so critical in his judgment. More importantly, I felt that I wrote an intelligent, fleshed-out paper and am still proud of it.
  3. These haiku were written for the poetry class that I had an awful time in. This poem has a lot of sentimental value to me and even though my professor's response was pretty negative, deeming it "too cliche", I like it.
Emily Mullins
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1. ENG 153 Feminist Essay
2. ENG 210 Literary Analysis of As I Lay Dying: Love, Through Violence

3. ENG 153 Literary Analysis of The Bluest Eye: Shirley Temple and Society's Ideal of Beauty

1. This writing received a great deal of praise after it was turned in to the professor. It helps when you really want to write about something. I thought the idea of writing a story from a feminist persepective was easy to relate to and it was easy to develop a character, a plot, etc. in a short story mode. She wanted us to think about the ways our story could depict the course's themes, and she said I did so with ease. Her responses allowed me to see exactly the writer I could be and still hope to be. It was one of my favorite stories to write and I wish I still had kept it on file. My writing was powerful and in myopinion, very insightful. I took a deep look into the mind of a teenage girl we could all relate to on some level. She had dealt with rape, losing a boyfriend and her socia status, and still struggling to be strong in the face of everything. I thought she was inspiring and impeccably mature and wise beyond her years. She saw that being a better person was better than fitting in for the next two years.

2. This professor was truly amazing. He was brilliant and interesting and he shared his passion of literature and film with each of us. He was unbelievably integral in the completion of this piece of writing. He helped everystep of the way with research, constructive criticism, shaing of ideas, and genuine interest in helping his students to write the best paper they could possibly write. Not only did I relate to this book and its characters, but being so involved in the analyzing process made me feel intelligent, thoughtful, and most of all, like an English student. The transferance of thoughts and ideas to paper is one that is wildly daunting but also invigorating and a major self-esteem boost.

