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Maya Black Prof.

Julie Hicks Honors Freshman Seminar December 4, 2012 Final Reflection Just fourteen weeks ago, I began my journey to obtain my degree in the year 2016 and here fourteen weeks later I eagerly approach the finish line of my first semester. These fourteen weeks were a journey indeed, and with every step I took, I learned so much. My e-portfolio represents my specific journey I took through my semester in Freshman Seminar. When it came to choosing the artifacts for my portfolio, it all came down to the key assignments that gave me that push to keep on going. It was in these assignments I discovered my own strength. Although I knew my college career would start in August, when move-in day came, I felt I had been thrown into a funnel and dropped into unfamiliar territory. The journey of my first semester started rocky, but here today I can confidently say I can see myself doing this for the next four years. The theme for my portfolio represents the path of a brick road as in the Wizard of Oz. The people I met along my journey along with the artifacts I chose from this semester collectively helped me rediscover who I am. When everything you once knew suddenly changes into a new environment, one can easily lose themselves in the process. My first semester was all about rediscovering myself in a new environment. Looking back on my journey some key assignments alone in Freshman Seminar provided me with the tools to this rediscovery. One of my ultimate favorite projects to work on was my altered book project; however, my mindset for this project did not initially spark such excitement. This assignment was one of the first assignments given right around the time I was in an emotional and physical wreck. The typical freshman college student struggles were at an all-time high. When I was given this assignment, I became highly frustrated because I had no tools to make such a creative masterpiece my professor was asking of me.

My mother and I had actually made a joke about how there was no need to buy colored pencils, paper, and glue this time around. I regretted being so naïve at this point, but I turned around and immediately began preparing for this project. A week later, I finally had the old fairytale book from my childhood I planned to alter, duck tape, markers, and other creative materials. I was finally able to begin this creative masterpiece. As I began creating the book, I was amazed at how much each page said Maya Alexandra Black in big, bold letters. I naturally put one hundred and ten percent into every project I create, but this particular project was different in that it truly represented me as a person. The front cover sealed the deal by itself. It has a foundation of black duck tape, which is symbolic to my last name, while the cheetah print diamond pattern on top of it represents my humorous and fun personality. I have a very structured, by the book personality that is complemented by my wild sense of humor and love for having fun. Of the structured pattern, two of the diamonds lie in a different direction than all the rest because sometimes I have a hard time finding a balance between the two. Sometimes I can be too structured, and as a result forget to relax and live a little. This balance has been tested even more now that I have entered college because I desire to be successful in all avenues, yet be well rounded outside of my studies. In a sense I have an indirect desire to be perfect (which I know is not probable). The amount of work it took to produce the perfectly sized cheetah diamonds out of sticky duck tape is directly correlated to the amount of effort I’m willing to put in my education and success in life. After completing my altered book project, I realized how much of a tangible representation of myself it had become. At a time when I thought I was losing myself, I was able to flip through this book and remember little pieces of myself. Having to complete this project at such a vulnerable time in my life, allowed me to easily put my most cherished thoughts and memories into an inanimate object without even thinking. For this very reason, my altered book was my special selection.

Specifically, each page has a story just as the cover did, and each story gave me a piece of home that I didn’t have in Charlotte. This book began the path to my rediscovery in a new environment, and I cherish everything this project stood for because it gave me the push to keep going at such a critical time in my life. After completing this project, my outlook of college life totally changed. This project began my journey of rediscovering myself in a new environment and helped me realize this change in my life was a good change. In order to grow and develop I had to accept my high school self as a memory and move forward to rediscovering myself at the collegiate level. With this new mindset, I was able to accept more change throughout the semester with ease and further embrace my new environments by taking on more challenges and making Charlotte my second home. Just a week before leaving for Fall Break, we were given the task of writing our own This I Believe Essay. I chose to write about the old wise saying, “It Takes a Village to Raise a Child.” I hold this belief dear to my heart because I feel I am a direct result of this saying. I have been told I have an old spirit, and with this characteristic, I am able to easily befriend adults and children my own age alike. Many of my adult friends are mentors that I cherish greatly for their contribution in my life, and with this essay, I was reminded of how much of an impact one particular mentor has been in my life. One of my dear friends, Kimberly Johnson, is a children’s author and motivational speaker who inspires kids on a daily basis. Within my essay, I was able to speak on my personal experiences with Kim as a friend and provide specific anecdotes of how she is a part of many other kid’s villages. Through the writing process of this essay, I became more aware of how individuals influence one another on a daily basis whether that is directly or indirectly, good or bad. I looked back weeks prior to the amount of phone calls I received and the sheer amount of support I had from my village. It meant the world to me for so many people besides my parents to care so much for my well-being. With such insurmountable support, I developed more will to push through the first semester jitters, and move

