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Miya Mosley

Professor Knudson
UWRT 1102
29 April 2015

Workshopping Memo
My literacy autobiography begins on November 28, 1996 on a crisp Thanksgiving morning.
Since the day I was born; I began observing and absorbing aspects of my new world thanks to
my wonderful family. I am of African-American descent and I was born in Winston-Salem,
North Carolina to a family of country slang and love in its purest form. My family immediately
began teaching me new things by talking to me, reading to me, and taking me out to explore the
world. Although I cant physically recall these events and how this affected how well I learned
and retained my culture; I learned that I started soaking up the English language and my AfricanAmerican culture very quickly.
Although I didnt speak my first word until I was almost eleven months old, I was
speaking almost fluent English by the age of three and a half years old. As you can see, my
learning capabilities soared dramatically. My family found it very important that I learned how to
name my body parts, my relations to other people, my culture, my religion, and how to write
before I began Kindergarten. Every morning with my grandmother I had grits and eggs for
breakfast and then she would bring out the pencil and paper for me to learn to write my ABCs. I
became so fascinated with writing that it was all that I wanted to do during my day. I would write
all over the walls, and anything else I could reach. By the time I was four years old I had run out

of space! At nights, I used to get read Winnie the Pooh and Dr. Seuss by my grandmother. I loved
following along with her while she read, trying to match the letters to the sounds she made with
her mouth so that I could do the same thing all by myself. I always wanted a challenge so I
would go for the grown up books that I saw my grandmother reading and tried to read it to
myself. I tried relentlessly to pronounce the big, hard-to-pronounce words that I saw but my
grandmother told me that one day I would be able to do it. I had a lot of faith in myself because
my family instilled in me the important aspects of religion from a very young age.
We attended church service every Sunday and I learned to trust God and to always have
faith in his word. I feel like God and my religion played a huge role in my wish to learn and to
become someone. Ive always wanted to excel in life no matter how big or small my challenge
was at the time. A major challenge had been entering into Kindergarten because I wasnt used to
not being around my family. I felt like I was around people who I didnt know, people who were
raised differently and were clearly of different descents and it made me extremely
uncomfortable. My kindergarten teacher helped me cope and become more willing to experience
the other kids and enjoy learning by asking me what I liked to do the most. I told her I loved
writing poems and so she allowed me to do so. She showed me that although we all looked
different; we were all human and deserved to not be judged by the least important part of who
you are: your looks. I loved to write and from day one I had an extreme talent at it; and I soared
from that point on. My elementary school had a school newspaper that's purpose was to identify
talented writers in each grade level. I was chosen in the newspaper many times throughout my
elementary school career, and my grandmother hung all of them up for me so that I could look at
my achievements and soar to the next accomplishment. In our readings, there was a statement
saying Its just as important to understand visual messages as it is to understand written

messages. The visual messages on the wall helped me to keep up focus and stay on the right
track. (ET Chapter 5 pg. 209) For me, it was more about pleasing myself and God because I
knew that he was watching me; and the last thing I wanted to do was to let him down or to make
him feel that I was unworthy of my calling.
In fourth grade, I had a national writing test that I got ready for all year-long with my
peers; and I made a perfect score on the writing exam. I was so shocked yet so proud of myself. I
knew I deserved it and I was eager to go do more yet again. My summer of fourth grade, I read
the Ocean Within by V.M. Caldwell. The plot was about a girl named Elizabeth who knows she
was adopted and was struggling internally to accept her new family. Shes very excited about the
family trip to the beach but it comes with more internal conflict than she thought it would. This
book stuck with me because it teaches you us to be proud of who you are, regardless of where
you came from or the situations that God throws at you. This is important because I was taught
that God would never put more on you than you can handle, but until this book I never had any
concrete evidence outside of what my family had taught me. This validation from other sources
was very important to me and it alleviated any doubts that I had ever had in my mind about my
religion and the things that my family had taught me. And from that moment I carried that book
in my heart until this day and it has honestly kept me the open-minded person that I am today.
Before leaving elementary school, I also won an award for having the highest accelerated
reader points in my grade level. I was given permission to throw a pie in my principals face.
This may sound a bit weird for some but for us children it was the best reward and called for
extreme bragging rights! I had the absolute best time of my kid life that day and I left elementary
school an accomplished reader and writer with the rewards to prove it. But yet again, I was eager
for more accomplishments.