3. This is another analysis about a book I loved by an author I can't get enough of. toni Morrison is a brilliant writer and the characters and societies she created are ones to be looked at with a critical lens. Although my professor was less help with the writing process, I saw it as a challenge to do the best I could without any outside help. I had to look deeper into the text and to the social consciousness concerning race relations, historical context, placement of contrasting entities, beauty, passion, love, hate, and family. I didn't get too much help with the writing process, but she was always available for such discussions. The end responses contributed in constructive ways, but also it seemed to me, that perhaps she either didn't spend enough time reading my work, or I didn't spend enough time writing it.
Hannah Nagi
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1. MSU College of Ed. entrance essay
2. A preface to a currently developing novel
3. A letter to my Uncle Andy
1. The entrance essay to the College of Ed. was particularly important to me because I remember how nervous I was before the topic was given to me. I had no idea what I was going to write about or how. When I recieved the topic, overcoming obstacles, I knew exactly what I was going to write mom. For me my mother is the one person that I draw strength and inspiration from on a daily basis. She has overcome many obstacles in her life to get to where she is today and for that I will always be proud and thankful. Typing up that essay turned out to be an easier task for me because all I simply did was speak from the heart and let my fingers do the rest.
2. So I decided a few summers ago that I wanted to write in my spare time and find out where it will take me later. I just recently decided the kinds of books that I would be proud as an author to create...novels that impower women of all ages. I want women of my generation and the next and the next to feel powerful and worthy and decireable, etc. I think there is a lot of negative media that is responsible for the damage of young and older woman. There needs to be an end soon! Writing this preface made me feel important in the sense that if and when I do finish this I could be responsible for changing one persons view of their life. And that is something that is so amazing and special to me!
3. In 2001 my great-uncle Andy passed away. My family is very close and when this happen it crushed all of us. This was the first immediate or big death in our family. After, things were just never the same. I did not end up getting the right chance to say goodbye or to say certain things to him that I always wanted to say. I regreted it immensly and became very emotional and uneasy at the mention of that time. I ended up writing him a letter with all the things in it that I could not say and putting it away in my journal. I reread it from time to time to remember him and to imagine how good his life must be now wherever he is. In 2005, my freshman year of college, I dreamt about Andy. We were sitting on a bench and talking. I dont know where or what we talked about, but I do know that he was happy and so was I. The next time I was home for a visit my mother and aunt (his widower) were speaking about him over coffee. I ended up overhearing my mother talk about the same dream that she had about Andy! Just like me it was the same scenario, have no clue where you are or what you're doing, but you know that happiness is there, and always will be.
Heather Parr
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1. Sonnet I wrote in AP English in 12th grade
2. Paper I wrote for ENG 210
3. Research paper I wrote in 11th grade on the health benefits of meditation
1. This piece of writing was very inportant to me because it was the first time that I actually started to see myself as a writer. In high school, I wrote what I was told to write, but never really felt any sense of pride or ownership. However, I spent a lot of time on this sonnet because we had to share them with the class, and I didn't want to look like an idiot and have a 'bad' poem. After I read it out loud to the class, a bunch of people accused me a stealing it from a poetry book because "no one in 12th grade could write a poem that good." It made me feel good about what I had written and made me feel like I had accomplished something.
2. This paper was really important to me because it was the first time that I actually recognized myself being critical of a book and discussing what it meant to society. When I was in high school, the papers that I wrote about books just analyzed tone, themes, symbols, etc. In ENG 210 my freshman year, however, we were told to look at the book through a critical lens and discuss what the books implications on the world are. I was really proud of my paper because I wasn't sure if I was 'doing it right' or not. We did peer editing in class and my partner said that she was really impressed with my writing, and I ended up getting a 4.0 from the professor with comments like, 'very critical' and 'yes, I didn't even think of this before. please bring this up in class!'
3. At my high school, every 11th grader has to write a research paper. My teacher said that we could write about anything, as long as it related to something that we had studied in some way. This paper means a lot to me because my teacher gave us virtually no guidance when it came to writing a research paper, even though none of us had ever written one, using the excuse "in college the professors won't hold your hand." She would guide us to websites and tell us to ask our peers if we had any questions, because "that's how it was done in college." So basically, we all had to figure out how to write a research paper on our own, complete with citations, note cards, etc. I worked really hard on this paper, and I was really proud because I got an A on it, even though I had to pretty much figure it out on my own. The way my teacher did her research paper unit was painful, and in my future classroom I hope to make it less painful for students and actually get students excited about writing.
Caroline Pawelski
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1. A 15-page paper I wrote for my ENG310C midterm.
2. A 19-page paper I wrote for my HST 200 level seminar class.
3. My TE302 final paper.
1. The 15-page paper was important to me because it was the first time I was assigned to write such a lengthy and challenging paper. I was nervous to write the paper not only because of the number of pages, but also because I had only been receiving check and check minuses on this particular professor’s check mark system. I put a lot of thought and effort into this paper. I was very interested in the subject which made it easier for me to write about. I also wanted to prove to my professor that my work was worthy of check pluses and 4.0. When we finally received them back I had gotten a 4.0. I was one of 3 people in the whole class to get an A. I was so proud of myself, as well as happy that the professor saw that I was capable of good writing. Even though I knew I did a good job, he’s praise made the paper that much more important and meaningful to me. It is something that will always stick out in my mind. I worked extremely hard and my efforts were acknowledged.
2. The 19-page paper was also very daunting for me. It is such a lengthy assignment and on top of that it was a research paper. I chose to write my paper on the Holocaust. We all grew up learning about Anne Frank and the Holocaust and what a tragedy it was to our world, however this paper allowed me to really learn and study the topic. I got so much out of doing this paper. Even though I only received a 3.5 on it, it still sticks out to me as one of my best papers. I would have preferred a 4.0 for my work, but the number doesn’t need to define all the work I put into the paper and knowledge I gained.
3. My TE302 paper was very important to me because it allowed me to reflect on and think about why teaching is so important to me. We were assigned to discuss all the new teaching strategies we learned over the course of the semester and how we would implement them into our future teaching. I loved writing this paper because I really got to think about why I wanted to be a teacher and it solidified just how important teaching is to me. I received great feedback and a 4.0 on the paper. The responses I received made me even more proud of my work. I also realized that other people thought my ideas and views of teaching were great. The response and grade made the paper even more important to me, but even if I didn’t get a 4.0 it would still be one of my most important pieces I have ever written.
Katlyn Purcell
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1. TE 302 Final Project - Book Report Remix
2. ENG 106 paper - AIDS and postmodern theatre
3. Letter to my swim team two years ago after my first season of coaching
1. In TE 302, we were given the opportunity to create a final project using whatever mediums we saw fit. The theme of the project was "Who is this teacher that I am?" where we explained our beliefs about teaching, why we had them, and how it could effect our students later on. I created a book report remix where I used different books to explain my teaching philosophy. The book selection was everything from I Am America and So Can You to The Outsiders. My teacher liked my project and presentation so much that she asked to keep it as an example for her future classes.
2. This paper was written during my freshman year at MSU about "Angels in America", a play about many different social issues, one of which is AIDS. Previous to this paper, my professor would write on my other graded papers that my thoughts were unoriginal and that I needed to use more of the concepts we were exploring in class. This paper was when the light bulb went off and I finally started to get it. I talked about how postmodern theatre incorporates topics, such as AIDS, into many various forms, be it straight play, musical, or movie. I got a 4.0 on that paper and a huge boost in my confidence knowing that I could write about postmodernism coherently.
3. I swam during the summer every summer since I was six. I had been on the same team since eighth grade and when given the opportunity to come back for a last season after freshman year of college, I took it. The year after that, my club was looking for coaches, I applied, got the job and had a great time coaching. The traditions on the team and the people that surround it are unlike any other experience I have ever had. For the end of the season banquet, I wrote a letter to the families of the team explaining to them why I love being there so much and thanking them for making my first year coaching as special as it had been swimming. Last year, parents told me that they would find the letter during the school year and read it and remember how much fun they had at the club and couldn't wait to get back in the summer.
Sarah Rehim
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1.) A short story - the final assignment for an introductory level creative writing class at my community college - entitled "Venus DeMilo Finally Stretches." It centers on a girl from a conservative Italian family who attends a strict, all-female Catholic high school and finds herself on a short road trip with a guy for the purposes of a school assignment. Over the course of the trip - which culminates in the guy renting a hotel room for the two of them at the end of the trip - the girl must come to terms with the clash between her morals, her faith, her burgeoning sexuality, and her own world view. (The title reffers to the main characters self-association with the famous sculptue Venus DeMilo, who has no arms and therefore, is left without the ability to stretch.) I have a hard copy of the story, but nothing digital. It was written about 4-5 years ago.

