Working towards improved writing through academic partnerships

          Throughout my high school career, my teachers always assigned essays that were to be written quickly and in one sitting. This tactic was done to prepare us for essay prompts that might have been on state testing or the SAT’s. Although this technique helped me to respond to test prompts, I feel like it hindered the essay’s that I had to write as class assignments. I tended to compose my papers that counted as class credit similarly to how I wrote essays for tests. I typically wrote them the night before they were due and then edited by reading over them once. In many ways I feel like this method prevented me from writing strong essays that truly expressed the information I had learned. I could have improved my high school paper’s if I had brainstormed long before the due date. Even though this is how I wrote my essay’s in high school, I am learning new methods in my college INTD class that have taught me to write stronger papers while avoiding procrastination.                      

          Along the journey of writing my Bloodchild essay, figuring out how to write a strong paper was an aspect I focused on. Getting a head start on it to avoid having to write it the night before was strongly encouraged in the class. Descartes Discourse on Method clearly states how to write a paper that allows thoughts to build on each other while avoiding procrastination. Descartes recommends conducting “your thoughts in an orderly fashion,” meaning that your ideas should begin small and build up. I did this by thoroughly examining the story to find quotes and information. By doing this, my paper became stronger because I related found evidence to my original point’s. I also took time to construct a strong thesis that I could build on. Once I had my thesis, deciding on what points to write about came easily and I could think much more efficiently. Some of what I wrote about was built off class conversation. By discussing the story in class, I realized more information that related to my thesis. Since we were all working on essays about Bloodchild, building off my classmate’s suggestions helped me to improve my paper. Our class shared insightful information from the story that allowed us to bounce ideas off of each other. Doing this allowed us to build on our original drafted points by helping each other realize new ideas. Avoiding taking ideas from others was always advised against in class. Rather, the professor reminded to take our classmate’s “they say” and create an “I say.” As the Globe states, “The entire College community works together to advance knowledge.” This statement relates to the assignment because the entire class came together to speak about the fundamentals of Bloodchild. The teaching assistants and professor reminded me of the Globe statement when they offered me insight. By running my draft through them and developing an academic partnership, I positively transformed my paper. They gave me wonderful advice that allowed me to write a properly structured essay. Their insight on what I should focus on made it easier for me to build on my idea’s to create a comprehensible paper.

          Working on the paper for a couple of weeks helped me to discover points about my thesis that I would not have realized if I had procrastinated. By gaining insight from my classmates and working with the professor and TA’s, I was able to create a draft that I was confident in handing in. Working on my draft for several weeks has made me realize the importance of structuring my time responsibly when working on future essays. It also taught me to discuss with others to gain insight on how to improve my paper. Learning new methods to improve my writing has been a journey, but it has made me excited to continue to develop and become a confident writer.

The Comfort of Certainty

When I was younger, I would do whatever I could to miss school. I’m guilty of faking a few stomach aches or head aches for a day home. However, the older I get, the more I do to avoid missing school. Sure I still get exhausted and bored with school, but I would rather push through that exhaustion than miss a class and have to wonder what I missed. That is, there’s a lot I would risk to avoid uncertainty.

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Rewards of Coming to College

Coming into college I was terrified that I wouldn’t be mentally ready for the toll it would have on my mind, body, and soul. Throughout high school, my teachers would tell me that my professors would not care how I’m doing in the class or if I’m caught up on work. But now, my relationship with my professors are better than ever. I always feel welcome to come to office hours or email them about missing class or missing work.
Being in INTD 105 with Dr. McCoy has opened my eyes up. She allows us to call her by her first name of Beth which eliminates the boundaries and pre-established feelings that the students are lesser than the professor. This makes me feel like she cares about how well we’re understanding the material. I no longer fear asking questions in my classes or lectures to make sure I understand what is going on in the class. Also, I’ve realized that I am no lesser, and no greater than professors and teachers. They want me to succeed as much as I hope for myself.
Improving my relationships with my professors and other students has helped my grades improve and my mental health. Having the fear of speaking up in class gone has been a huge weight that Beth has helped lift off my shoulders.

The Pomodoro Technique

The first day of biology they bring up statistics that more than half the freshman pre-med students will not end up in the school of biology. I was surprised that the hardship of picking a major wasn’t over. When I came to college I never thought about the departments picking me. Biology is a gruesome major, but I always thought I could handle it. I got good grades in high school and my studying techniques always worked.

