Hardship and Growth


Hardship and Growth


As my first full year of college draws to a close, it’s hard to comprehend just how fast it went. Through adjustment to college life, development of study habits, and dealing with some health issues, I endured several hardships over the past academic year and particularly this semester. However, with hardship comes growth. The obstacles that were presented allowed me to learn and to improve upon myself and hopefully set me on a path to success.


Adjusting to college life was not the easiest. Living in Isenhour, a freshman dorm on campus, I encountered poorly maintained quarters and Resident Hall staff that were poorly trained and were more overbearing then most parents. With campus maintenance delaying repairs to an exhaust vent that was causing the build-up of an unbelievable amount of mold and mildew in the shower and the building temperature fluctuating between ice cold and burning hot, it made for an uncomfortable living environment. Not to mention the RA’s beating down your door every time someone gets a hangnail within a one mile radius. Needless to say, adjusting to college life was a challenge.


An adjustment was not the only hardship I faced. Developing and honing college-level study habits was not only a challenge but necessary to succeed. I accredit a lot of the development of my study habits to English 131. With weekly reading and a well laid out syllabus, I was able to stay on track with my assignments and separate my reading into digestible increments. As my second semester draws to a close, I feel more confident with the study habits I have been able to develop.


I believe the hardships I faced were directly influenced by my health. Dealing with family matters and struggling with anxiety and depression on top of school and various other activities really began to break me down. Then after weeks of sickness, I was finally diagnosed with stomach ulcers. Once again adding another challenge in my life. Through all this, I remain motivated to succeed and prepared to make the most of college.


English 131 has really been a point of growth for me. I feel my writing has improved more than it ever did in high school and my reading and study skills have grown positively as a direct result of this class. When reading or organizing a writing piece, I find myself thinking more critically and in-depth about ideas that are presented to me. English has also helped by keeping me organized and on top of assignments.


Early in the semester, I was given the opportunity to revisit one of my favorite memoirs High Price. This memoir documents the life and research of neuroscientist Dr. Carl Hart as he addresses myths and misconceptions behind the American war on drugs and drug use on the body. In revisiting this text, I was able to identify some more key concepts that I missed in my original reading. Writing my workshop essay on High Price also allowed me to share my thoughts and reactions with my classmates as well as develop my writing more than I could have alone.


Another key piece of literature that was instrumental in my writing growth process was Robert Beatty’s Serafina and the Black Cloak. In reading and writing about this novel, I was able to develop better study habits as well as better understand and identify archetypes within writing.


Works Cited


Hart, Carl L. High Price: A Neuroscientist’s Journey of Self-Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know about Drugs and Society. 2014.

Beatty, Robert. Serafina and the Black Cloak. 2016.

English 131: An Annotated Bibliography

Beatty, Robert. Serafina and the Black Cloak. 2016.

Robert Beatty’s Serafina and the Black Cloak is a relatively recent number one New York Times bestseller published by Disney Hyperion. The story follows a protagonist by the name Serafina. Serafina has lived in the basement of the famous Biltmore house in Asheville, North Carolina her whole life. Hidden away by her father due to her origin, it is up to Serafina to stop a fighting ghoul that is taking the souls of children at night.

Foundation, Poetry. “Snow Day by Billy Collins.” Poetry Foundation, 28 Apr. 2018, https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/46707/snow-day.

Snow Day by Billy Collins is a short poetic piece of literature outlining the narrator’s observations of their community during a morning after a snowstorm. Within the poem the narrator observes children playing. Three girlsin particular, the narrator notices, are planning a scheme and listens hard to investigate.

Hart, Carl L. High Price: A Neuroscientist’s Journey of Self-Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know about Drugs and Society. 2014.

High Price is a memoir about the reality and misconceptions behind drug use, and Dr. Carl Harts experiences beginning with his birth into a working-class underprivileged African American family and the choices that eventually lead him to become one of the top researchers in the field of narcotic use and its effects on individuals and society.

Richtel, Matt. “Blogs vs. Term Papers.” The New York Times, 20 Jan. 2012. NYTimes.com, https://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/22/education/edlife/muscling-in-on-the-term-paper-tradition.html.