2.) The final paper written for ENG310E, a film dialogue class, in which I discussed the use of dialogue in one of my favorite movies of all time, The Exorcist.

3.) The essay I wrote for a COE scholarship recently, in which I was asked to describe why I want to teach creative writing in the future.

1.) In short, I really loved this story. It was partially inspired by events that ocured in my own life, with many changes. I edited and edited and EDITED this piece, and was really proud of the fruits of my labor. My teacher had me start reading it on the final night of class, and I could barely get through it before I started to cry, and she finished the rest. After class, she told me I should seriously consider sending the story to literary publications - it was one of the best student-written pieces she'd ever come across. I was very proud, but the story meant a lot to me on a personal level, and so I never submitted it for publication anywhere. I think what made it special was the amount of heart I poured into it, the time I spent editing and editing (something I'd previously had a hard time with, editing myself) and the recognition by my teacher and classmates I received for it. Okay...and my grade. She gave me an "A+++++++ WOW! I'm speechles, Sarah." As an old-school obsessee over grades, that meant a lot.

2.) This thesis was really important to me because of the passion I was able to pour into it. I LOVE the film The Excorcist, and I actually had a really fun time writing this paper. Actually, my paper made me see more amazing qualities in the movie; I noticed more after I viewed it from a unique lens. I did a lot of research, and learned a lot. So I guess it comes down to the education I received through writing this paper. The professor was a kick-ass guy, too, and loved my idea of writing a paper on The Excorcist (we got to choose a film to research and write on) in a class where the majority were writing about Kate Hudson films. It was a great experience.