When I entered middle school I attended an International Baccalaureate school which

contained very rigorous course work that at first I wasnt sure if I was intelligent enough to
handle. Why was I doubting myself if I had all the resources and past validating that I had? I was
brought up with the importance of being humble, not proud so I felt as each new challenge came
I had to treat it as it was my first. And that way I knew I would stay humble each time. My very
first day of seventh grade I met Mrs. Austin, my language arts teacher for the year. She was an
extremely hardcore, African-American, and very intimidating to all of us. The moment we
stepped in her classroom our work ethics changed; honestly they had to if we all wanted to
succeed in her class. We were all immersed in her new teaching methods and strategies
immediately and felt that we were not ready for this new learning environment. Nonetheless I put
complete effort in all of my assignments and all of my poem recitals. Every month we had a
book to read but the big challenge was the poems. This was a huge challenge for me because
then I was very afraid of public speaking. I didnt know how I would get it accomplished. The
very first recital was a poem by Langston Hughes titled, I too, sing America. I did okay my
first recital, but it could have definitely been better executed. Now I reference back to that poem
when Im mentoring my younger siblings and cousins. After Mrs. Austin's class I had better
memory, I was a better communicator, and I analyzed writings a bit more deeply than I did in
Elementary School. I ended up with a B average in her class at the end of the year; but, what was
most important was what I learned from her that I could carry throughout my whole life:
persistence and drive will get you through any obstacle you're facing.
There were so many obstacles that I met during my high school career that I couldnt
recall them all if I wanted to. But I can honestly say that a lot of my power movements in life
happened during these three years. I attended North Forsyth High School, an equally diverse

school as most; but our school focused heavily on showing school pride and making each school
year better than the last. In ninth grade I was assigned into a theatre class because I wanted to get
out of my comfort zone and experience different cultures coming together to entertain
supporters. We had to do soliloquies, create music videos, direct and produce shows as well and
I had an absolute blast learning to do these tasks. In theatre class I definitely gained some
creativity skills, time management skills, patience, and memorization skills. I use these skills on
a daily basis when I read, write, communicate verbally, etc. Because of these acquired skills
theatre class definitely changed me in a positive way.
During High School I also worked after school so I had to learn how to rank, balance my
daily activities, and manage my time very well in order to put as much effort as I could into my
schoolwork. This may seem like a heavy load for a teenager to handle but I had no choice if I
wanted to afford things and be independent. This was a major challenge for me but I knew that as
long as I tried it would all work out. In high school, I always found time to read something new.
Reading was a trip to paradise for me; while soaking up new writing techniques and analyzing
skills I was actually enjoying myself while being productive. I love books that make you take a
step back and view things from a perspective other than your own. In tenth grade I read Night by
Elie Wiesel and it did something amazing for me. Before reading the book I always had the
notion that Jews played the victim when they, too, had some responsibility in what happened to
them during the Holocaust. I believe the way I was raised and the morals I was taught played a
huge role in this theory because I was taught that if someone was being punished, it was because
of something that they did. My family always looked down on those who played the victim
and so I always associated these teachings with the Jews and the Holocaust. Elie Wiesels syntax
and structure of his book made it very difficult for me to understand the Jews perspective; and