Matt Richtel writes in his article Blogs vs.Term Papers about the differences between students writing in the form of blogs versus writing traditional term papers. Richtel goes in-depth into the pros and cons of each form of writing. Richtel also highlights the benefits of an integrated curriculum that includes both blog style submissions as well as traditional term papers.

Smith, Zadie. Swing Time. Penguin Press, 2016.

Zadie Smith’s Swing Time follows the life of an unnamed female protagonist. Her and her friend Tracy begin dance very young in an underprivileged neighborhood in the United Kingdom. In doing so each girl is set on very different life paths that seem to parallel for much of their lives.  The narrative outlines the raw realities of life and the moral struggle individuals face no matter the origin.

Twenge, Jean M. “Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?” The Atlantic, Sept. 2017. The Atlantic, https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/09/has-the-smartphone-destroyed-a-generation/534198/.

Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation? Is an article from The Atlantic written by Jean M. Twenge. In the article Twenge outlines the impact that smartphones have had on what he calls the “IGen”. He explains that smartphones have weakened formal face to face communication and is indirectly causing depression in many young adults.







The More They Change…

Zadie Smith’s New York Times bestseller Swing Time follows the life of an unnamed protagonist through her experiences with dance, drugs, sex, and so much more than life will throw at you. Growing up in an impoverished neighborhood in the United Kingdom the narrator and her friend Tracy begin dance lessons which as the narrative develops, the reader can observe how dance had set Tracy and the narrator on different paths in their lives. As the reader learns, their lives intercept and drift apart many times.

Character development plays a vital role in Swing Time especially as the reader can observe a large part of the characters’ lives. However, it is the static development of Tracy’s personality that continues to drive her influence over the narrator and throughout the novel.

Even from youth to young adult Tracy’s character is full of life and self-assurance. This energy and her drive for success and willingness to obtain that success no matter what it is or how she will achieve it creates several opportunities for Tracy as well as several problems indirectly (or directly) for the narrator.

Tracy’s “no apologies” attitude and childlike tendencies continue to create rifts between the narrator and herself. Tracy and the narrator’s on and off relationship allows the narrator and the reader to observe different points in Tracy’s life. However, Tracy’s immature personality remains as a point of continued issues for the narrator.

Smith’s strategy of presenting a nonlinear narrative that swings spatially and temporally allows readers to learn vital information or context when it is most important in the storyline. It also allows the narrator to take a moment from the current happenings of the narrative and reflect, giving the reader a window into what might be an entirely new plot point in the novel or an expansion on a previously mentioned point.

Smith also chooses to present the novel as a first-person account by an unnamed narrator. Leaving the narrator’s name out of the novel allows readers to insert themselves or someone else into the role of the narrator. This is very important in the context of Swing Time due to the many parallels that the fictional novel has in regards to the raw realities of life. Subjects such as: Sex, drugs, and abuse may be tough to talk about, However, Zadie Smith uses the ambiguity of the narrator’s name to empower readers to put themselves in her shoes and swallow the hard truths behind Smiths fictional narrative.

Swing Time has a huge cast of characters. It’s these characters and their development (or lack of) that drives the story forward and creates a fictional narrative that resonates with the realities of life, talked about or not. Zadie Smith’s Swing Time is truly thought provoking as it provides a window into a life that may not be the readers but one that the reader can personify in reading, even if not in full, due to the numerous “real life” topics discussed and the real faults of the characters.

Work Cited

Smith, Zadie. Swing Time. Penguin Press, 2016.



The Journey: The Road to College


I always knew I was college bound from day one. Well mostly because I was told I had to be. However, after finding a major I was passionate about, college took on a whole new meaning in my life. It became a journey. My journey. All journeys have a beginning, so I think that’s a good place to start. Sitting in a boiling hot classroom with broken desks and apathetic classmates, I fell in love with the study of criminal justice. I had always known I wanted to do something that involved law and justice. I was actually set up to be a pre-law major once I went to college. But after taking six dual enrolment courses in one semester (on top of high school classes) I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I wanted to become a police officer. I wanted to serve the community and leave a positive impact wherever I could. I began riding along with several law enforcement agencies and making some connections. Soon after I was offered a scholarship through the North Carolina Law Enforcement Association and I changed my major to Criminal Justice. I knew I needed an education if I wanted to advance in my career. And so, I began my journey on the road to college.