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Writing has been my primary interest since I was six years old. Living at that time in Colorado, I attended an elementary school which sponsored annual writing examinations; those who scored well enough on the exams were invited to attend a yearly young writers' conference. During the spring of my first grade year, I wrote a poem about the night sky, which was performed by a local jazz band, and was invited to the conference.
Since that time, I've broadened my range of topics and honed my skills considerably. Though the process of writing is often frustrating, it has remained my favorite activity throughout childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood. Entering Knox as a freshman in the fall of 2002, I'd already decided to major in creative writing.
Writing is not my only passion, however. As I child, I was also intrigued by the study of psychology. Looking back, it becomes clear that my interest in this field was fostered by my mother, herself a school psychologist. Testing me and my sister with the WISC-R and encouraging us to read pop-psychology magazines, my mother helped me diversify my interests. As a sophomore, I declared a creative writing and psychology double major.
When asked to reflect upon my educational goals, I realize that throughout my life my aspirations have remained fairly constant: I have always worked to the full extent of my potential and have always sought to apply my education to the "real" world. Upon entering Knox, I bore these goals in mind. My decision to attend Knox was also influenced by these beliefs. In researching colleges, I sought institutions with excellent academic reputations, strong extra-curricular programs, and an academic community of which I could be a part; these factors, I believed, would help me reach my ultimate goals of beginning a successful career either in journalism, psychology, or a combination of the two, and contributing to the community of which I was a part. As a first-year student I had hoped that I would learn not only from my professors but from my peers, and, to my satisfaction, this has been the case.
Knox has helped me begin to realize my academic dreams. Each day, I am intellectually challenged and shown how to apply my knowledge to everyday life. Some courses I've taken, such as journalism, require students to focus their studies on the community outside of Knox—an experience beneficial in that it demonstrates that academics do not exist in a vacuum. As I continue my career at Knox, I am certain that the institution will help me meet all of my goals and allow me to become an involved, knowledgeable citizen.
I hold the belief that all endeavors should be undertaken with equal tenacity, and in charting my academic course I have not strayed from this ethic. In this, my educational plan, I detail how I plan to fulfill not only the specializations (major requirements) and foundations (second major/minor requirements) outlined by Knox, but also how I will incorporate key competencies and experiential learning into my academic career at the college.
II. Specializations and Foundations: Major Requirements
As a sophomore, I am well on my way to fulfilling the requirements for my majors. During my first year at Knox, I had already begun taking courses toward the fulfillment of my majors. Working toward my creative writing major, I have completed English 206, 207, and 208; Journalism 270; Photography, which fulfills the fine art requirement; and an independent study of feminist film theory, which fulfills the elective requirement for creative writing majors.
In taking courses required for my creative writing major, I discovered my interest in feminism. The discovery of this interest was sparked by my completion of an independent study about early feminist film analysis and the advances that have been made in the field during the last few decades. At present, I plan to study women's issues while in Berlin to gain a cross-cultural perspective of the topics I have studied here.
Under the new educational plan, all Knox students are required to choose either a second major or minor in addition to their primary major. My choice to major in psychology as well as creative writing will eventually fulfill the foundations requirement. Toward earning my psychology major, I have already taken several psychology classes, including Psychology 100 and Psychology 201.
This term, my course schedule includes Fiction Workshop (English 307), Research Methods and Statistics I (Psychology 281), and Psychology of Gender (Psychology 275); all three courses fulfill major requirements.
III. Key Competencies
Included in Knox's new educational plan are key competencies, standards which require all students to demonstrate their mastery of skills required for success as adults. The competencies are divided into six categories, including writing, oral presentation, quantitative literacy, information literacy and informed use of technology, foreign language, and understanding diversity. At this time, I have fulfilled several of the competencies and am making good progress toward fulfilling the remaining standards.
Toward the fulfillment of the writing requirement, I've already completed and achieved a satisfactory grade in First-Year preceptorial. To meet the other two writing competency requirements—that is, earning a grade of C or better in two additional writing-intensive courses, one of which is required for my major—I plan to take Psychology 360 and 361 (Research Experience in Psychology) and either Fiction or Poetry workshop; all of these courses, in addition to fulfilling competency requirements, also meet requirements for my major.
To meet the next competency requirement, oral presentation, I plan to take Psychology 283 (Being a Researcher). The course not only teaches students to "think and communicate as scientists do," but mandates that students "effectively communicate…information both orally and in writing."
I have already met half of the requirements necessary to meet the quantitative literacy standard; that is, I have earned a high enough score on both the ACT and SAT math tests to demonstrate proficiency in elementary mathematics. To fulfill the second requirement outlined by the competency, I will earn a satisfactory grade in Psychology 281 and 282 (Research Methods and Statistics I and II). I am currently enrolled in these courses, and expect my quantitative literacy standard to be completed by the end of this academic year.
At this point, I have already met the foreign language standard by earning a satisfactory grade in German 320 (Advanced Conversation and Composition). Although I am not majoring in German, I plan to take additional German courses to maintain both my speaking and writing skills.
The informed use of technology and understanding diversity requirements are the only two for which I have yet to begin work. Though I have not yet enrolled in courses that meet the technology requirement, I will likely take a technology-related course during my time at Knox, or I will meet the requirement through experiential learning. Similarly, my understanding of diversity has increased significantly since arriving at Knox. Currently, I am enrolled in Psychology 275 (Psychology of Gender); already, the course has helped me understand existing gender biases in our society and the ways that we as individuals must combat inequity in our daily lives. Additionally, I plan to take Psychology 215 (Black Psychology) and Psychology 271 (Human Sexuality) to increase my knowledge of diversity.
IV. Experiential Learning
Thus far, I have benefited enormously from the courses I've taken at Knox, but my most profound learning experiences have been outside the classroom. As a freshman, I began working for The Knox Student, Catch, and BLADU as a staff writer and copy editor. At present, I am a Mosaic Editor for TKS, the Publicity Editor for Catch, and a member of BLADU's editorial staff. Last term, while enrolled in Marilyn Webb's journalism course, I began writing features for the Galesburg Register-Mail and plan to continue writing for the paper. In addition, for my formal experiential learning project, I worked as an intern for the World Digital Video Association during winter break (2003). This internship not only helped me hone my writing skills but allowed me to explore a subject area about which I formerly knew very little. Taken together, these experiences have not only tested my dedication but have afforded me valuable journalistic experience which helps me manage my current coursework and will undoubtedly help me once I leave Knox.
Beyond that, my involvement in extra-curricular activities has helped me connect with two communities: the Knox student body and the city of Galesburg. My involvement with the latter did not (unfortunately) begin until this year, when I started researching issues of local interest for Professor Webb's journalism course. Soon after I began the course I realized how negligent I had been in remaining uniformed of Galesburg news; to remedy this, I began working for the Register-Mail. Taking suggestions from Tom Martin, the paper's editor, I wrote a series of features last term intended to connect the Knox community with Galesburg citizens. According to Mr. Martin, the features have been popular in the town and I have been asked to continue my work for the newspaper. This experience is just one example of how Knox has helped me recognize the interconnection of education and community and helped me give back to those around me.