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Letter of Reflection

Dear Professor Myers,

Like many of my peers, I had no idea what to expect from this class. As someone who loves writing, my assumption was that this class would be a simple, easy A requirement. I am happy to report that, three months later, University Writing was successful in stretching my boundaries, not only just as a writer, but also as a thinker and a scholar.

Before taking this course, I don’t think I truly understood the importance of revision. In the past, I relied strongly on the strength of my first draft of my writing assignments. In fact, for most of the essays I wrote in high school, my first draft turned out to be my only draft. I didn’t neglect to make further revisions because I was lazy; rather, an extensive editing process simply wasn’t expected, required, or necessary to get a positive outcome. It was because of this class that I learned that, in order for a paper to be truly adequate, revision is important. I came to this realization most prominently in my work on the argument source critique. My first draft was fine. But in order for my writing to be anything more than merely adequate, I needed to sit down, make an outline, and spend some serious time reorganizing, restructuring, and refocusing on what exactly it was that I was trying to say.

In this class, I realized that it is extremely easy to just write something down on a piece of paper. Translating thoughts into words on paper has always been something that came natural to me. My fluidity in this particular area has only improved over the semester because of the amount of free writing we did at the start of each class. Organizing my thoughts in a concise manner is something I know how to do. But organizing thoughts in an effective and worthwhile manner is something far more complicated for me. I am still working toward writing essays that are structured in the best way, and I think now that I know how important revising essays are, I have the tools to move forward in this regard. I now know not only how to revise, but more basically that the writing process is drastically flawed and hopelessly incomplete if I do not do so.

Another thing that this class made me think about was the idea of a “scholar” in relation to a “writer.” My conclusion, after thinking about it, is this: writers are usually scholars, and the reverse is true as well. However, the two terms are different. Writing is an action, something that is done as a way to express thoughts. Scholars, of course, have knowledge, brains, and passion. But if they do not transmit or share this information (via writing, for example,) it is wasted. I think this class has changed me both as a writer and a scholar, but more so as a scholar. Yes, I believe I have become a better writer. And my appreciation for and commitment to producing strong writing has not been heightened or diminished over the past three months. My most important change, though, is a recognition of the process: every phase of the writing process is significant. There is more to constructing a good essay than merely writing. Research, outlining, revision, editing, and reflecting are also essential. I am more of a scholar now than I was before this course because I have a better idea of the importance of my ideas, the importance of sharing them, and the importance of creating something out of my thoughts that is not merely adequate, but spectacular. Finally, after many years of writing essays, I think I am slowly coming to an understanding of how, exactly, to incorporate scholarship into my writing, bringing it to the highest level possible.

Upon reflection, I am most proud of my ability to revise a paper and make it better, because, as you discussed in class, there are times when I feel a tremendous responsibility to make my first draft be perfect. It is calming to admit that the first draft is merely preliminary, but it is also empowering to accept that the more time and effort you spend sculpting an essay, the more beautiful the outcome.

I am proud of my growth overall as a result of this class, but I am particularly proud of the work I have done on my final research paper with my group. As a student in the School of Media and Public Affairs, journalism and its changing nature is something that really intrigues me. It was interesting and really intellectually stimulating for me to learn about an example of the new and revolutionary forms journalism is taking through blogging, specifically in the Huffington Post. I enjoyed looking this blog it through the lens of science, because I know that I will most likely not study at journalism in this particular way again in my future examinations of blogging.

This first semester was an extremely broadening experience for me in many regards. Living in a vibrant city with abundant resources and an enthusiastic student body is something I was pleased to discover when I came to George Washington. Overall, I think I grew into a new, different, and hopefully better person. Intersections of Science, Media, and Culture has proved to be a major part of my transition during the first half of my freshman year, and I am confident that I can continue to work to master the skills I have been practicing in this class not only in my remaining time at university, but for the duration of my professional life.

Regards,

Justin

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