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3 August 2017

Dear Professor Watkins,

It is often said that some of the hardest tasks you have to encounter will be the most
beneficial to you. Now this may seem somewhat dramatic, but this class has by far been
the most challenging English class Ive faced so far in my schooling. I have discovered
though that with the challenge this class has presented me with, I have gained more
knowledge than I ever could have in a different or lower level class. English has never
been my best subject by any means and school in general isnt something I necessarily
excel at, but again you learn the most from the things that push you the hardest. I really
took advantage of the tutors that reviewed my essays and your critiques. This made me
evaluate my work at a tougher level and by doing this I noticed a pattern in all of my
papers. It was very apparent that technical errors were my biggest problem. I also
learned that although I thought I went into each of my essays leaving my personal
opinions behind, my own beliefs always showed through too prevalent and didnt allow
me to expand my writing to its greatest potential.

Although at first I had a hard time with your detailed critiques, I really appreciated each
of them. I had to change a lot in each of my essays; everything from spelling and
grammar, which is not my strong suit, to themes, MLA, and counter arguments. As a
writer I have always been somewhat defensive when it comes to making changes in my
papers. This revision process has been an eye-opening and humbling experience and I
might not get to share every little thing I changed in each of my essays, but I hope to
share the revisions that improved my writing the most.

We started off the class with an essay that I was somewhat confused about. I really think
that if I had to do it all over again I would have gone about it a lot differently. Instead of
writing a more researched based essay I wouldve made it a lot more personable and
wouldve told a story about myself for the main body of the essay. I believe I got a lower
grade that I wouldve liked on this paper because I didnt follow the guidelines as closely
as I should have. The main corrections you gave me on this paper were punctuation and
grammar errors.

The research essay required for this class especially helped me grasp my understanding
on what a research paper should consist of as well as how to balance my individual voice.
It was harder to choose what prompt to white about, until I watched the YouTube video
on sustainable farming. While I agreed with the overall message of the video, I was very
frustrated with how misinformed Anna Lappe was. Not only that, but the video had
331,783 views. That means those 331,783 people were getting their information from a
source that didnt have the whole story. The only people who do have the full story are
the farmers, ranchers, and agriculturalists on the other side of the plate. After I chose the
theme of Tell it all and Tell it First it was easy from there to come up with examples
and statistics from previous events and news stories.

I put a lot of time and effort into my annotated bibliography and outline. I was proud of
the work that I submitted and appreciated your positive feedback. However, I was
disappointed in the work I presented at the proctored essay. Like I said in my opening,
school in general is not my specialty and when taking exams, it has always been difficult
for me to focus and excel. I am happy that I got through it and that it tested me and put
me out of my comfort zone.

In the American Dream essay it was hard to choose a prompt simply because I could take
a stance on many of them. I ended up choosing to write about why there is truth Donald
Trumps slogan Make America Great Again. I love this country and am so proud to be
an American. I think that we have made some milestones in a lot of problem areas our
country has faced, but in the recent years we have taken steps backwards and there is a lot
that needs to be fixed. My generation especially has a big chance to make a difference
and the first step was electing Donald Trump as President. In the essay I couldve
clarified my comparison between Martin Luther Kings movement and Donald Trumps
movement. I understand how they can be seen as opposites in a lot of ways and could
have emphasized the similarities. For example, Martin Luther King was trying to get the
nation to a point of equality for all and for a period of time we got there. More recently
issues with stereotypes and prejudice have become a growing concern and Trump is
trying to get back to that equality that King and so many others got us to.

The letter to a decision maker was without a doubt my favorite essay. Once I decided on
different routes of success for high school students as my topic, I then had to figure out
my stance on the topic and how I would then incorporate the so what factor into my
paper. After some thought, I came up with, So what if students go to college and rack
up debt but then cant find an adequate job in their field of study? The easiest part about
writing this essay was discovering statistics. I did find a wide variety of sources on the
subject that had numbers on everything from student loan debt and average salaries to
unemployment and underemployment rates. The articles, journals, and statistics that had
to do with PTE and agricultural programs, skilled labor, college, and technical schools
were plentiful. I believe my topic to be a good choice due to the abundance of resources
as well as its relevance and importance.

Before diving into this subject, I can honestly say that I saw nothing wrong with my
advisors and counselors drilling college into the heads of my peers and I. It was
incredibly interesting to get insight on the many different routes of success a student has
after high school and specifically how important it is for students to be educated on those
options in front of them. I Especially enjoyed looking into how much the college degree
you pursue can affect you either positively or negatively. Not only have I learned
interesting things about my topic, I now know how to really take control of my research
material so I can do more than just report facts. Although this essay challenged my
writing, and me I truly know I came out better and more knowledgeable after this

Like I said before, this has been a challenging course, but then again Ive learned so
much. It especially was hard trying to take a course during the summer when I am so
busy. Yes Ive improved dramatically on my grammar and MLA, but I think the most
important thing I will take away from this class is how it is so important for me to set
aside my own personal views to see the views of others. Because I have beliefs on each
of the topics I picked, it was difficult to talk about them without an opinion. On the other
hand, I was very happy with each of the essay topics because I could relate them to things
that I am passionate about and very much affect me. This is the last English course I
need to take to finish up my degree, but if I ever do have to write again I hope to write
about things that I truly care about and things. I will most likely use what I learned from
writing to a decision maker to tell my story and try to allow those individuals to see my
point of view on controversial issues.

I understand now that by recognizing the viewpoints of others I dont have to let it affect
my own convictions. Those beliefs that I do have though, can help me empathize with
the people on the opposing side even if I disagree. I can be more open to listening to
their messaging and point of view. There is always some common ground between two
opinions and once that common ground is found, it can be built upon for progress and not
hostility. Recognizing others stances, allowing choices, and helping educate each other on
both sides to any issue or topic is critical. We all need to recognize that having people
with strong convictions and opinions in society is important because when individuals are
planted strong enough in those beliefs, they can have an open, expressive and productive
dialoged. I have no doubt that I have learned this lesson and will use it throughout the rest
of my life. Thank you so much for all of your advice and help and most importantly,
thank you for challenging me and making this course a beneficial experience.

Devin Fisher