Meghan Osler Final Reflective Letter Dear Malcolm, When I look back at all that I have done this

semester I really feel a strong sense of accomplishment. When I revisit my work and feel like I really created something that I can be proud of. With every completed assignment I felt a little more confident about my abilities as a writer and a thinker. I find myself so curious about so many things and this class only enhanced my natural curiosity. The daybook writings helped align my jumbled thoughts on paper so I could produce something worthwhile when working on the formal assignments. When I would write in my daybook I’d often pause to doodle in the margins, which really helped my mind stay calm and focused. This is a habit I’ve had for a long time and I’m not sure when I adopted it. As a Biology major I focus most of my attention on stilted academic writing. This class was a welcome break from dry textbook material and stressful quizzes. Don’t get me wrong, I love my major, but it’s nice to just be creative and thoughtful. The daybook also served as a good way to vent my frustrations. I devoted several entries to questioning my major, my actions, and the people around me. The entry included in my EIP with the quote from Nikola Tesla is a perfect example of this. Writing that entry didn’t make my problems go away, but it did help bring my situation into perspective. To be honest, before I took this class I hadn’t done any formal academic research. In a Chemistry class I took last year I had to write a ten page formal lab report with at least three credible sources and I had no idea where to start. I searched through Google and picked out websites that seemed to have correct information even though I knew nothing about the authors

or their authority on the topic. I had no idea how to search the library for relevant articles or books. The research skills I have obtained in this class will be essential to the rest of my college and professional life. From the beginning I loved the idea of writing an essay about any topic that interested me. I often indulge in random curiosities through things like Wikipedia and Google, but I’ve rarely conducted any actual research. The interest inventory assignment was probably my favorite. I just thought of question after question, it seemed like I would never run out! But when I finished it I realized that I had no idea how actually pick one topic! All the ideas seemed like good ones, though I knew I’d have the most interest in something related to medicine or science. I know that kind of goes what I said before about wanting to get away from science type writing, but a lot of my interests rest in scientific studies and I knew I would be the most interested in that type of topic. In my interest inventory I had two questions that related to stem cells and that is what I ended up picking. When I was a freshman in high school my Biology teacher made us write a short essay about stem cells. I had never heard of them before and I was truly astounded by what I found. Later that year I watched a special on Discovery about the future of medicine. The show highlighted 3D printers like then ones designed by Anthony Atala and how they could change the lives of people on organ donor lists. It was simply the most amazing thing I had ever seen. I had never even imagined something like that before I saw that program and I really wanted to know more about it. At the time, I didn’t have internet at my house so my research options were pretty limited. After watching the Ted Talk about Atala I decided that my essay would most likely be about regenerative medicine and how it can extend the human life span. Since I finally had a general idea about what my topic would be about, I was fairly

confident going into my topic proposal. The topic proposal took more time to write than I expected it to. I had to look up a lot of information about my topic and it took a good amount of time to understand it. I wrote it the weekend before it was due and I kind of wished I had started it sooner. Procrastination is definitely something I struggle with and unfortunately that hasn’t changed too much this semester. After I finished it I realized that my topic could definitely be narrowed down. Eventually I choose cancer stem cells because I knew less about them than regenerative medicine. All too soon it was time to work on my annotated bibliography. Balancing all of the writing assignments with studying and work for other classes was difficult. I often felt overwhelmed and at times I would just give up and not accomplish anything at all. Eventually I got to work on it and once I got going things became a lot easier. I’ll admit that I found most of my sources as I wrote the bibliography but I don’t think that matters too much as long as the sources are credible and related to my topic. There were times where I wished that I would have stuck with regenerative medicine but at that point it would have been too late to change my mind. I never had much trouble with the citations despite not having much experience with them. The links on Moodle made the citations easy and citations on library articles were usually correct. By the time I started writing my EIP I was pretty burnt out on my topic. It wasn’t that I was no longer interested in my topic; I just didn’t feel like writing an eight page paper. I get burnt out pretty easily with anything I do, which is an issue that I need to learn how to fix. I had developed my argument before I wrote my essay, though at the time I thought it could be an exploratory essay too. It took me almost an hour to start my essay and even after that progress came in slow chunks. I can’t say there were many bursts of inspiration during this process. The

most difficult part of writing the essay was trying to get my argument on paper in a way that made sense and was supported by evidence. Toward the end of my first draft I seem to repeat myself a little bit and there were a few sentences that just didn’t fit with their paragraphs. I think that was because my jumbled thoughts as well as bad proofreading. I was so relieved when the essay was done. I never wanted to look at it again! The peer review was probably my favorite part of finalizing my essay. I really enjoyed seeing what some of my classmates were working on and some of their essays made me look at things in ways that I never had before. I’m always nervous about showing my work to other people but the in class peer review session wasn’t stressful at all! Discussing my essay with my group was a lot of fun and allowed me to talk more about something I’m really interested in! All of my group members gave excellent feedback and I implemented all of their suggestions in my final essay. I can only hope that my feedback helped them get better grades on their EIPs! Putting together my E-Portfolio and finishing my essay was an enjoyable task, though it consumed a lot of my time. Seeing the evolution of my topic from a basic idea to well thought out argument is fascinating. It’s honestly hard to believe that I could write something like that! I know I’m a pretty good writer but my essay seems to go beyond what I expected of myself. I picked teal as the main color for my website because it relaxes me when I look at it. I made my background pretty simple, mainly because I don’t know how to work flash too well. At the bottom of this page is my chalk for thought statement, “Don’t cure cancer”. I loved that assignment because I like inspiring controversy and discussion among my peers. I was amazed by how quick people were to “fix” my statement! I wish this portfolio wasn’t due the same week as my chemistry final, but I guess that’s just how life is sometimes. This class was interesting, frustrating, inspiring, and very enjoyable. I know that I would

not be the writer I am now if I had not taken this class. I would like to thank you for your dedication and passion to teach. The best professors are always the ones who love their jobs and I want to thank you for being one of those professors. I want to thank you for all of your encouraging feedback and quick response to all of my emails. I’ll use what I learned in this class for the rest of my life and that’s one of the best things you can get out of a class. Again, thank you, and have a great 2013! Sincerely, - Meghan Osler