3.) This essay brought back a lot of memories for me, which you can see if you read it. I put a lot of reflection in it, and it was completely sincere. I kind of felt that in a way, my experiences as a student in that creative writing club came full-circle with me writing about them for the purposes of garnering a teach creative writing. I smiled while writing this.
Ashley Ross
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1. My Grandfather's Eulogy: I wrote this four years ago, one week before my grandfather passed away.
2. My entrance essay to Michigan State University: If it wasn't for this essay and my community service, I'd have never gotten into MSU.
3. HST 480 - Reading Notes: You ever get that feeling that you just have no idea what you're writing about?
1. One week before my grandfather passed away, I spent the day in the hospital saying goodbye to him. We knew the end or near, and I needed to say goodbye for my own sanity. As I drove home, I decided that it was necessary for me to write his eulogy and read it aloud at his funeral. We were very close, and my writing reflected the type of relationship we shared. I was confident, happy and surprised by what I had created. It flowed nicely, and was almost a joy for me to write. When things come that easily to me, I know that the work is something that I can take pride in.

2. In order to get accepted to MSU an entrance essay was required. I wasn't sure how I was supposed to represent myself with only 150 words, while describing how I overcame difficulties throughout my life. While I wrote, as I did with the eulogy, I found the words easy to come by. I didn't struggle when thinking of new things to talk about, and was able to avoid writers block altogether. It was a piece of writing that I will always be proud of and consider one of the best pieces I ever wrote. I swear--if it wasn't for that and my community service that I did in high school, I wouldn't have gotten accepted ;)

3. As with the writing that I'm proud of, there are many pieces of writing that I am ashamed of, and have never looked at again after handing in. That holds true for today, as is right now, January 19. I wrote up a reading review/guide for my History course. We were expected to read an entire book and in 2-3 pages summarize the reading. Once I finished the write-up, I reflected on what I just wrote and realized I learned nothing, and my writing reflected it. More sentences were fragments, and many didn't make any sense altogether. It just goes to prove, that when I'm interested in something and dedicated to it, it is reflected positively in my writing. The opposite holds true when I could care less.
Erica Saidoo
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1. Paper in 8th grade titled "Boys: ...And Their Annoying Ways"

2. Paper for my first college English course: A Descriptive Essay

3. Pretty much any essay for English 310E
1. Each paper was important for different reasons. For the "Boys" paper, that was one of the first times I was acknowledged for being creative with my writing. The paper was cute and funny and really allowed me to write about whatever topic I wanted to at the time. My teacher ended up reading this paper aloud to all of her classes (without divulging my name). It made my day. I was proud of the paper before, however, my teacher added to my confidence that it is okay to take risks with writing and choosing topics. I don't know if her reaction changed my feelings about the paper necessarily, but she definitely made it a more memorable experience for me.

2. My descriptive essay was a personal essay that I HAD to copy for everyone in my class and read aloud to them. CRAZY! It was the first time I went to a professor's office hours. I was nervous about doing this because I was the first to go and I wasn't sure how the dynamics were going to be in the class. Thankfully, everyone was really receptive and supportive about everyone's writing. THey offered suggestions on where to add information and where to leave some out. My teacher was helpful in the way he set up his classroom and allowed everyone to "re-do" and correct their papers as many times as they wanted. It was about the process, not necessarily the final grade.

