First Semester

Picture of my Draft

As my first semester at CVCC comes to an end, I can say it was more than what I had initially expected. Throughout the semester, I had the opportunity to meet individuals that shared similar aspirations. Ultimately, we all want to continue our education and pursue our dream careers. Reflecting on my academic journey thus far, I will say English 111 was the most difficult and the most rewarding class I have taken. English 111 employed numerous tactics to help develop our writing skills and expose us to different ways on how to become better writers. In my opinion, the requirement to compose letters, keep a journal of summaries of our writings, turn off disruptive technology when writing, and playing Scrabble played a large role in strengthening my writing skills.  

Throughout the semester, we were required to compose letters. As an on-going assignment we were required to compose one letter each month of the semester. But because of unforeseen circumstances, we did not get to complete the remaining letters. I thoroughly enjoyed these assignments because we were able to address our letters to whomever we wanted. Composing each letter every month taught me two things. First, the assignment taught me about punctuality. Since our letters were to be completed and ready to be mailed at exactly eight in the morning, I had to make sure my letters were finished and ready to be mailed out. Additionally, I had to make sure I was on time to class because the letter would not be accepted if I was tardy. The second thing this assignment taught me was the emotional impact writing a simple letter has on the receiving party. The people I sent my letters to were excited and expressed their gratitude for the letters. In today’s society, everyone mainly communicates through email, text or through phone calls due to them being a faster and more efficient form of communication. However, in my opinion, composing a letter, mailing it out and receiving one in return is more special than any other written form of communication.  

Personally, turning away disruptive technology while composing our writing was the most beneficial tactic to me. I found this beneficial because I believe the vast majority of individuals are highly dependent on their phone or other electronic devices.  In “Skim Reading is the New Normal,” Maryanne Wolf states “Look around on your next plane trip. The iPad is the new pacifier for babies and toddlers. Younger school-aged children read stories on smartphones; older boys don’t read at all, but hunch over video games. Parents and other passengers read on Kindles or skim a flotilla of email and news feeds.” As a society in general, we are so used to having our devices near us and refuse to admit that they can be a major distraction. I am guilty of being highly distracted by my cell phone.  As a result of turning away from my phone, I was able to focus solely on my writing and thus produced higher quality pieces of writing.

Lastly, the most interesting tactic I found beneficial was playing Scrabble on Fridays. Although Scrabble was a foreign game to me, I found it amusing and entertaining. In the beginning, I did not see why we spent time playing this board game. As each week went by,  I slowly began to realize the reasoning in assigning us to play Scrabble and its importance. Not only was Scrabble fun and competitive to play, but it also allowed us to think outside the box and learn new words that I never knew existed. I can say with certainty that playing Scrabble helped develop my vocabulary in every session. In short, Playing Scrabble exposed me to new words that I used throughout my writings this semester and has led me to download the application on my phone in hopes of further expanding my vocabulary. 

Because of English 111, it is clear my writing skills improved drastically. Although simple, the various tactics employed in this class helped me become confident about my writing. I have always struggled with English classes and have never been confident about the work I have produced. Thanks to English 111,  I am comfortable with writing small or even longhand writings and believe that I can produce writings that I can be proud of. Although this semester ended up as an online class, I continued to apply the tactics Dr. Lucas re-enforced throughout the semester. In conclusion, I will continue to use these tactics throughout my academic journey because I know they will continue to strengthen my writing skills and will help me become more comfortable with my writing.


Educated by Tara Westover is a powerful and well-written memoir that details the author’s lamentable childhood. Throughout the memoir, Tara vividly describes various childhood memories that motivated her to pursue a higher education and escape the isolated life she lived with her family. As the memoir progresses, readers are shown how Tara’s parents fostered an unhealthy environment for Tara and her siblings. As a result of the family’s religious ideology, Tara lacked the appropriate knowledge to treat injuries, such as the incident with Luke’s leg. The numerous injuries Tara and her family sustained and witnessed paint a clear picture of how basic medical knowledge is essential in circumstances where life altering accidents occur.

In the chapter “The Lord Will Provide,” Tara reflects on the traumatic event of her brother, Luke. When Luke and Gene go up the mountain to work, an accident occurs causing Luke’s leg to catch on fire. Tara, unaware of what’s occurring, hears Luke’s screams and swiftly runs outside. Tara then finds Luke hobbling across the grass and hollering for his mother. As Tara tries to figure out what is going on, she discovers Luke’s jeans, on his left leg, were melted. Furthermore, Luke’s thigh skin was “like wax dripping from a cheap candle.”(Westover, 69) 

Tara’s previous injuries she and her family have sustained have been cured by her mother. On this occasion, she is alone and forced to respond to a situation beyond her control. Tara, like any other ten-year-old, does not know what to do in a situation like this. Unlike any other ten-year-old, Tara has not been taught to call for help or call emergency services. Ten-year-old Tara is forced to step in and help with Luke’s injury alone. She almost makes Luke’s leg worse by burying his leg in a filthy trash can, but remembers at the last minute that the real worry with a burn was not the damaged tissue, but the infection.

    When Faye arrives later that night, she tends to Luke’s wounds. As she does so, she admits that she has never seen a burn as bad as Luke’s. Later that night Luke catches a fever which leads to Faye and Tara feeding Luke herbs that do nothing to remedy Luke’s pain. Even with the severity of Luke’s burns, Faye refuses to help Luke with his pain and disregards the idea of seeking professional help due to her believing in her own remedies and treatments.