his choice of words and form of the book challenged me as a young adult to reconsider my own
perspective. I was absolutely amazed at how one man could use words so simple and create this
mass controversy of whether or not the Jews were treated like animals or whether they had it
coming. I, personally, changed my perspective after reading the book because I realized that the
story he was telling in such detail and horror was his real story; no one deserves to be treated that
way. And its absolutely clear that no one tried to help them, but no one informs us today of those
faults because it would incriminate everyone who stood back and let it continue for so long.
From that point on I always make it an obligation to annotate deeply when reading and try to
understand everyones point of view in the story. This definitely reverts back to our first reading
in class which states that A literate person needs to know how to cross linguistic boundaries and
how to respect language and cultural diversity.(ET Chapter 1 pg.2) Just because we dont
understand the culture doesnt make it a wrong culture; and that was my lesson that I now make
sure to revert back to when necessary.
Sometimes, we tend to make our opinions facts in our minds and use them as such when
in fact they are not reality. I used to feel guilty of this when it came to my African Culture. I had
this notion that all Africans wore the same clothes, were poor or were living in poor conditions,
etc. And although this is true in some cases, there are some developed countries in Africa. I
didnt realize how wrong I was about judging and not knowing the facts until I read Things Fall
Apart by Chinua Achebe in the tenth grade. Okonkwo, the main character in the story, was a very
strong man in his village; which was displayed by his strength, the number of wives they had,
and how much respect he generated from his community. Although he had great strength, his
internal weaknesses overcame him and he ended up doing what was considered the most
cowardly in African Culture: committing suicide. Reading this teaches you that everyone needs

comfort and support in their lives in order to function; you cant prosper alone. And the most
important thing is feeling happy and satisfied in your own skin; not seeking to be the most
powerful and lonely man in the country. I apply this to my life because it relates to my culture
although my culture is not pure African because it has American influence its still very similar to
one another in aspect of family and power. These important readings influenced intrinsic
motivation and deep reflections on how they applied to my life and the areas of my life that
could be positively affected by this newfound knowledge. I took these readings very seriously
because I knew that would serve a purpose for me somehow, someway. One aspect of literacy I
didnt take seriously was mathematics. That was until I stepped into AP statistics my senior year
of high school. I had expected Statistics to be like any other math class I had taken; easy to grasp
and easy A; but I soon noticed that this would not be as easy as i expected. AP Statistics was very
challenging for me because it was just as important to join the words as it was to get the numbers
right. And this amazed me and angered me all at once because I hadnt been asked to consider
two literary perspectives at one time before. I struggled the year trying to do so because I
couldnt fathom the unified concepts and it got me on every single test that we took. It wasnt
until I reviewed for the AP stats exam with my tutor that it finally dawned on me that it was all
on me to get out of my bias and get with reality if I wanted to improve my grade in the class. The
idea that literacy has a place in every aspect of our lives, including math which I never believed I
would ever use in life after school; manifested in me the importance of literacy, language,
individuality, and the ability for different literary themes to be incorporated into one spectrum.
The top three major experiences in my life that have brought me to the mindset that I
have today, although I do expect it to change; is getting my high school diploma, getting
accepted into college, and writing my Who am I and Why am I a Leader essay in college. For

me being an African-American woman, I expect things to be a bit more difficult for me as far as
competing for job opportunities and getting treated in this world. But I strive to get through these
challenges and be the first in my family to get a college degree; because that is very important to
me. I want to be the perfect role model for my little brothers and sisters and to show them that no
matter where you come from you have a right to make a better life for yourself. And the first step
to doing so is getting all the education that you can receive, no matter how hard it gets you just
have to strive for more. When I was applying to be in the Emerging Leaders program in
September, I had to answer questions about my leading capabilities and why I felt that I was fit
for the organization. This led me to do some deep soul-searching and reflecting back on things I
had done in the past, what I had learned from my experiences, and my skills I obtained from
those experiences. Afterwards I was never more confident about myself being a leader. I felt very
accomplished but I know I still have so much more to learn. Looking back now I appreciate all
the challenges that I faced because they allowed me to make mistakes and realize my faults and
improve myself as a human being.
Literacy is everywhere and its very important to expand your knowledge at every given
opportunity because you don't want to be left. I know for a fact that I am not done learning and
growing yet. I am sure that I will never be completely done learning new things and being able to
reflect on these years in the future. This world is becoming smaller in terms that everyone is
unifying at some level whether it be economics, business, politics, trade, etc., whether they want
to admit it or not. There is literacy in every part of our lives; family, academics, leisure, religion,
and culture. And we must all appreciate that and take the necessary steps to consider others and
break these boundaries once and for all.

Works Cited
"Situating Visual Literacies." (n.d.): n. pag. Abstract. (n.d.): n. pag.