I learned after the first exam that my studying habits were not enough to pass biology. I began to spend a lot of time on biology. Even though, I wasn’t interested in learning about cell division I mastered it. Yet, my grades were lower than students who never attended any SI sessions and claimed they spent half the time I did. I had other classes and outside activities that I started to slack in. Sleep became a major issue for me. I wasn’t saving any time for myself. I ended up becoming the sickest I have ever been during finals week. Luckily, I survived just in time for winter break.

The class discussion on Five Strategies to Demystify The Learning Process, was important to me because it related to me struggling in the pre-med track. The article says you can be skilled at any subject when using proper studying techniques. The “Pomodoro Technique” is interval studying to better absorb material. The article explains this technique, “set a timer for 25 minutes and work until the timer goes off. At that point, take a five-minute break: stand up, walk around, take a drink of water, etc. After three or four 25-minute intervals, take a longer break (15 – 30 minutes) to recharge.” Personally, I could not get much done this way because it takes me about 15-30 to get focused. By the time I got into my work it would be break time, and I wouldn’t get anything done. Especially with the dense workload I had this technique wouldn’t work for me.

I agree that if you put your mind and heart to it you can do anything. But they fail to mention with that choice you must give up other things. I believe that you should be passionate about a topic, otherwise it prevents your success. I could have stuck with pre-med, but I would have had to give up lacrosse, my social life, studying abroad, and taking classes outside the strict track. It was my choice that I decided to find a topic that I am more skillful at and passionate about. The “Pomodoro technique” may work for some but I don’t think it would have changed the outcome of my science career.

Reactions to Octavia Butler’s Bloodchild

I believe that Bloodchild by Octavia Butler could have benefited from being longer. It seems to me that Butler began to craft a complex and incredibly different world, but with the story only being 25 pages or so, this world was unable to be fully developed. If Bloodchild was longer, Butler could have expanded on the relationship between the Terran and the Tlic. We could have known what existed outside the Preserve and other aspects of Terran-Tlic relations that we are currently left guessing about. Additionally, the increased length would have allow Butler to discuss more of the “pregnant man” aspect of Bloodchild. In her afterword, Butler describes this story to be, to some degree, a story about what would happen if a man became pregnant. After reading the story, I noticed the effects of a man becoming pregnant were not really discussed, at least from a social perspective. If the story was longer, perhaps Butler would have written about the social consequences among the Terrans of men being pregnant- how would Terran social order be different now that both genders could bear children?

Put a Hold on Holding the Door

Why does a task that is so minuscule have such an impact on one’s character? If you fail to hold the door they say you are impolite, and raised wrong. If you hold the door too early you can be categorized as ‘too’ nice or even annoying. I believe that holding the door is overrated and outdated. A person has much more qualities to portray. This is a gesture that takes nothing but a second, but is considered crucial to ones personality. The issue becomes more complicated when you put it in this perspective; this campus is quite large, meaning you cannot identify every person you walk past. Thus, is holding the door for a stranger to protect your reputation worth the risk of allowing an unknown person into an exclusively accessible building? In todays society schools are putting safety above all due to the much too common events occurring. Which justifies why we should be more cautious when doing this deceivingly important action. The University of Georgia’s Police Department defines “the practice of holding the door for multiple persons” as “piggy backing”. Suggesting that this be avoided at all costs because it can lead to many risks such as burglary and possibly assault. Next time you hold the door, out of habit perhaps for an unfamiliar face consider the risks. 

We Told You So

My classmate Jess recently posted a blog post (What College Will Be Like) starting with: “Ever since the beginning of high school, teachers harped on my classmates and I about college expectations. Writing classes had papers on reading assignments due every week. I was told, “this is preparing you for college” and “professors won’t baby you.” And I can relate, as I’m sure many of my peers do too, to this exhausting and repetitive high school process. This quote pertains directly to our class discussion on consent and a question I asked myself after reading Bloodchild: “how much do we really know before we accept the ‘risk’?”