As the weeks go by Luke is forced to stay in bed. Gene orders the Westovers’ to tell everyone at church that Luke is not feeling well. He threatens them that if anyone finds out about Luke the government will have Luke taken away, be hospitalized, and get infected and die. Additionally, Gene repeatedly endangers his family by preventing them to seek help and constantly lying to them that if anyone were to find out the truth, there would be a high chance they would be separated.

The misfortunate events that occur in the Westovers’ lives traumatize the members of the family. Throughout the memoir, the family  is depicted as being isolated and lacking basic knowledge. The main antagonist throughout the memoir was Tara’s father. Gene constantly manipulated the family and was the sole reason for the family’s underlying fear. Ultimately, if Gene did not impose his strict ideologies the family would have not endured the numerous accidents and unnecessary fear.

Work Cited

Westover, Tara. Educated: a Memoir. Random House, 2018

Georgia Aquarium

My name is Diana Sanchez. I am twenty-two years old and love to travel. I have always liked to travel and explore. I have been to various places but the most memorable by far has been my trip to The Georgia Aquarium. To me, the aquarium was an escape to a whole new world. The aquarium consists of several exhibits, every single one is different and unique. Every single exhibit helps create a sense of realism that you can not experience out in the ocean. The aquarium requires you to physically be there to visually capture the moments and to also interact with certain animals. 

Personally animals have always had a special place in my heart and going to the aquarium broaden me to all these amazing, unique animals. Walking into this particular room was fascinating to me. This specific room had this an enormous tunnel tank, to be exact it was one hundred foot long. It puts you in the center of the room, the experience feels so unreal that you forget you are in the aquarium. The tank makes you feel like nothing compared to the sizes of the big whale sharks, stingrays, and all other fishes they have within it. The room allows you to feel like you are in the ocean itself, underwater.

They also have this other room that looks almost like a big movie screen, when in reality it consists of a big glass window like wall. The sight is mesmerizing, being able to watch the creatures glide by and be able to see their underside, top and side views depending on their positions Visitors are allowed to sit on the carpet and gaze up at the marine life go by. The aquarium is not only captivating, but it is overall a great experience for a variety of people to enjoy.

The picture above shows my close encounter with a Jelly Fish. Just being able to be up close and personal was a fascinating study.
This picture shows two enormous Beluga Whales swimming in their spacious tank.
In the Tropical Diver section we got to observe these bright and colorful small fishes.
The one hundred inch long tank is truly a wonderful experience. We were able to stand and gaze in wonder at the sights above and around us.

Un Caso Grave de Rayas

I can not think of a time where I was not fond of reading. Growing up as a kid I would read a lot. If you were to ask my mother she would concur and tell you how I always had a book nearby. I recall how late at night when I was supposed to be tucked in bed sleeping, I would pull out my book from under my bed along with my flashlight and read my night away.  

One night my mother caught me in the act. She told me that she did not mind me reading, but she was displeased with me reading in the dark that late at night. My mother must have realized I was not going to listen to her, so she decided to check under my bed every night. At one point my mother noticed my passion for reading. She started by taking my brother and me to the public libraries nearby and occasionally to bookstores. She would take us at first every two to three weeks, and slowly with time she would take us once a week.

    As soon as my brother and I would walk into the doors we would part ways. My brother would always go off to find books that had anything to do with science, animals, or his favorite comic books. I, on the other hand, would go straight to the fiction section. I remember we would always end up walking out with three or more books, and as soon as we would finish them, my mother would take us back to get more. 

One evening my mom had a gift for me on the table. It was a thin box wrapped in pink gift wrap paper. She implied how while I had been at school she had it at the bookstore and it reminded her of me. I unwrapped my gift and inside was a book. My mother had bought me books before but on this occasion, my mother bought me my first Spanish book. 

Although I was a fluent speaker in Spanish and thanks to my mom’s long sitdown sessions I had learned to write and read Spanish. I was not necessarily an expert yet but was eager to learn and put words together as I read Spanish. The day she bought me the book that was wrapped was the first time my mother sat down and helped me read a longer Spanish book than that I was used to reading. The book was called Un Caso Grave De Rayas, by David Shannon. I remember I instantly fell in love with it. I would read it so often that my mother ended up replacing it with another copy because of how to deteriorate it wind up. 

A Camila Flan le encantaban las habas, pero nunca las comía porque todos sus amigos les detestaban y ella no quería ser diferente. A Camila le importaba mucho lo que la gente pudiera pensar de ella. 

The main character in Un Caso Grave De Rayas is Camila Flan. Camila loves lima beans, but never wanted to eat them. All her friends despised lima beans and she wanted to fit in. She was always concerned about what other people thought of her. Camila experiences what it is like to get an “ A Bad Case of the Stripes.” Camila’s illness is the result of not being herself. In Camila’s case, it is not following her desire to eat lima beans. After she turns all types of shapes and colors and older lady helps her by giving her lima beans and teaching her it does not matter what people think and Camila’s stripes disappear. 

I like to think that everyone has their version of a lima bean. In my case, my lima bean happens to be my love for reading. I have been blessed to grow up bilingual, even today Spanish plays an important role in my everyday life. Thanks to my mom’s patience and knowledge I was able to become an expert in Spanish. I have been fortunate enough to broaden my range of reading. I am able to enjoy both English and Spanish books.

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