Major Project 5: Reflective Essay

Sabria Hall

English 1102-Weaver

Major Project 5 Reflection

May 3, 2021

This Isn’t the Hard Part

            A global pandemic screamed to educators and students to be more creative and resourceful in their learning. I lit torch on my academic self, found it enflamed with panic and desperation. Who was I but this vessel of years upon years of academic stagnation? Teachers that were uninspired. Teachers that were tired. Teachers that had braved archaic learning structures just so students could open a window to freedom. My academic self lay shriveling instead of ballooning. English 1102 challenged the preconceived notions I had of academic writing. I was a tiny island betrayed by the ominous colonizers, maybe the metaphor seems extreme, but I hadn’t known just how far away I could get.

If you can picture Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now, overweight and mumbling his lines a shell of his shiny glory as Hollywood’s affecting prince. I was Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now the brightness of the first assignment, learning another person’s academic self, meeting classmate Hannah via Zoom, immediately recognizing I had been starving to talk to anyone who was facing the identical challenge of learning within a global pandemic. It was remarkable in how our expression of conversation flowed but when I left the Zoom, I knew the solitary pursuit of a satisfying grade in the class would only be my very own journey.  The Tuesday and Thursday videos a glimpse of a professor who was effusive in giving learning a spin, a destiny beyond just a grade. The patchwriting assignment became the first marginal hiccup, dissecting the words of writer Sean Michael Morris and his article ,“Pivot to Online: A Student Guide. An article that surmised  pandemic teaching would require resilience and a bit of fortitude. The author focusing on those marginalized uniquely and willful to give insight into how to help. I hadn’t thoughtfully engaged with the text and my writing reflected as much.  I couldn’t rely on flowery prose I had to open my brain and give it sunlight. It was another bullet in the already weakening academic self.

            I am a bad writer. I’m not a bad writer. I was born a good writer. That’s the voice in my head. I swallowed that voice. I had to if I wanted to complete the SAR Project 3. This scary thing happened I realized if I wasn’t interested in an assignment. I pushed it off a cliff, let it cling helplessly to the stony edge. Since I was five and could make words form sentences, I’d scribbled tales of evil witches and pugnacious girls in a faded tablet. The teachers fawning over the child who writes the tales, “She was born a writer!” they so easily stated. I received an 80, and I didn’t bother looking at the rubric feedback. I was a bad writer. I was staring at a blank computer screen like thousands of other students. If I put my hand to the screen would someone else’s hand reach back.   

Burnout had come quicker this time, the lethargy had fangs. Writing in the first draft isn’t the best draft, that was a pill I needed to swallow. I thought I could use an old remedy of falling apart inside a book. I picked up the Vanishing Half by Britt Bennet. For a while it soothed the ache promised memories of staying awake past midnight to finish a novel. The research project loomed, and I kept flipping pages. I had become Travis Bickel immersed in the darker teasing of my psyche. I wouldn’t self-monologue in the mirror. I knew how to self-destruct, a perfectionist of chaos. I believed in arson; I could set my academic self on fire. Implode. Explode. Expose.

            I miss voices. I miss the curve of a smile. I miss the nervous quiet of an echoing lecture. I miss giggling. I miss flirting and provocative banter. I miss the whispers of a rumor. I miss the classroom. A makeshift desk upon my bed, the sticky kitchen table and the crowded noisy Panera I tried it all to get that old thing back, but it isn’t the same. Fall semester is still in its slumber but when it awakens, I will go back to campus vaccinated and maybe a just a bit stronger.



Sabria Hall

English 1102-Weaver

May 1st 2021

The Experience of  First Generation Working Class Black Women in College

Williams Qua’Aisa et al. “Exploring Black Girl Magic: Identity Development of Black First-Gen College Women.” Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, Oct.2020

Lewis J,Mendenhall,R Harwood,S & Bowne Huntt,M (2013) Coping with Gendered Racial Microaggression among Black Women College Students. Journal of African American Studies

Hannah Feinstein:Academic Profile

Hannah Feinstein possesses a quirkiness that is reminisce of the actresses from the show Broad City, rectangular glasses upon her face and an enviable short haircut that she casually flips back in mid conversation. You can immediately get the perception that Hannah is the kind of individual who sat by the weird girl in class or defended the quiet boy at lunch who painted his nail lavender. Hannah doesn’t seem to fit into any of the high school or college archetypes. She’s uniquely herself with an impressive sensitivity and a keen awareness of her privilege.

Hannah’s fledgling academic self was first discovered within the confines of her home. Her mother was a teacher and the guiding influence on her eventual career choice. Her mother had went back to school upon becoming pregnant with Hannah. She cheekily expressed, “I basically got a degree when being birthed.” A career in childcare wasn’t necessarily preordained it took a few walks in the dark to get to that consensus. She found herself at the University of Central Florida away from her family taking on the major of hospitality management. She quickly recognized that she didn’t like the structure and realized that most of what she was being taught could easily be learned through hands-on experience at a restaurant. She dropped out after one year, finding a job at Disney’s Orlando theme park. It’s the vision of tourists biting into gigantic turkey legs and children giddy after a ride on the teacups. It was a job, perfunctory and routine. Hannah didn’t envision ever going back to school, but a deadly fatal virus had other ideas.

March , April , May , June floated as the world became a zombie dystopia. It was a Shakespearean tragedy. Hannah regretted going out of state for school and saw it as a waste of money. She had dropped out of an English class that semester , fretting over a five page essay. Her academic self was shedding its skin at that point. She was creative, but only saw perfection in her writing. The first draft had to be the equivalent of  Shakespearean prose or she couldn’t fathom going further. Hannah preferred math. The answers were readily there and it was concrete. English asked more of her, begged her to determine more of the text and of herself. She spent the pandemic months with the idea that she would eventually be able to go back and work at Disney. The call never came. Without an air of anything special Hannah, thought to herself, “Where is the nearest place to get my degree.” 

The Alpharetta Georgia State campus became the newest space for Hannah’s academic self. She had admitted to being a procrastinator, a creative, but also even a little performative. She espoused, “The me I put on, versus the me I actually am.” For Hannah the focus academically isn’t primarily being the most intellectually inept but pursuing what is the most profound and actively kind. Passionately, she spoke of her conflict with the elitist spaces of college. This idea can be interpreted further with the article, Taking My Parents to College. In the article it explores the exact perception of elitism and how it can be isolating for marginalized individuals, creating an environment of feeling like an imposter, an alien in the room. It’s obvious that Hannah’s empathy translates to an academic self that is reflective and evolving. 

            For Hannah the academic setting has changed, and what she longs for is communication. The interaction with her classmates is what she misses. She finds comfort in the hijinks of the characters on Parks and Recreation. She admits that she prefers the quiet sound of nothing when she studies. The literature of Harry Potter books seemed to be the only books she could stomach. Her lack of  reading was an adolescent rebellion, she sought ways to be completely different from her sister, that meant no pages of Judy Blume to be discovered. It seems that with any person the academic self is a multitude of experiences. The first time you raised your hand in class. The first subject that challenged you. The book that gave language to your oppression. Hannah’s academic self-began with her mother, the teacher.  Hannah will soon become a fourth teacher one day eventually leading her pupils to the journey of their academic selves.