10 March 2015
I have always had an interesting relationship with writing, as it is one of my greatest strengths while being one of my biggest struggles. I have been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, which has caused difficulty for me in understanding and using language. In my first year of high school, I was able to evolve as a writer, and throughout high school, I was praised for my writing. I also found writing to be extremely helpful to me in expressing my thoughts, as I have a difficult time expressing my thoughts through the spoken word. However, I didn’t see any personal growth as a writer after my first year of high school, and my ability to write an effective essay was lost by the end of my senior year, which was made evident when I did not pass the University of California’s Analytical Writing Placement Examination. My first year of college gave me a lot of experience and practice, as some of my classes helped me bring my writing skill back up to where it once was, but depression also started looming over me, affecting my enthusiasm for and contentment with college and life. This quarter, I have been working on a personal goal of reaching out for help to overcome my depression and find enthusiasm for my studies. UWP 1 has helped me in this by giving me interesting topics to think about, and giving me a creative outlet to balance with my science classes.
My first essay is an analytical piece looking at the music video for the song “Settle Down” by Kimbra. The subject of the video is related to my interest in feminism, which proved helpful in letting me feel connected to my work. I initially struggled trying to come up with what I wanted to say about this music video, what my “edge” was going to be. I had already written my essay before I finally figured out a strong thesis, which became difficult to incorporate into my already written essay. My updated thesis is on the eradication of gender roles, because it is a topic I feel strongly about, and I think it relates to this video because little girls being told they should get married is part of gender roles. I also became sick with the flu from cumulative stress during the week that this essay was due, which affected my ability to enhance it during that time period, but that situation gave me something to work with for this portfolio.
I again struggled to think of a topic for my research paper, which I decided upon at the very last minute. I decided to write about autism charities after reflecting about how the biggest autism charity, Autism Speaks, is very controversial and portrays autism in a very negative way. As a person with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) diagnosis, and as someone with background in disability advocacy, it is important to me that society does not pity people with disabilities or autism, because disability is not inherently a bad thing. Where I could have easily written my paper solely about how Autism Speaks is awful, I decided to look at other organizations that research autism and advocate for autistic people. My research allowed me to understand the stances of different groups and how they view autism. I want to support groups that do not see my existence, or others’, as one that needs to be fixed or eliminated, and I want others to know which groups respect the diversity autism brings to the world and want to make life easier for autistic people and their families.
The topics I got to write about in UWP 1 this quarter are ones that I feel strongly about, which helped me remember what it’s like to have enthusiasm for something. It is still a process for me to connect with the classes for my major, but being given the chance to hone in on other skills and remember other interests reminds me of my joy in learning, which may lead me to remembering my love of science and connecting with my studies. My goal is to go into neuroscience research, and writing will be a significant part of that career. Being able to express my thoughts on varied topics is important to me, to allow me to be a well-rounded individual with varying interests. My Asperger’s gave me strength in something I generally struggle with, by giving me a unique voice through writing, which I hope is seen in my essays. While I hope my writing gives you new things to think about, I also hope you enjoy my essays.
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