When those teachers gave us all of the “tools” they said were necessary to succeed in college, we as students assumed we were leaving high school prepared for that next step. Now, as a second semester freshman, I can say that nothing truly prepares you for the reality of college and the amount of work it requires until you’re actually there. I talk more about this unpreparedness in my previous blog post (Reflections, Relations, and Reality). A very similar situation is apparent in Bloodchild, when Gan thinks he’s prepared to become a host for T’Gatoi’s eggs and go through the birthing process. On page 13 of the text, Gan mentally prepares himself to bring in the animal sacrifice T’Gatoi demanded and witness his first live birth on a dying man. He states, “I turned to take the ache to her, then hesitated. For several seconds, I stood in front of the closed door wondering why I was suddenly afraid. I knew what was going to happen. I hadn’t seen it before but T’Gatoi had shown me diagrams and drawings. She made sure I knew the truth as soon as I was old enough to understand it.” However, after seeing the horrors of the birth that went anything but perfect, Gan questions his whole relationship with T’Gatoi and duty to be a host.

Both students and Gan were not fully aware of the risks of the partnerships they agreed to. Personally, I am told that by attending Geneseo and accepting this academic partnership, I’ll obtain a degree and get a job. No one tells you that even after graduation, I might not be able to find a job. I might not be able to pay off loans. I might look back on these years thinking of them as a waste, wishing someone had told me that the preparation in high school, hard work in college, and determination for a job does not actually guarantee a successful future. Only after experiencing this partnership in college do I see graduating seniors on my team struggling to find a spot in the real world after May. Gan is prepared for his role in similar teachings. He’s told what’s supposed  to happen in the birthing process, how he will be helping the Tlic and his family, and how “painless” it is. He doesn’t even question his relationship with T’Gatoi until witnesses the birth that makes all of the diagrams and knowledge into a terrifying reality.

Would most students agree to the expenses and time spent at college if they knew personally how uncertain the end result is? Would Gan have accepted his duty to T’Gatoi from such an early age if he had been shown a live birth years ago? It seems that this innocence and in-exposure to all the risks of our partnerships lead us to leap into them without much question until reality hits. With all the discussion in today’s world regarding consent, and especially informed consent on college campuses, it seems like schools ironically break the very practice they preach. They fail to show us the outcomes of an imperfect college experience, just like T’Gatoi fails to show Gan the possibilities of an imperfect birth.

I challenge all students to ask themselves, “is this partnership I have agreed to a fair one?”.



The Best Class Ever

Best class ever, you must be wondering to yourself. On February 12th, we drew in class of what we thought T’Gatoi looked like. I thought this activity was very amusing because never in a million years I thought I would be drawing in a college course let alone with crayons and markers.  Considering that the last art course I took was in 8th grade, it was safe to say my drawing was definitely not the best.

When Dr.McCoy told us to draw what we thought T’Gatoi looked like, my mind went to pac-man ghosts for some reason. In my head, how Octavia Butler described how Tlic move very swiftly, I connected it to how the ghosts in pac-man cut around the corners very quick. On top of that, I also thought a Tlic could look like the monster in Stranger Things 2. For those who know what I am talking about it is the shadow monster.  It was interesting to see what my fellow classmates thought a Tlic looked like. For example, Roisin thought a Tlic looked like a human but with a lot of limbs with a exoskeleton look to it. On the other hand, we have Anderson who interpreted a Tlic as a worm like creature with a lot of limbs. Anderson’s illustration stood out to me the most because how creative it was.

After my group was done talking to each other, we googled “tlic” and Anderson’s drawing was the most accurate. Looking back at the text, one can see how a Tlic is illustrated. For example, Gan describes what he sees when Lomas is being cut open by T’Gatoi  for the birth of baby Tlics. He describes them as “large worms”. Also Gan describes T’Gatoi as boneless when she moves fast and states T’Gatoi has a long spine. Dissecting this text now illustrates to me a worm. I do not believe Dr.McCoy’s main point of this activity was to show that you can read the text better but that is what I got out of this activity.

In conclusion, I titled this blog as “The Best Class Ever” because a simple activity opened up my eyes that I can understand Blood Child even better. Even though we are college students it does not mean that we should lose sight of our creativity. At the end of the day creativity is what makes us different.


The Risks and Rewards of Childbirth

Octavia Butler’s “Bloodchild” explores the risks and rewards of childbirth and how they motivate characters, specifically the protagonist Gan. Although the short story does not deal with childbirth in the exact same way we know it, the T’lic-birth that Terrans experience is similar in some ways to that which women experience in our society. What prevents me from comparing the two more accurately is that we, as readers, do not know what a healthy, normal T’lic birth looks like. We only know what this birthing process looks like when it goes wrong. And I, as a woman, do not know what childbirth looks like when it goes wrong. I have only witnessed it go as planned. I am trying to keep this in mind as I evaluate the risks and rewards that Terrans experience in giving birth, versus those which women in our society experience.

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