3. I say any essay for ENG 310E because each and every essay I wrote made me more and more aware of how I view the world, other people, myself, my surroundings, etc. Each paper took a long time for me to even start writing because I was unsure of how to word what I wanted to say without offending, without coming off as tacky or insensitive. My class was all about African Americans in the media and the struggles they have faced throughout. My professor was African American, and even though he was approachable and completely friendly, I was completely intimidated about speaking and writing about any of it. However, after I turned in my first paper, he wrote at the end "very good, thoughtful writing". I was pumped. By the end of the class, I felt more comfortable with the topic and even began discussing race and ethnicity with all my friends and coworkers. I felt more confident about not offending people or coming off as insensitive. Writing about the "tough" topics helped me to overcome my hesitancy of such topics.
Karly Scites
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  • Eulogy
Elisabeth Ann Scites-Beste, our little B, our Binky. Beth was a daughter, sister, grand-daughter, wife, sister-in-law, daughter-in-law, a cousin, a niece, and a friend. She was a sister and a best friend to both Jill and me. She is what filled Jill and me up. Jill and I could never ask for a better relationship with a sister because Beth was our everything. We love her so much and Beth will live in our hearts forever. If Jill could talk she would have so many more things to say about Beth than I could ever think of saying. Jill and I loved her more than anyone could have and Beth always made sure to be the best she could to us. She was filled with love, compassion, and life. Beth was the most strong willed person; it didn’t matter what you told her, when she had her mind made up, she went for it. I always looked up to and always will. She was beautiful, bright, and she was our princess. Beth couldn’t enter a room without completely filling the room with laughter, love and warmness. The laughter cam with her personality. She didn’t always say the brightest things, but it was those air head remarks that made you laugh and love her. I always loved to make fun of the things she would say and the questions she would ask. She couldn’t even find her way home from 16 and Rochester. She got me once though, I asked her, “If you put bread in the oven will it get toasted?” She never let me live that down. Even though Beth couldn’t find her way home from anywhere because of a directional impairment, she didn’t have to ask for directions to God. She found her way through Jesus. Beth made it home. Beth showed me something and asked, “do you love it?” I said “I love it.” She said “no, say loves it.” When we get to Heaven and we ask Beth, “how do you like it?” She is going to look at us and say, “LOVES IT!”
  • Children’s short story
Another piece that I am proud of was my children’s short story. The story was about small blue creatures with three arms that live in a sunflower. All they ever do is work to make bowls out of crystals. However, one of the characters makes music with the crystals instead of the work he is supposed to be making. He runs away to the top of the sunflower. A humming bird comes and is sad because she can’t sing like her family. The two of them begin their travel together.
  • Speech The last piece of writing I am very attached to is a speech I wrote for graduation. I wrote the speech and was selected to give the graduation speech at commencements.
  • Eulogy --
The response I got from this piece was obviously a sad one, but also rewarding because everyone felt that it described my sister perfectly. In this piece it wasn’t the responses that contributed to the importance, but more of knowing it was the last thing I was ever going to be able to do for my sister.
  • Children's short story --
I wrote this piece more for my own entertainment, but I did turn it in to my creative writing teacher. I received a lot of positive feed back from family and friends. My teacher gave me positive and critical feedback. Knowing that she thought the piece was worth pursuing and editing made me work harder on fixing the piece up. I still have work to do on this piece and I plan on finishing the story one day with additional stories to build a series.
  • Speech -- I didn’t end up giving the speech though because of some disagreements and I chose not to walk at commencements. However, had that not happened I would have been really proud to give the speech I had written. I thought it was really cool that I was the one who was picked. I received positive feedback on the speech. I also made many changes to the speech. I think feedback, both negative and positive, is very important in becoming attached and proud of a piece of writing.
Elizabeth Tezak
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Design an Assessment: For TE 407, we were to design an assessment for a unit we had previously created. I created a unit around Latin American Literature and chose to develop a final assessment surrounding the major themes that I found relevant throughout the literature I chose. This piece of writing had to include in objectives, understandings, questions, standards, evidence, day-to-day activities, a breadth of final projects to choose from, as well as an in depth analysis of our choices.

ENG 351 Gender Paper: Chicano Literature is one of my interests and this class focused solely on it. This piece of writing is a literary critique on Sandra Cisneros’ short story, “Woman Hollering Creek” that focuses on the idealisms of gender roles that the media and popular culture create. Included with this piece of writing was a poster that I created and presented to the class. It was a collage of images and cutouts from magazines that perpetuate the stereotypes and idealisms that I talked about in my critique.
ENG 415 Visual Arts Paper: For this poetry class, our last assignment was to research a poet and an artist, find one piece of art from each, and connect them in an eight-page paper. I chose to research Lorna Dee Cervantes, one of my favorite Chicana poets and Diego Rivera, a Mexican artist known for his mural in Rockefeller center. This paper compares the oppression felt by both artists in their time, yet depicts the timelessness of the “war between races”.
Design an Assessment: This assignment was especially important to me because it was the first time I felt truly like a teacher. I spent an extensive amount of time on it, debating books and questioning why I chose what I did. Regardless of my grade, I felt very accomplished turning it in and proud that I created an entire unit that will some day be of use to me.
ENG 351 Gender Paper: This class was by far my favorite class at Michigan State. The content was extremely interesting and the professor was amazing. I read each book and thoroughly enjoyed all of them. I feel as though this paper is a great representation of my writing. It was very easy for me to write because I felt so connected to the content. My professor wrote great comments on my paper, which helped as well. The poster collage that I created was also very meaningful to me. The topic of body image is one that is important to me and I have felt the effects of personally. It was almost therapeutic to create the poster and get in front of the class to present it to my peers.
ENG 415 Visual Arts Paper: While this paper took a lot of time, effort, and research, and was very proud of the outcome. I feel as though I learned the most out of this paper and found a meaningful way to connect text with images. Once again it was interesting to me because of the connection with Chicano culture. This class was very difficult for me and to receive a good grade for all of my hard work was very rewarding.