forward in the rediscovery of myself in a new environment. When so many people are in your corner, you can’t help but be inspired to do everything in your power to make them proud. My prior experiences allowed me to develop an essay that showed my belief in the power of a village in a child’s life, but with these thoughts, I couldn’t help but think how children without this village must feel. Whom do they look to for encouragement if their parents aren’t involved in their life when times get tough? Not only does a child need a village for support but more importantly if a child hears advice or criticism multiple times, he or she is more likely to accept it or learn from it, than if they constantly hear nagging from the same parent or guardian. My experience writing this paper made me develop a new appreciation for each member of my village. I look forward to expounding my village with more mentors here at Charlotte that can continue to guide me in my field of study, while inspiring kids along the way to contribute to the success of the future. The future of our country is in my generation’s hands and this responsibility is not one that can be taken lightly. Two of the artifacts I chose for my portfolio were combined to explain how I came to rediscover my voice in the world. Now that I am of age to vote, my voice in the world has taken a three hundred and sixty degree turn. It is now necessary that I am cognizant of the candidates and the everevolving sides to every story. With this class activity, I took into account each side of the spectrum and fairly looked at the views of each party. I was not surprised to discover my viewpoint falling in the middle in many situations, but I can admit that I found a few surprises on each side. I am excited to have the right to exercise my civic duty in this country, but with this right, I cannot forget the responsibility it holds. A couple weeks prior to the election, we spent one class session discussing what views would determine who we voted for, what views were out there for each party, and what views should we all be concerned about. Just a week prior to this week, we had discussed the difficulties in war and I was devastated at the amount of casualties we had in the war. These events and many more are affected by

the many voices of Americans and their choices in politics. It was during these two classes that I realized my voice in politics had changed. These two activities helped me realize another discovery within my journey, and further enriched my experience during my first semester. Whether we like it or not, our world is going to require some big decisions in the near future, and we have to be ready for them regardless of any situation. We are going to need the next President just as much as we’ll need the next doctor. There is much work to be done in the political world, but there is still a fair share of work needed in many avenues of our country. Shortly after returning from fall break, I was forced to watch food, as I knew it, be picked apart in the film Food Inc., right in front of my eyes. This film caused me to become paranoid about my food for about a week, and even now, I am still highly conscientious about the food I consume. I am concerned that America has put our food production on the back burner, and as a result, companies like Monsanto, are becoming monopolies behind the scenes. I have an issue with companies that treat their employees as if they are slaves to the business. Somewhere along the way, farming and agriculture have allowed advances in technology to destroy the joy in the business. They have become consumed with building a larger profit rather than serving the consumer. With these losses our employees, consumers, and animals are suffering, while a small number of people are actually benefiting from these companies efforts. If our food production companies change their mindset to earlier beliefs, we would not witness half the amount of disease outbreaks, or deaths from just consuming food. Given these points, I have truly enjoyed each assignment I completed in this class. I consider each of my artifact choices to be the most valuable in my rediscovery of myself, yet I feel every assignment given accomplished some underlying goal. By just completing these assignments, my mind could be relieved of stress and put on autopilot. On day one of class, my professor told us Freshman Seminar would be a like no other class, instead it would be therapeutic in a way, and I must admit that she was correct. This class is the reason I survived my first two weeks in college. With a smaller class

size, and less stressful work, I was able to relax and just let my mind work freely under no extreme pressure. I now understand why this class is recommended to freshman of the University Honors Program. The honors program in itself has exposed me to great people, great opportunities, and great information in classroom settings. Not many freshmen can say they were the first to register for spring classes or that they are one of twenty-five in their English class. These opportunities give honor students an environment that stimulates growth and development, and almost guarantees success. While many look at honor classes as more work, I look at them as more opportunity, more education gained. Why not challenge yourself to do something big; I can guarantee your rewards will be greater in the end. As I look on to next semester, I look to take what I learned this semester and further prepare myself for a new fresh slate of classes. Through this class, I was able to rediscover myself in a new environment and learn more about myself than I knew before I came to Charlotte. In this rediscovery, I have learned to balance school and leisure, I have learned to voice my opinion, and most importantly, I have learned that I can still be successful at the collegiate level. All the fears I once had have been put behind me and I can now say I know my own strength.

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