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1Alexander Hayner

TE 250
Cultural Autobiography

It is evident that self-perception plays a great role in how one lives life. Everything from

expectations, achievements, and relationships are all dictated by the way in which one sees

themself. One such component of self-perception is cultural identity, which strongly embraces

the actions and cultures of ancestors in order to shape a personal outlook on existence.

In my case, the main components of my cultural identity revolve around the “white

middle-class” mentality, due mainly to the social status of my parents and ancestors. For as far

back as I can remember, all of my relatives have been from relatively economically stable

backgrounds, with such stability coming due wholly to a developed and lasting work ethic. My

father has always sang the praises of working hard to attain goals, while giving credit for this life

approach to his father. My grandpa, in turn, generously praises his father for instilling such

values upon him as a child. Thus, it is evident that my ancestors have all felt that the essential

approach to each day revolves around the mentality to work hard no matter what the

circumstances may be. Though I am not sure of this is an orthodox characteristic of a “cultural

identity”, I find myself always describing my family, as well as myself, as mentally focused and

hard working.

The cultural mentality of goal-orientated work rate definitely has always proved

beneficial to me in the academic arena. My views on the approach to the classroom, much like

my father’s and grandfather’s, is to pay attention in class and always complete all of the assigned

homework tasks. The reason for doing this, as I have been told many times over, is because

success comes to those who work hard. Upon examining this mentality, I realize that my family,

and in turn my close culture, has placed a great emphasis on the value of education. Such
emphasis on working hard in the classroom promotes proper study habits, ultimately leading to

higher forms of education. I developed proper study habits at an early age when my parents

would withhold television privileges until all of my homework assignments were completed.

Eventually, finishing my homework came as a second nature to me, with me feeling weird and

uneasy when I wouldn’t complete an academic task. Such familial study habits, spawning from

the worker’s mentality, gave me a stellar advantage upon tackling the academic expectations of

college while adapting to the freedom of living on my own at a major university.

Besides the positive cultural characteristic promoting hard work, I feel I struggle a bit

with being a male in a society so dominated by males. The problem that I have, in this case, is

that I find it hard to accept women as intellectual equals with men. By no means is this a huge

problem that strongly cripples my educational experience or relationships, but it continues to be

a small stereotype existing in the back of my mind when I encounter some females in an

academic setting. It is very easy to identify the root of such a personal characteristic in my case,

due to the fact that I attended an all male middle and high school (University of Detroit Jesuit

High School and Academy). In this academic setting, I would frequently interact with my fellow

students in various academic exercises, such as group projects, study groups, and classroom

discussions. Through these experiences, I took away a great respect for the intellectual side of

my fellow man...but not woman. Not only were all of my peers of the same gender, but the

majority of the faculty, including my three favorite teachers, shared the same male genes with me

as well. Such intellectual exposure to only one gender, especially during the influential years

that high school encompasses, somewhat limited me when I came to the extremely co-ed

atmosphere of Michigan State University. I can recall that in one class, during my first semester

at MSU, I had to do a group project with three females. At first I felt that I would have to do all
the work in order to ensure an exemplary grade, but upon getting to know these peers I

discovered a work ethic similar to my own. Such a personal experience made me truly question

what I had thought about the female mind during my high school years, and presently upon

entering my third semester in college I feel an intellectual equality among genders. Such outlook

blesses me with a wider view of my fellow man...and woman.

Going back to my central characteristic, which I identify as my work ethic, I feel that my

conceptions of schooling completely revolves around the mentality that those who work hard

succeed. It seems so obvious that this is the underlying theme to academic prosperity, seeing that

the only way to honestly master a subject is through taking the time to study and do homework.

Such rigorous efforts, dripping with invitations to work hard, ultimately lead to academic

success.

Another aspect of my identity, though not necessarily cultural, is my passion for sports; in

particularly, for soccer. Though love of a sport is much more of a personal choice than a cultural

tradition, all that is on my mind rite now while writing this paper (I know that this is poor writing

style now, but this is a personal paper) is how my love of soccer affected me today and may

possibly effect my outlook on life for a while. I’ve always been a passionate soccer fan, and I

have excelled at the sport as well...mainly due to my work ethic on and off the field. I was a

starter on the club soccer team last year, and all throughout this past summer I trained my ass of

in hopes of making the varsity soccer team this year. Yesterday, August 29th, was the day of the

walk-on tryouts. I thought about that day for so long, and I showed up ready to play. I had an

excellent tryout, and I was invited back with five other players (out of over thirty total guys

trying out) to come back today and train with the varsity team. The coach said that out of the six

he called back, two would make the varsity team. I saw this as having a one in three chance of
having my dream come true. All day today I thought about the practice, five thirty in the evening

at the varsity soccer field. I couldn’t think of anything other than fulfilling my dream. I showed

up at the practice early, ready to give it my all. During the practice I thought for sure I stood out

from the other walk-ons: I was handling the ball well, I was playing solid defense, and above all

I was out-working all of my opponents. At the end of the practice, I felt good about my chances

of making this team, and I thought about calling my dad and how he would sound on the phone

when I told him I had made the varsity soccer team at Michigan State University. But the coach,

Joe Baum, called the names of two walk-on players that made the team, and I was not one of

them. And I’m having trouble dealing with this reality...the reality that I failed. But my friends

have been there for me, and they’re helping me get by.

I feel that telling this very recent story of my hopes, failures, and struggles, provides an

insight as to what kind of person I am. I am passionate about soccer, but I am also passionate

about education. Both of these characteristics I get from my parents. An anecdote about a recent

athletic failure may seem on the surface to not reflect anything too deep about a person, but I feel

that my willingness to share my disappointment reflects my openness to others in regards to my

personal struggles and how I deal with them.

I realize that the last few paragraphs have been written on an emotional whim, but that is

the type of person I am...at least right now. If there are any questions regarding my personal

educational and cultural characteristics that haven’t been touched on in this autobiography, I am

willing to discuss them in person.

Thank You.