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Letter of Reflection

Dear Professor Myers and Classmates,

Thank you all for a great semester and a great introduction to college writing. As a systems engineering major, I came into my freshman year focused on doing well in courses such as Calculus and Chemistry. I did not really consider what my UW course would mean for my major. I just assumed it would be a class that I had to get through in order to graduate. However, I quickly found that the skills I learned in this course could have a profound influence on my career in engineering.

Prior to taking this course, I had written about five research papers on topics such as The Beatles, Czar Peter III, and baroque music. One common theme to the topics I wrote about is that they had very little to do with science and engineering. We were told to approach these topics journalistically, relaying information and making an argument based on it. So I was coming into college having a very specific view on academic writing. I was quickly overwhelmed by the science blogs and the science articles I was reading, and when it came to write papers I found myself struggling. This is not your average English course. It was something better.

Thanks to our discussions and writing sessions in class, I found myself thinking more and more scientifically as the semester progressed. This eventually meant my writing became increasingly scientific. I began questioning my previous journalistic views on writing while incorporating more scientific aspects of writing. I am still looking for a balance between the two, but this will take practice. The requirements outlined by this course gave me the opportunity to practice using both, and all of your critiques of my writing have given me new standards and expectations in the world of writing.

At the beginning of the semester, I did not have an opinion on what it was to be a good writing. Now, I believe a good writer is one who can evoke emotion through imagery. This goes for literature, journalism, and as I discovered this semester, science writing. I think this is most difficult to do with science writing, because science can be a very difficult topic to make interesting to the casual reader. No matter how boring a topic might appear to be, a good writer will be able to make it interesting. My favorite author, JD Salinger, is the master of making the ordinary extraordinary. In his short stories, he takes every day events and gives them profound meaning. His stories have made me laugh and, yes, even cry. This is what I strive to become. Unfortunately, I have found that I am not a good writer. I struggle with providing interesting imagery on topics that I enjoy, let alone topics I have difficulty understanding myself. This does not mean I will not be a good writer one day, but it means at the moment I have a lot of work to do. I think the first step is understanding what you need to work on, and thanks to the criticism I have received from you, Professor Myers, and from you, my peers, I am on the road to becoming a better writer.

This class pushed me like my previous English and writing classes never could. It gave me new insight into the world of writing. It did not focus on what I learned in previous years such as grammar and formatting. It forced me to take my research to a new level while actually thinking about who my audience is. I previously thought of my audience as my teacher, but I know now that a writer should write so that they can interest the largest possible audience. Thanks to you, my audience, I have a new approach to writing and new potential as a researcher, a writer, and an engineer.

All the best,

Alex Schiefer

Categories: Uncategorized
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