Martha VanHorssen
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1. Freshman year in college at Western Michigan University, I was required to write a descriptive paper about a memory. I wrote about my six girlfriends from home and the adventure we had driving to Chicago to attend a concert. It was the last time all of us were together before we each left for college and it was one of the craziest experiences I’ve ever had.

2. ENG302: short response called [bleep]? :
I had to choose and discuss the five most offensive words in two paragraphs.

3. My Grandmother's Eulogy
1. descriptive paper about a memory
-I am still close with my girlfriends from the story. Writing the paper was an emotional experience.
-My mom helped me edit the paper. She cried and told me she was moved. My professor helped me edit the paper in two ways: one in a formal, academic format, and one that was more like a letter (but still formal) so that I could send it to my friends.
-This was the first time I wasn’t embarrassed about my writing and instead, I was proud. My mother is a very good writer and her emotional reaction surprised me.
-My professor was really helpful in developing my writing. This paper was a contribution to the semester I decided I wanted to be an English teacher.

2. [bleep]?
-Writing words that you feel so strongly about that you won’t say them is really difficult. This paper was outside my comfort zone but really helped in my understanding language.
-We discussed and read our papers in small groups and then as a class. My peers felt very strongly about the assignment and we discussed each paper for the content rather than the structure, grammar, etc.
- As an English major you expect people to edit your style rather than the content. It was refreshing to use a formal assignment as a way to develop ideas rather than assess what you know.

3. My Grandmother's Eulogy
-I was very close with my grandmother, noted by the family as “her favorite”. I was embarrassed and taken aback by my family when they asked me to read something at her funeral and surprised that they didn’t ask my sister (notorious for her writing ability).
-It was a funeral…so naturally, people cried and laughed. My mom was the most moved and my family was very proud.
-I realized that my emotional personality translates well into writing.
Mike Sherry
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"5:15 Train" (Story)
"5:15 Train" (Script)
"5:15 Train" (Video)

"Stars in Darkness" (Poem)

"Ocean Waves" (Song)
As I told you in class, this piece is a short story I adapted into a film script and then shot and edited into a short film. It was important to me because of what inspired the story, because of the transformations it went through, and because of the nature and scope of the process. I wrote the story in high school after watching a film called “Closely Watched Trains”; it’s a sad, moving film, and this story really feels to me like that movie, but also like the kind of spiritual connection between people I associated with it. Years later, as a senior in college, I adapted the story into a script for a film class, and planned to film it in New York City; when the female lead dropped out at the last minute, I thought all was lost until a good samaritan I had never met agreed to play the role, despite the fact that it meant driving to NYC at 10pm for 4 hours of filming! This shows me that what inspires and moves one to write something is important, as is the (often long and convoluted) process by which that text is transformed into other things.

You can see multiple drafts of this poem in the “Transformations” materials I included among readings on the writing process. It was important to me because I had never really (really) worked on a poem for that long, through repeated drafts and been so gratified by the outcome and reception from others. Though I undertook that on my own, I was inspired by a creative writing course I’d taken the previous summer as a Master’s student. Moreover, the poem captured for me another spiritual moment, as I wondered at the beauty of perfectly-spaced beads of ice on a tree branch I passed on my walk to school one day. Though I’m not particularly religious, I am moved by the unlikely perfection of nature.

This song is one whose music I wrote during the first summer I spent living and working in Paris, France. Alone in a strange city, I spent a lot of time busking, or playing music on streetcorners and in subways, as a way to meet people and earn some spare change. But it was only years later that I wrote words to the song for Ann (then my girlfriend, now my wife!). At one point, with no ticket, I stowed away on a train from the southern city of Avignon to Paris to visit her, and I announced my arrival by playing this song in the stairwell outside her seventh floor walkup….